Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Back to Bullying in Schools

Despite all the recent anti-bullying initiatives in schools, surprise, surprise: the problem of truly terrible bullying in schools has not gone away.

From the Beeb Website:

"To give some indication of how bad the bullying can be in some cases, Dr Herbert recalls how one child had been hit over the head so badly that he had to have a metal plate inserted. Another boy had been forced to swallow a sharpened coin which made him very ill. He was too scared to tell his mother and doctor and it was only when he was x-rayed in hopsital three weeks later that the problem came to light."

and further re the children at her centre, Dr Herbert says:

"I would say 50% of our children have attempted suicide."


Given that we know that school children have always faced serious problems in this regard, the fact that some truly terrible stories are only now making their way to the press is most likely a product of a gradual realisation that it simply will not do to paper over these facts any more. At last (though way too late for many), it seems as if the damage resulting from being forced to go to an abusive institution is finally being recognised by some professionals and by the press as a whole. I suppose we should resist the urge to say "Duhhh, how slow can you be?" in response to paragraphs such as the following:

"Dr Herbert says it is crucial to stop bullying in schools so that lives are not ruined. "It has a terrible effect on people's lives. I've met adults who say they don't form relationships, can't trust people, can't hold down a job and so on because they were bullied in school. ""If we don't deal with bullying between the ages of 11 and 17, then we are storing up problems for the future."

The two anti-bullying initiatives which were reported in the article look like just so much papering over the cracks. They will do nothing to alter the fact that an increasing number of children, either consciously or otherwise, realise that they are being placed in a morally corrupt position of being forced to go to a place against their will. School, for most children is predicated upon being bullied.

Their response? Well, if not sufficiently supported to think and behave otherwise, children will take this meme on board and start bullying themselves, or else they will realise that the institution is completely corrupt and doesn't deserve their attention or support. Chatting to young pupils about the awfulness of bullying and temporarily taking victims out of school, only to return them cruelly to their place of torture a year later, doesn't address this root problem in the slightest.

Good grief. When will people wake up to the fact that we are trying to help our children be responsible autonomous beings in a free and open society. How can this possibly be achieved when all that is offered them for the whole of their young lives is a model of how to live whilst being coerced?

A radical new approach to education will rapidly become necessary as the meme of schooling righty collapses under the weight of stories such as these. We need to think seriously about how a Home Educating society could work.

6 comments:

Leo said...

For starters, children have to be allowed to earn money. Children's art sell well but even in sites like the Natural Child Project the money doesn't go to the children, but to the project (unless a third party contacts them to use the art, then they encourage the companies to pay the families). People that claim to get it about children still have a lot to learn it seems.

Carlotta said...

EC Directive 94/33, Protection of Young People at Work, says that:
During school terms, children may work for:

A maximum of two hours on schooldays
A maximum of two hours on Sundays
A maximum of five hours (13-14 year olds) or eight hours (15-16 year olds) on Saturdays.

This is all subject to a maximum weekly limit of twelve hours in total.

During school holidays, children may work for:

A maximum of five hours (13-14 year olds) or eight hours (15-16 year olds) on weekdays
This is subject to a maximum weekly limit of 25 hours (13-14 years olds) or 35 hours (15-16 year olds).

....

It does seem a tad extraordinary that in trying to prevent exploitation, the ptb totally ignore the enormous exploitation of making children go to school often totally against their will, forcing them work very hard for no pay.

And as in your example, it rather looks as if the legislation actually directly exacerbates the exploitation.

I dunno...perhaps I'm being very naive here, but I can't see hundreds of sweatshops opening up here in the UK should this legislation be loosened
up.

Carlotta said...

Oh...Leonor...also meant to ask...Is there any chance of setting up an atom or RSS feed on yours?

Anonymous said...

From the age of 16 children are paid to study if that is what they choose to do and, from conversations with young people who are doing this, it would seem that it is giving some of them the option of continuing full time study when they wouldn't have otherwise had the chance.

D

Leo said...

An atom or RSS feed on my blog? I have no idea how that works and what it's for.

Carlotta said...

Re: Atom Feed or RSS feed...It is a way of people reading your blog through a news aggregator such as www.bloglines.com. One of the main advantages of this is that your readers can see when you have posted without having to directly go to your site.

I think you can set the site feed up quite easily in blogger by following the instructions through the Help menu on how to set up a site feed. I think they only give you the Atom option, but this works just find for most. All you have to do is insert a little bit of code into your template, and the site feed option should come up on your blog.

But to be honest, you probably could much better advice on this elsewhere as am pretty useless with this sort of thing!