how to grow a bully
So, what happened to prompt me to post in the middle of a work-related nervous breakdown is this: I have finally seen what the liberalization of education has done to our school systems.
DJ has been having a problem with a bully. It's the same bully as last year, the same one who took his money, the same one who wouldn't let him play soccer on the playground. This year he has taken to physically threatening DJ.
After chatting the with the mother of DJ's best friend, I realized that my son's rants about this bully were not borne of exaggeration. Apparently DJ's friend is also tormented by Big Bully, to the extent that he cries every morning that he doesn't want to go to school.
I spoke to the teacher about it. The class is unruly, she says. It's the worst class she has ever had. She has no control. DJ and his friend, however, are model students who never do anything wrong.
Well, of course not. They are terrified of even moving around in their seats.
Today I called the principal. He gave me a touchy-feely response about how we must take into consideration the bully's feelings. After all, Mr. Principal said, Big Bully's mother died.
Yes, I say. I am aware that Big Bully's mother died four years ago. For how long will he continue to get a sympathetic pat on the back every time he acts up?
I mean, what is the statute of limitations on using your mother's death as an excuse for atrocious behavior?
Well, Mr. Principal says, we have tried peer mediation and peer review with Big Bully. I sent home a pamphlet that will help his father and step-mother go over the proper way to express anger.
See, that's the thing, I say. He has no reason to be angry at my son or my son's friend. If he wants to express anger, I suggest that the classroom is not the appropriate place to do it.
Oh, says Mr. Principal. When he expresses anger in the classroom, he gets sent up here to me.
And then what happens?
He has to sit on the bench for a few minutes while he thinks about his behavior.
And then he goes back to class.
And he behaves that way all over again.
Well, says Mr. Principal again, and I can almost see him rubbing his chin thoughtfully. Do you think there is something your son or his friend is doing to egg Big Bully on? Perhaps they have angered him in some way?
I chuckle. I ask if this is not a case of blaming the victims.
Uh, no. I was just wondering why the antagonism between them, he says.
Well, gee. Perhaps if Big Bully spent some time talking to you when he came up for his "punishment" instead of just sitting on a bench staring out the window, you may get him to talk about it. I said something to that effect.
Oh, no, Mr. Principal says. We don't want Big Bully to feel like we are against him. We have to be careful of the children's feelings. We have to be sure not to hurt anyone in the process of healing.
What about my son? What about his feelings and his hurt?
We could take drastic measure and remove your son from the class or arrange for some teaching time in the resource center, away from the other kids.
That seems like what you should be doing for Big Bully, not for his victims.
We need to understand Big Bully and his actions. Perhaps if your son was taken out of the equation we could see what is really going on with the bully, how he behaves when your son is out of the classroom.
At this point I'm ready to ask him if owns a "No blood for oil" t shirt.
He talks for a few more minutes about the mediation programs and the peer programs and the need to understand the Bully's motives. Mr. Principal assures me that they don't take this kind of thing lightly, despite what I may think.
I bring up the subject of Nick, the boy who was the bully while my daughter was at the school. Nick threw a chair at a teacher. Nick cursed the school nurse out. Nick was caught with a knife. Nick used to hide in the girl's bathroom.
Nick was never suspended, never punished. In fact, Nick had the lead role in the school play. They thought it would be good for him.
Mr. Principal says they dealt with Nick the best way the could.
Which was, I say, to not deal with him at all. And then to reward him for his behavior.
I tell Mr. Principal I have to go, it was nice chatting with him and that I would be calling the school district as soon as I hung up with him.
The school district, when made aware of the problems, asked me if I wanted to have DJ speak to the social worker in order to "work out his issues." When reminded that my son was not the one who needed to deal with his issues, the kind woman told me "we have to tread lightly with people like Big Bully. They need to be encouraged, not discouraged. Sending him to counseling will only hurt his self esteem and make him behave worse."
I hung up. Talk about discouraged.
Now, I deal with things my way. Big Bully's father owns the pizza place a few blocks from my house. I'll be taking a ride over there today to deal with this one on one, parent to parent. Though I know other mothers and fathers have gone this route before and returned home with heads bowed, defeated by the Father of Big Bully, also known as Big Bully, Sr., I will not be defeated.
If all else fails, I am just going to teach DJ how to throw a roundhouse punch and knock Big Bully flat on his ass. The hell with peace and appeasement. This is where it gets us. Nowhere.