Sunday, February 11, 2007

No Surprise There Then

School children are still being bullied despite all those anti-bullying initiatives in schools.

From the beginning of an article in The Independent,

"The Children's Commissioner, Sir Albert Aynsley-Green, has warned that relentless bullying is driving some children to the brink of suicide, while the number of children counselled by ChildLine about bullying rose by 12 per cent last year. "

Hmm. Given that those anti-bullying initiatives are clearly not working very well, how can parents of bullied and desperate children just stand by and watch this sort of thing happening? They are the ones who are responsible for neglecting their children it seems to me. Worse still, the state simply stands by and does nothing about it.

If your child is being bullied in school and complaints to the school don't work, DO SOMETHING ELSE ABOUT IT. Move your child to another school or home educate them somehow.

Which is better, a temporary loss of income or a suicidal child?


IndigoShirl said...

As usual its the knowledge thing. Most parents are not even aware it is possible to home educate.

We had tried to move her to a different school but there were no places. My daughter went through hell because of bullying until I found out about home ed.

It still makes me angry when I think about it.

Rachel Reed said...

I agree that a lot of parents simply dont know that HE is legal.

I was bullied at every school I went to:

New Secondary for lower 6th

It was usually by other girls and they were all ages in the school, younger and older than me.

Primary school was particularly bad, and I refer to that time as my "prison" time.

Yikes, didn't mean this to be a biography, but I went to "good" schools. So it happens everywhere.

Carlotta said...

Just hearing these stories makes me so angry on your behalf. How can this happen to people in a nominally civilised society? You should both be congratulated on the choices you have made to rectify this situation.

As you rightly point out, Shirl, people in the school system have so little choice. There usually isn't ANY to speak of and this just means that schools can carry on being such terrible places.
What did the Chief Inspector of Schools say lat week...over 240 schools with over 3 million pupils who are not getting an adequate education...and that is without the issue of those individuals who are being bullied in nominally good schools.

Unless more people walk out of these terrible places, and perhaps choose to HE, nothing will be done to improve it!

Rachel Reed said...

I have to say, the fact that I was bullied (and my husband too) wasn't the reason we decided to HE our own child. Really I think it was the opposite, we thought, "well just because we were bullied shouldn't mean we don't send him to school. It might not happen to him.".

The main reason was the fact that I realised I had been institutionalised so much as school plus the informal learning environment so that he could persue what interested him.....

Remebering lots of woodwork/metalwork/language/sports when all I wanted to do was blow up the chemistry room with my experiments! (Well, not in a bad way! You know what I mean)

The first time I met someone who HE'd they had taken their kids out of school because they were bullied. I keep meeting families who HE without trying, so it is spreading! I do my fair share of telling people about it too. So don't be shy anyone!!!

Spread the word. It's not for everyone, but at least people will know it's legal and an option for their family. Then they can decide themselves.

Anonymous said...

Also, even once I found out about HE, it was another good, long moment before I felt I could handle taking that step and breaking away from the norm.
Even in the face of my child's unhappiness, it was not enough to find out about home education. There was a huge fear that taking that step might make things worse. It is more than just knowing one's legal rights, it is embracing a whole new set of ideas and finding a supportive group of people.


A said...

"How can this happen to people in a nominally civilised society?"

Well... Isn't the fact that this is a "civilised society" directly responsible for such things?

I think what most people miss when it comes to this issue is the fact that schools exist *for the express purpose* of maintaining the status quo, thus bullying is actually one of the primary social functions of the school system, so any attempts to eradicate it are doomed to failiure.

Schools exist as a method of social control. Bullying exists as a method of social control. We are a society that fears progress and change, thus individuality is seen as a thing to be feared, controlled, and destroyed.

Bullying helps sustain the supression of individuality, thus it is a much needed tool of those who seek this, and society (no matter how much people may deny this) values the function that it serves.

While society exists, bullying will exist and we can do nothing to change this. It's how we deal with it that counts. We can give our children a strong foundation of self-belief to help them to cope with being bullied, we can teach our children skills necessary to fight back (sarcasam, martial arts etc!), or we can remove our children from society as much as possible.

That's it. Those are our only choices. Sad but true. [shrugs]

Build a new society? Wouldn't change a thing! Any new society would have its own norms, it's own expectations, and those who didn't adhere to these would stand out and become a target for bullying, just as much as in the present system.

We are pack animals and we act like it. :(

But, yes, back to the topic!(LOL) Many people are not even aware of the home ed option, and that needs to change.


Anonymous said...

Dear Adele,

I am not sure that the premises on which you build your argument are accurate.

There is no evidence that schools exist to 'maintain the status quo' or that a civilised society necessarily entails bullying. And we are certainly not the same as 'pack animals'. Pack animals are not able and have never been able to achieve anything remotely similar to what has been achieved by the human race.

I think once those premises are questioned, the idea that bullying is inevitable is again a question that is open to debate.

In a civilised society, one could equally well argue that bullying is not acceptable. Why else would this be something we consistently wish to eradicate?

A microcosm of society that is frequently used is that of the family. Families with bullying exist and families without it exist. One of these families is infinitely more civilised than another.

There is no proof that any society would result in bullying if one infringed the norm.

The reason I mention this is that these ideas might well account for the fact that SO many people (who believe them) accept a bad state of affairs instead of striving to improve it.


Carlotta said...

I like your style, D.

Adele said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Adele said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Adele said...

Apologies if anyone has started replying to my comments, but I decided to delete them. After writing about a three thousand word essay on the nature of society, I decided that it was actually all a bit silly, and that it might be better not to bother! LOL! :)

I think you've misconstrued a lot of what I said, D, but past experience tells me that explanations, rather than clarifying what I mean to say, can often cause further confusion, so I think I'll just let most of it drop! :)

I'll just answer your last point and say that considering bullying to be inevitable doesn't mean not attempting to do something about it - quite the opposite. If we accept that bullying is inevitable then we are more likely to start to work on strategies to help victims (and potential victims) of bullying and minimise their distress and suffering (such as home ed!)

But denying the inevitability of bullying can cause many children to be trapped in traumatic situations unnecessarily while those around them (under the belief that the bullying can be stopped) fight a losing battle to change things.

Far more parents would remove their children from the horrific school system far earlier, if they didn't spend their time futilely trying to stop their child from being bullied first.

The belief that bullying is *not* inevitable that can lead to children being taken out of one terrible school situation and being put straight into another one.

Anonymous said...

Hi Adele,

That is an interesting angle. And makes me think that I don't know if it matters whether bullying is inevitable or not, if the end result is - in either case - to determine to minimise the damage as much as possible.

I possibly responded in the way I did to your post because I have had many people use precisely that argument - ie ALL situations will have bullying in them AND it is inevitable - as a way of justifying leaving the child to suffer until he could resolve it on his own, because, purportedly, 'what doesn't kill you, makes you stronger'. As you can see, a highly illogical and dangerous argument! Given that we don't *really* want to kill our child!!

I can see that you see the dangers of the opposite view to yours and they come out as being as potentially bad as well.

However, I don't think that denying the inevitability of bullying necessarily means that one plunges a child from one bad scenario into another. I think people with both view points would not be so blind (once they have the courage to *see* the problem in the first place and try to minimise it) as to refuse to see the bullying that is there.

In short, I think it looks as though we probably agree in reality!

D Not that disagreement is a problem! :)

Adele said...

Hi D

Ah, I see what you thought now, and I hadn't meant that at all. :)

I meant that continuing to believe that we can stamp out institutional bullying, in spite of much evidence to the contrary, can make us fail to recognise that the problem is the institution itself.

It is my belief that, as long as institutions such as schools exist, then bullying will exist to prop them up. And, the more flawed a system is, the more heavily it relies on "gang mentality" to intimidate people into accepting it.

Through bullying, schools enforce adherence to social norms, such as how society dictates we should look, act, and even think.

If we recognise that this is in-built into the institution of the school, then we are more likely to question whether or not schools are actually beneficial to our children, and accept that they may well not be. Whereas, if we blame poor anti-bullying policies and lenient headteachers etc, we fail to address the real problem - which is that institutions will always value the society they serve above the individual. That is what they are there for.

If we want to place the individual first, then we have to look at ways of escaping institutions altogether, rather than trying to better the institutions.

Does that make any sense? :)

Anonymous said...

Well, I entirely agree with that! We have no hope of eradicating bullying in schools when, as you say, the entire institution only works because of it - the teachers giving, often, the worst examples of all.

It's time we saw the implementation of a radically alternative 'system' of education! :>