Monday, August 31, 2009

Bullying in Schools

I'll be up front and say that I was bullied in school. I had someone kick the back of my knee (to make me stumble and fall) as I was walking down a set of concrete stairs, but I have a very good sense of balance, so that didn't work. I had one girl tell me repeatedly that, "one of these days, I'm going to beat your head in." My response was to look her in the eye and say "Yeah, yeah." I wasn't a very good victim. Too independant to act intimidated by these girls. My friends, however, were terrified. This was over 20 years ago. I shudder to think how someone like Tracey would act in today's schools.
Maybe she would have had a hand in what happened last week. This morning, hubby was listening to ABC Radio this morning (Mornings with Madonna King - not sure if the piece will be podcast) who was discussing bullying, and gave the statistic that "today, 3 children in your classroom will be bullied. By the end of the week, 1 child in 5 will be bullied." Just what you want for your school-going children. And what can be done? When you have a ratio (in class) of 25+ children to 1 adult, and in the playground of hundreds of children to a few scattered adults, what can realistically be done? Are we to expect children to exert positive pressure on their peers to behave themselves, and not bully others? That's not how it works. Peer pressure generally exerts towards the lowest point. You will not (without significant outside influence, eg a strong parental figure influencing the leader(s)) get a peer group promoting positive behaviour, but, rather, whatever they can get away with. Young people will test limits and boundaries, and the result may be horrendous, like last week. Oh, and at the end of the report was this quote: "Mullumbimby High School has about 920 students and 75 teachers, and an anti-bullying policy." (Emphasis is mine.)
So what are your options? Private schooling? I only ever went to private schools - Catholic girls-only schools from Year 5 onwards, Catholic mixed school for Years 1-4. A 'nice' State School? How do you figure that out? Depend on the official word? Not helpful when they play 'blame the victim' to avoid reporting bullying. (I have enough anecdotal evidence of this happening locally - where you live may be different.) Haunt the school to make sure everyone is behaving themselves? Teach your child to be the bully, not the victim (because that will make Grandma so proud!)
Homeschool. Keep your child in the nurturing, natural environment, where their education can be tailored to their personalities and learning styles, where someone, at least, will be able to repeatedly tell Junior to put pencil to paper now! (Sorry - ADD child would rather play WWIII with his pencil than do maths ;) If we sent him to school, he would be sent to the overloaded Special Education class where they barely have enough teachers and aides to keep things relatively sane, let alone have the time and energy to ensure he actually does work.) Keep your child at home, where you can make sure that your stressed child gets the attention they require for mental and/or physical health. Keep your child at home, so they can do their work at home, rather than schoolwork and homework.
Keep your child at home. That's it. May not always seem possible, but if you really want to, you'll make a way.


Jeanne said...

I was bullied too - at a top Private school. It played a significant part in our decision to home educate Jemimah.

Mind you, it sounds like I was more profoundly affected by my experiences than you were - good for you!!

Homeschoolmum4Christ said...

I was bullied, too, on the way home from school, and I received quite a severe beating - enough that my parents removed me from that school and enrolled me in another. My dad was a police officer, so I used to get ribbed about that constantly.

Our children were bullied - my son was bullied so much in year 3 that we removed him from school.

Our daughter only went to school for two weeks, and was also severely bullied in that time. One delightful??? child threw her off the slippery dip, but fortunately I had just walked in and caught her before she hit the ground.

Would I send our children back to school - no way!

Ruby said...

I had a very fortunate school experience and it makes me physically sick to think of children being bullied like this. I already get upset thinking of my grandchildren who will more than likely go to regular schools.

Just a sad (painful) note though. I have actually witnessed bullying albeit verbal among some home schoolers, too. Putting other people down, either physically or emotionally, is the way cowards behave in any environment.

Jeanne said...

Where are you!!!!!