Thursday, February 19, 2009

Different Taxes - Part 2

This is the follow-up about why “it doesn’t work” when kids report harassment.

After doing some research, that is I actually asked the questions that the reporter so miserably failed to ask, I have it on good authority that sometimes the resources actually do nothing vis-à-vis the bully. It seems that my guess from my previous blog as spot on.

In these times of de-responsibility, social lethargy or whatnot, hardly anyone but for a select few, will go to the trouble of actually fixing the aggressor. The reasons for this are many, not the least of which is that the fixer puts him or herself in the line of fire.

Now what does this line of fire look like? Perversion of responsibility!

Check it out: If one doesn’t acknowledge that there is an issue, then one doesn’t need to track it, if there is no paperwork, then no one gets saddled with not doing anything to prevent or stop the abuse. Or worse, doing something wrong. A record will be held against you!

Perversion to be sure, but the alternative sticks like shit. You can’t dodge the accusation “you knew but didn’t do anything!” Sacrilege indeed. How many times have we heard that particular cry in the media in the past, say, week? However, you can totally get away with not knowing, especially if there’s no record of any incident. At which point one can get accused of incompetence, rather minor in comparison whereby the alternative is criminal negligence.

I don’t want to paint all of the world with such a dark brush, but we all know the dictum: “cover your ass.”If anyone tells me that school board members and teachers don’t do it? I call him a bald-face liar.

Another force at work is sheer ignorance. While programs and coaching may be in place, it is with experience that one recognizes abuse. A punch is, relatively speaking, easy to see. Name calling is also something readily identifiable. But intimidation goes much further than this, and it’s the lack of awareness that makes it difficult to recognize.

Remember those workplace harassment classes and video presentations given by H.R.?

Do you remember each one of the examples and what it was about?

I didn’t think so.

I touched a word on it before with regards to school jurisdiction, but there’s also an inherent problem within the school workings itself. Teachers and principals often have their hands tied solidly behind their backs with attributing consequences for a child’s behaviour. They are extremely limited in their response. The public outcry over the past few decades has ensured that teaching professionals have no powers of punishment. Right, wrong or indifferent, the only thing a school can do is suspend a child for bad behaviour, and nothing else.

Worse still, I am told that nothing exists to provide support to the school, nor the victim for that matter, when the bully returns from suspension. Furthermore the learning-time lost during the suspension will make the badly behaving kid all that much more of a liability.

All this assumes of course compliance on the part of the troublesome child’s parent(s). They have to subscribe to the school’s disciplinary measures, otherwise it is all for naught. It comes down to accepting parental responsibility: if a parent isn’t being a parent, the child will have no reason to change his behaviour.

A case could be made that the parent may or may not believe the evidence levelled against his or her child. Indeed, false accusation is one of my own greatest irritants and a real possibility. So while the parent does need to keep a critical eye out for such things, it also behoves them to realize that their cherished little angel may still have massive behavioural and social issues. So sorry, bloodline blindness is no longer acceptable.

Finally, we get to social stigma, which encompasses the reluctance to suspend or otherwise deal with a badly behaving child in the first place in order not to victimize him or her!

A real case: a victim we’ll call Vic is being bullied in class by Bull. (Yeah, I know, not too imaginative but we'll more easily keep track of who's who!)

Vic’s parents have asked the school to move Bull into another class. But the school refuses, well aware that such a move has the potential to impart stigma upon Bull. The other kids will ask why Bull was moved! And, obviously, Bull’s parents don’t want this either, and so they refuse their child be moved.

Vic parents don’t want Vic to be moved since he has friends in the class and likes his teacher.

To this day Bull is still picking on Vic.

For the Victims: not all is lost since I also acquired some tricks of the trade in my research.

The victim should be talking to someone. He or she should very much get it out in the open, preferably to an adult in power, but also if only to friends. This allows unloading some of the frustration, and it may be enough by itself, assuming the intimidation doesn’t carry on for months on end.

The second requires gumption, some coaching and a fair amount of faith. Bullies are often cowards, and when one stands up to them, they may back down. Being assertive and walking away is potentially a good tactic on the part of the victim, and disarms the bully.


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