27 May 2010

School Bullying: A Tragic Cost of Forced Schooling and Autocratic School Governance

Now, you might expect a headline like that on some of the homeschoolio blogs. Maybe on some of the ultra-liberal or ultra-conservative websites. But this one? Was on Psychology Today. And written by an "evolutionary psychologist," of all things. Excerpt:

"Bullying occurs regularly when people who have no political power and are ruled in top-down fashion by others are required by law or economic necessity to remain in that setting. It occurs regularly, for example, in prisons. Those who are bullied can't escape, and they have no legislative or judicial power to confront the bullies. They may report bullying to the prison guards and warden, but the guards and warden may not know whom to believe and may have greater vested interest in hiding bullying than in publicizing it and dealing with it openly."

The solution? Give the students power so they feel all, like, empowered. Like that's gonna happen. I'm thinking it would be an interesting school atmosphere if the nerds in Student Council had some real power.

They could TELL the cafeteria what it's serving (hint: Pizza. Every day. No veggies. All meals come with cookies.) and TELL the school that yes, everyone with a license can drive to school and no, you're not charging for parking and guess what? We can park off-campus, too, and there is nothing you can do to enforce that. Oh... and we can leave if we don't feel like attending class once we pass our freshman year. As long as we keep a C average and have a parent permission letter signed, it's open campus, baybee...

Why not?

Some sort of balance of power would be nice. But like I said... not gonna happen. In fact, I'm reading over at Spunky's that even babies are now considered trackable as students. It really bums me out, if for no other reason that homeschoolers can't snarkily quip that with lowering compulsory attendance ages, soon the government will want to snatch our kids when we leave the hospital. Bummer. That's not a funny joke anymore. Not. Funny. Any. More. At all.

But back to bullying. In all seriousness, the school can't stop all forms of bullying. It probably wouldn't be a healthy thing if they could if by "bullying," you're including "I think you are a dork and/or your idea is stupid" sorts of discussions with other students. But direct threats and violence are things that need to stop.

Look at this video from the Bully Project. I suppose I should be furious at the school for allowing this to continue, but WHAT ABOUT THE PARENTS? What on earth are they thinking, sending their kid back to that? Wouldn't you rather hide him in the basement, say he moved away or do ANYTHING before you'd send him back to that? What on earth?? This poor child needs protection.

Forget homeschooling for just a sec here. Treatment like that demands parents violate compulsory attendance laws if they have to. He can learn his algebra later... but this is just not ok.

One interesting anti-bullying idea I came across was to have the little tykes narc on their bully classmates. That's right. The teachers gather the rat-out sheets and compile the "top ten" lists of accused "bullies." Then they act all surprised when some of the parents think their little snowflake can do no wrong. (Maybe that's because unsubstantiated claims like that... leading to labelling a child... IS very wrong. Or maybe it's because their kid really is a little tyrant if 98 out of 100 kids listed his name, but I'm thinking innocent until proven guilty is sorta good policy.)

I don't pretend to have all the answers. I do know schools are in a very tough position. I do agree that schools should be safe places where kids can learn. But what Megan McSillie is posting to her facebook account at 4 pm shouldn't have anything to do with school unless there is some direct threat. Then get the cops involved.

Beyond that, I'm not sure what the answer is. I remember junior high as being the worst time of my life. Looking back, there are some things that 40-year-old me would so not care about. But 13-year-old me? Was devastated about some of the insults and nastiness I encountered. I'm glad that part of my life is over. :)


  1. This looks so interesting. Will read and come back to comment further later.

    Just wanted to tip my hat to you for linking to a very interesting piece.

  2. "Bullying occurs regularly when people who have no political power and are ruled in top-down fashion by others are required by law or economic necessity to remain in that setting."

    This sentence describes how I feel about the federal government. Like I am being bullied. Why don't they just get pediatricians to inject a tracking chip in everyone and be done with it.

    Great, now I'm on a list somewhere...

  3. Speaking of the tracking babies function, no one does it like NZ.
    When we moved to NZ in 2008 I have been fighting a constant battle. There is a drive here, that is not present in America, to enroll your child in every government sponsored or community accepted program. It starts with "Plunket" visiting nurses who come to the house after baby is born to check on feeding, give vaccinations, and weigh/measure. They also ask questions like "is your partner beating you?" even when there is no evidence of that. Then there is "Play Group" this is to teach your babies and toddlers to play together, independent of Mom. Followed by 20 hours of government paid child care for every child at age 3. Which leads to the "smooth transition" into school at age 5.

    None of these are particularly bad on their own. What bothers me is the pressure I get from our GP, his nurse, people at church, and family members to enroll in every program that comes along. While they provide a service that many people need what bothers me is this notion that all children need to participate. As if I am somehow denying my children of something by not enrolling them in every program under the sun. What happened to the best thing we could do for our kids was to stay home with them?

    What I really love, in relation to bullying, is when people tell me that bullying is not a good enough reason to homeschool. Really? Raising healthy children who get to avoid the horrible aspects of bullying in junior high and/or high school seems like a great reason to homeschool to me.


Non-troll comments always welcome! :)