Sunday, April 29, 2007

Victims of School Bullying

Following the tragic news of yet another school-related bullycide,

"Dr Stuart Newton, a retired headteacher and current part-time teacher at Brighton and Hove Sixth Form College (BHASVIC) believes society must react to the lessons to be learned from Ben Vodden's story. He has been increasingly critical of the apparent lack of action among those in a position of authority, including the media, to combat bullying.

He said: "My job, for the last 40 years, has involved disentangling the endless hate trails of bullies in schools. I have listened to the endlessly pathetic excuses of the bullies and their parents about why their behaviour is justified. Of course, the response of the rest of society is complacency. They sit on the sidelines, criticise and do nothing of any use."

"After 40 years of teaching young people in secondary schools, I have learned a number of things about bullies. The bullying Ben endured in Horsham happens in every school in the country. The techniques of some bullies are more refined than others but the aims are the same - to wound, humiliate and scare their victims. Most teachers could give you a list of the children in their school who are out-andout bullies, and so could most of the children. Most teachers could give you a list of those children who are the henchmen, the ones who do the dirty work of the bully. Most teachers know that the vast majority of children would never get involved in bullying but they feel powerless to stop it. My frustration is that there is no obvious serious action that anyone is taking to tackle the issue."

I think Dr. Newton has the measure of the extent of bullying in many school situations, but actually contrary to his assertion that no one is taking obvious serious action to remedy the situation, some parents do know exactly what to. In recent months, we have seen four de-registrations from a local school which happened directly as a result of persistent and apparently unstoppable bullying - this from a school which has a reputation for having a very active anti-bullying policy and for generally being attentive to the needs of pupils. Despite the policies and initiatives there, things were still appallingly bad for these children, and their parents therefore took the appropriate step; they didn't hang about waiting for further institutional change, which anyway so far hasn't made the blindest bit of difference. These parents took their responsibilities seriously and removed their children from a horrific experience which was slowing or completely impeding learning.

Almost anything these families do from now on would be an improvement on what went before, but actually contrary to reports that parents who remove their children from school as a result of bullying are less likely to be able to provide a suitable education for their children, these parents seem to be making a fantastic job of helping their children to enjoy learning once again. (One of them is actually a reformed teacher and another a recovering special needs teaching assistant, ie: they know what is happening in those places!)

Think about Home Education if your child is being bullied. It can and does solve a serious problem, for whilst there may be instances of bullying in the HE community, these are few and far between, probably because the pressure is off - people can walk away, and because of the high number of parents and guardians around to sort it out. Bullying in HE groups is generally trivial compared to the terrifying situation that can be bullying in school.


Anonymous said...

I would, though, have preferred to have been able to offer the option of staying in school rather than being left with removal as the only way to beat the bullying.

A change of the entire set up of school - involuntary attendance to classes - would go a long way to alleviating the bullying. The teachers and parents are providing the example. (As we have all said many times before, but it still makes me annoyed that such possibilities aren't raised!)


Anonymous said...

i mean REMOVAL of involuntary attendance, of course!!

Anonymous said...

This is indeed tragic. I really feel for the parents. But as a victim of bullying at every single school I went to, I know what it feels like to have nowehere to turn.

I tried not to think about this arguement when I was considering Home Educating my baby, and in the end, other reasons swayed me for it. But it does remain that Home Education is a great way to stop bullying. If only more parents knew about it.

As an adult I was harrassed at work, I guess you could call this bullying too. Noone beleived me for a long time and blamed me for a while too!

Anyway, the point is, that adult bully people too, and I think there needs to be a shift in culture to stop it.

Carlotta said...

One of the excuses that people seem to cite for allowing bullying to continue in school is that bullying happens in the workplace.

I personally have worked in quite a number of different settings in my time, and was only mildly and tolerably bullied in one out of all of these. I simply walked away from this place and found a more conducive environment to work in. Adults needn't tolerate it, and neither should children.

IndigoShirl said...

Teachers bully children terribly in school as well as other children which is why nothing is ever really done about it.

My belief is that most think it a natural part of finding your place in the pecking order.

Its so sad for these children. Forced to go back day after day. I, for one, would like to see some real and constructive change - but I'm not holding my breath!!