22 January 2008

Bullying at school

Bullying is a world wide problem.
Not only at schools and in the playground, but also on workplaces and everywhere else.

The line between innocent teasing and bullying is small and very personal.

With 6 children I've had plenty of time to think about it.
In how far do I want to strengthen my children so they can take it, and where do I put the limit before stepping in.

In the years I have developed a no tolerance policy.
I'm able to enforce it at home reasonably well, and children who visit know I suddenly need my children to clean their room when they start teasing or calling names. Out they go. And no need to come back here within a week.

I've even had one boy keep away for a complete month.
That was ages ago.
He's now an almost grown man, and he still remembers. Last month he said he respected me for it.

Drawing the lines at school has become more and more a problem.
In the past it was easy to mobilize a teacher. The feeling to want to prevent the problem to grow was enough to have a talk with pupil and parents. And the problem was stopped.

But now bullying has grown to a huge problem and the way society works hasn't made it any easier.
The government expects women to work, grandparents to work, so there is none to talk to after school, unless there's an official complaint made.
And even then the fact that the parents needs to take time free from work arouses so many emotions that the message of responsibility isn't heard anymore.

I've seen schools here change from safe and happy environments into places where children have to guard their belongings, their feelings of security and their self esteem.

And the teachers? Many feel they have lost control and regard bullying as too much to handle.

Add to that a feeling of shame and the school becomes a fortress that guards itself against peeking looks inside, and against messages from inside that seep through the cracks to the outside. No spreading of the word!

I've hated the time we had to go with the policy of school to keep problems away from the public eye.
Bullying doesn't go away by ignoring it.

So I said three times I would keep it quiet and leave matters to the school.

Now we've gone to the police.

I don't want my children to grow up with the feeling that they have to fight to stay safe and alive.


bleeding espresso 22 January 2008 at 20:09  

Couldn't agree more, and good on you for taking a stand on such an important issue.

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