On taking the bold out of bullying
Bullying is everything but normal; school bullying, all that is evil and
abominable the more. Worse yet, when it advances from hectoring to choking
and robbing it is most immoral and criminal.
The latest story is that a 15-year-old schoolboy was made to suffer ignobly
neck trauma and a seven-inch-plus laceration, and muscle soft tissue damage to
boot, because he refused to give up his lunch money to three marauding ninjas
–– actually a lawless trio of fellow students.
The shame, injury and pain suffered by this teen at the hands of another,
with a rope for strangling, speaks to the life-threatening risks of bullying at
school and the consequent complexities and challenges of this browbeating and
belligerence. It is not farfetched that in circumstances like this that a student
victim unable to successfully fend off attack, while simultaneously infuriating his
persistent assailant, could end up lifeless.
Then we would have mothers –– and fathers too –– wailing for their children
and would not be comforted.
The hair-raising impact of bullying is not unknown, and we have spoken at
length publicly about the iniquity and on ways of being rid of it; and schools have
even adopted programmes to deal with the affliction, employing counsel for
both victim and perpetrator. Yet the problem persists.
Can schools do more to ensure the safety and security of our children when
we send them to classes each weekday? Can our schools do more to keep
these young rascals and ruffians at bay or off the school premises altogether
–– that our law-abiding and focused children can pursue their education and life
lessons in comfort, commodiousness, peace and safety?
Of course, we are not suggesting that school educators take over completely
the roles of their students’ parents. After all, mothers and fathers –– guardians
–– have a primary responsibility to instil ethical and moral values in their charges
and educate them on the ideals of considerateness, fairness, goodness and
rectitude and their practice towards those others they will come into contact
with at home, at church, at school, at play.
But school is not a fast-food outlet where, if you do not like the fare or the
service there, you can with the greatest of ease, or filled to your heart’s content
with animus, go to another place and dine.
As a matter of fact, our children are pretty much stuck with their specific
school until they shall graduate. And this alone makes educators responsible for
the physical and psychological protection of our young for as long as they are
under teacher’s care.
Our school authorities at the slightest hint of bullying at their place must deal
decisively with it –– and the perpetrator or perpetrators. The presence of any
serious offender shall be excised.
Where it reaches the point that the police must investigate and there is
the consequence of arrest, the offending child ought to be removed from the
general school population. We cannot continue to pussyfoot with this
bullying in schools.
What is there to say that a parent of the view that there is no serious
effort to protect his or her child from a bully in school would not become so
roused and enraged as to take matters of revenge into their own hands? There
are fewer other things that will bring parents more agony than knowing that
their child has to endure unrequited every day bullying at school, and that they
seemingly can do nothing about it.
And today, with some parents of these mischief-makers –– to be euphemistic
–– living in denial of their children’s penchant for doing ill, there is no likelihood
the family of the bullied schoolchild will get any sympathy or satisfaction from
them. Their little bullies’ bad behaviour will not be dealt with by them.
And even if these parents in denial were remotely minded to give a
complaining mother or father some slight benefit of the doubt they will almost
certainly be ill-equipped to arrive at any resolution of the matter.
The school bullies in our neck of the woods do not normally go to the stage
of strangling. The intimidating stops short of the point of evidential marks on
the body of their victims. Plus, they have worked out that the consequences
of their action are unlikely to be more than a few humdrum sessions on
anger management, or suspension, where they will have more time for their
PlayStations. Corporal punishment is not kosher any more.
So, our bullies are emboldened to keep right on harrying, hassling and
tormenting –– even those who would fight back. The irony is those who would
push back against these oppressors could morph into a band of vigilantes
executing school ground justice.
We need to be rid of bullying some better way!