Anti-bullying has become a large part of modern society and has been one of the main topics of conversation when it comes to our youth. Assemblies, campaigns and school programs have all been offered up as solution, but the issue is not seeing resolve, nor is it getting any better for our children. Why is this?
The anti-bullying campaign is failing our youth in so many ways that children experience nothing but fear when it comes to not fitting in or being ostracized by their peers. The most crucial hick-up in the plan to alleviate these fears is actually the school system itself. Children have no safety at school anymore, and the time to talk about it is over.
The most important step in the plan to eliminate bullying is learning new coping strategies. Gone are the days when you are able to tell your child that they can defend themselves when becoming a victim of bullying. This presents itself to be a double edged sword. No, you should never solve violence with violence, however, the theory that walking away vilifies the bully who thrives on the weakness of another.
All too many times you will hear of a child turning to an adult, usually a teacher or counsellor, to solve the issues at hand, which can even further ostracized them within there social groups. "Baby", "Tattle-tale", "Wimp", these are harsh words that often are not just coming from the bully, but also parents and adults alike. It also further alienates the child, almost as though they have a problem than the actuality of what they are experiencing. "Children are children" doesn't cut it! If a child cannot feel safe and comfortable talking to the teachers or adults at school, then how will they ever overcome the circumstances at hand?
Another very visible flaw is in the action stage. All of the assemblies, wearing pink and talking mean nothing if the "Zero Tolerance" concept is not followed through with. A frightening number of cases get swept under the carpet, with no recourse to the child exhibiting bullying behaviour and in many cases the bullied being "punished" for speaking out or making an accusation against another child. If this seems unbelievable, take a look online at the astronomical instances pointing to exactly this! Again, were does the victim in this see any result or feel that they are being taken seriously?
The action stage, when it presents itself, is also not working here. First of all, a suspension from school or bus for a few days does not a bully stop. In fact, most children would consider this quite a nice holiday. Trusting that a parent would have some kind of punishment for their actions is also not something to rely on. Mandatory counselling should accompany any suspension and be a requirement for the child to attend after an instance of bullying. The parent or parents of the child should also be required to attend courses designed to help them educate their child and work toward resolve with them.
As a parent, the norm would say that we will stand by our child and see that they are safe and loved, however, they spend a good portion of their lives in the hands of the school system. We trust that the same philosophy is practiced in this environment, but this is not truly the case in many ways, especially in bullying.
True, the school system is lacking in teachers, supervision, funding and more, but the fact of the matter is that we are being told that bullying will not be acceptable in any way, shape or form. This tells us that there need to be some major changes to the way that this matter is being handled within the school system, as we are not seeing enough of a drop in bullying to validate the current stance.