Why are schools so loath to punish bullies?

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Comp_Geek_573
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09 Aug 2012, 12:32 pm

Too often, it seems like the VICTIM gets more punishment than the bully. Schools have been known to criticize the victim for "tattling" - or worse, punish the victim for self-defense. Not to mention that the bullies set bad examples for the victims, who may not be fully up on the social norms...

Why is this? I know that the parents of bullies can exert a lot of pressure on the school to let the bully off easy (or even scot-free) - that's if the bully is even caught - but where's the fear of the VICTIM'S parents filing a lawsuit or giving the school bad publicity?

If it were up to me, any punishment for bad behavior would be multiplied by 10 if I could prove that the behavior had the specific purpose of making someone suffer. While the same behavior out of cluelessness would not be punished at all, for the first offense at least.


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thewhitrbbit
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09 Aug 2012, 1:18 pm

I think in general there has been a shift in society towards victim blaming and a vilification of self defense.



nolan1971
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09 Aug 2012, 1:21 pm

Nowadays nobody wants to take the time to figure out who started the fight which is really sad.
I remember going to school and the teachers really cared enough to sort things out punishing the bully
and a much lighter slap on the wrist to the victim but they never punished you for defending yourself
unless you went too far. Not to mention the punishment for bullying was more severe back then if you were
caught multiple times your were suspended or kicked out of school. (the way it should be)



LabPet
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09 Aug 2012, 1:45 pm

You're precisely right. And the approach is seriously skewed.

A definition of bullying is 'an imbalance of power.' Therefore, to arrange a meeting with the bully plus his/her victim is a tragic mistake! In fact, the bully then gets the satisfaction of 'sticking it' to their victim. WHY do those in authority, be it teachers, instructors, supervisors, etc. do this??? To what end, to further torment the victim? Bullies do not, ever, admit to bullying. So if a so-called authority figure asks the tormenter "Are you bullying <insert name>?" The answer is invariably, "Why no, of course not. Not at all. <insert name> shouldn't be so sensitive, &/or he/she is 'making it up', etc." Then the victim is hit-up yet again by the authority! The bully wins and their bad behaviour is further condoned. Worse, bullies do not have the ethical capacity to even care about the damage they're inflicting. The cycle continues.

Down with bullies :cry: I have a hard time reconciling the fact that an individual can, say, go to jail for stealing a cardigan, yet bullies who can seriously inflict trauma, to the extent of post-traumatic stress disorder or even the suicide of their victim, have no accountability.

I really believe that the AS community needs to be proactive about bullying - zero tolerance. Bullying is violence.


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Musicc
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09 Aug 2012, 2:31 pm

Labpet is right on the mark. I used to hate both teachers and students. most students were bullies, as also were teachers. Parents didn't give a damn. So called friends were worse than bullies in that they mocked you. Horrible ...



auntblabby
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09 Aug 2012, 9:30 pm

social darwinism has long been deeply entrenched in american culture.



LabPet
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10 Aug 2012, 2:52 am

Devastatingly bad advice is to ignore bullying. Bullying is harassment - it's psychological harassment that's akin to sexual harassment and physical assault. To instruct the victim to 'ignore it' teaches them they're essentially worthless individuals who 'deserve' mistreatment and this can have serious repercussions later in life too. [Caveat: Sure, some innocuous name-calling and minor teasing incidents do need to be ignored and children do need to learn this.]

Some Wrong Planet members/friends have shared their own experiences of bullying and it's chillingly horrific. I am so sorry for what has been endured and maybe worse, that it was ignored.

Mystifying as to why basic civil human rights seems to elude those so-called authority figures. Would you say to a woman who has just experienced, for instance, her colleague inappropriately touching her, accompanied by threatening behaviour or ultimatums that she ought to 'make nice' to her assailant? To be more 'thoughtful to his feelings?' And that she ought to learn to get along? Oh really? This tactic instead should be termed 'how to induce suicide' yet school systems use this very method to deal with bullying. And they cannot seem to work out why it doesn't work.....well duh.


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10 Aug 2012, 3:16 am

LabPet wrote:
Devastatingly bad advice is to ignore bullying. Bullying is harassment - it's psychological harassment that's akin to sexual harassment and physical assault. To instruct the victim to 'ignore it' teaches them they're essentially worthless individuals who 'deserve' mistreatment and this can have serious repercussions later in life too. [Caveat: Sure, some innocuous name-calling and minor teasing incidents do need to be ignored and children do need to learn this.]

Some Wrong Planet members/friends have shared their own experiences of bullying and it's chillingly horrific. I am so sorry for what has been endured and maybe worse, that it was ignored.

Mystifying as to why basic civil human rights seems to elude those so-called authority figures. Would you say to a woman who has just experienced, for instance, her colleague inappropriately touching her, accompanied by threatening behaviour or ultimatums that she ought to 'make nice' to her assailant? To be more 'thoughtful to his feelings?' And that she ought to learn to get along? Oh really? This tactic instead should be termed 'how to induce suicide' yet school systems use this very method to deal with bullying. And they cannot seem to work out why it doesn't work.....well duh.


I wish there were a like button. This post deserves it. Very good insights.



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10 Aug 2012, 7:47 am

That's what I liked about my old high school. Teachers looked the other way if you defended yourself. There was this guy who gave everyone a hard time. One day, this girl snapped and started screaming and hitting him after he said something mean to her. Everyone on all floors could hear it. Not only did she not get in trouble, but the guy who started it was the laughing stock from there on out.


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11 Aug 2012, 7:45 am

LabPet wrote:
You're precisely right. And the approach is seriously skewed.

A definition of bullying is 'an imbalance of power.' Therefore, to arrange a meeting with the bully plus his/her victim is a tragic mistake! In fact, the bully then gets the satisfaction of 'sticking it' to their victim. WHY do those in authority, be it teachers, instructors, supervisors, etc. do this??? To what end, to further torment the victim? Bullies do not, ever, admit to bullying. So if a so-called authority figure asks the tormenter "Are you bullying <insert name>?" The answer is invariably, "Why no, of course not. Not at all. <insert name> shouldn't be so sensitive, &/or he/she is 'making it up', etc." Then the victim is hit-up yet again by the authority! The bully wins and their bad behaviour is further condoned. Worse, bullies do not have the ethical capacity to even care about the damage they're inflicting. The cycle continues.


When the first signs of bullying happened to me, the school arranged a 'peer mediation' between me and the three bullies. Those idiots at the the school never seemed to grasp 1) the bullies are smooth talkers and are masters at the game. They have no problems faking an apology and a handshake 2) the bullies don't get a s$&
about their victim and they all felt I deserved it 3) they REALLY ramped up the bullying when they realized this was their way of 'stopping' it.

It was also framed in a everyone is at fault paradigm when the fact is I was the victim and they were the perpetrators end of story.



BenderRodriguez
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11 Aug 2012, 8:25 am

auntblabby wrote:
social darwinism has long been deeply entrenched in american culture.


Yes, and in this type of society adults know such tactics will make "successful" people, hence the enabling. As far as they're concerned the "weak" might as well perish, it's just not PC to say it out loud these days.

Never ignore bullies, fight for yourself in any way you can.



ghoti
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11 Aug 2012, 11:17 am

And factor in the parents. Many of them either don't care or are aghast that their precious child would ever be accused of bullying not to mention those who actually encourage bullying, and many school administrators don't want to deal with them so they just let it pass. Even in private schools, parents have threatened to pull financial support if their "precious" child is punished.



RubyWings91
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11 Aug 2012, 12:58 pm

The bullying in grade school was horrible for me too. I simply tried to avoid the classmate or teacher as much as I could. If this didn’t work, I would try to hide how much they bothered me rather than confront the problem (which seemed to get me nowhere). Of course because I was bottling up my emotions, the result was a breakdown in the hallway somewhere, one or two times a year.

At least I was fortunate enough to have parents who would actively intervene if the bullying at school would get out of hand. Of course, the school policy basically consists of doing nothing and the parent of the bully, as mentioned by Ghoti, either don’t care or don’t believe the victim. So it often took a lot of fighting to get any justice whatsoever.



Comp_Geek_573
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13 Aug 2012, 4:56 pm

Here's one thing: bullies deserve punishment, but not permanent punishment. It could be that the parents of bullies fear that if their kid is punished, that would keep the kid from getting into Harvard (which I think is overrated) or even from getting a job down the line...

Bullies are terrible, but I think very few if any are incorrigible. A good punishment for bullying should be very painful in the short term, but not leave the permanent record that the parents likely fear.


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auntblabby
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13 Aug 2012, 8:49 pm

bullies need to be collected into a mob, then deposited on a deserted island someplace in the middle of the ocean, to stew in their own juices and to bully each other in a living incarnate purgatory.



MissMoneypenny
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14 Aug 2012, 11:01 am

It's because in many cases, the bullies are more popular with the school staff than their victims. Sad but true.

While there may only be a hardcore of real vindictive, malicious kids, and slightly more hangers-on who stand around snickering while the bullies do their dirty work, the vast majority enable them by standing and watching and refusing to get involved. If even a handful of the kids who witnessed stuff going on while I was at school had reported it at the time, perhaps the teachers might have started to get some idea of the scope of the problem.

Also, a lot of bullying is subtle and it is only its prolonged and persistent nature that does the damage. For instance, you walk into the room, and everyone who sees you enter immediately stops their conversations and just stares at you until you leave. If you turn your back they will all start giggling, and when you look at them again, they go back to cold persistent staring. When it's your word against theirs, and it doesn't sound that "bad" to a parent or teacher who hasn't been personally observing, it can be very difficult to effectively communicate the scale of the bullying.