Today we are reading about a lovely Irish girl bullied into suicide inMassachusetts. One need only to watch the feeble responses of the school officials to see that this problem is only getting worse and that parents cannot rely on teachers and administrators to deal with this.
Bullies are the Symptom, Clueless Parents and Cowardly Teachers are the Problem.
Why is there no response to the growing threat of bullies in our schools? You have to look only at the primary profiles of teachers. Most teachers have similar profiles to many HR professionals; they avoid confrontation, change, challenge and especially any kind of conflict, or risk taking, i.e. sticking out their necks to solve an issue. They are guardians of the status quo which is also apparent in their reluctance to adopt any new innovative learning and teaching strategies, even when they are readily and obviously superior to traditional techniques.
Even when a traditional technique as phonics which has been proven over centuries is re-introduced because the chosen technique of the administrations are not working, they are even slow at changing back – too much work, too much risk.
They are challenged by many of our gifted, visionary children and prefer to drug them on Ritalin, etc. rather than appreciate and nurture their special gifts and vision. They stick their heads in the sand in the face of outrageous behavior.
The teen suicides from being bullied occur when the student has no one who is willing to even the odds, level the playing field. One mother who suffered with her son through 4 years of bullying and 4 schools said the only time anyone intervened or helped was a coach. Why??? Because coaches are more likely than regular teachers to have the profile of problem solver, initiator, decision maker, risk taker. Not all coaches by any means have those, but in a traditional public school, if anyone has these traits, it is more likely the coach. Maybe we should develop better programs for coaches to intervene with bullies on the playing field where they can really get the bully’s attention.
Gutlessness in managers, teachers, administrators and any other position of authority leaves all who are under their authority with lower morale, performance, satisfaction and well being. Gutlessness occurs in 70% of the population so the numbers are against the ideal of solving this everywhere. But, sure, we can do a better job of promoting into these positions, and not put the gutless in charge of others’ destinies. We need to seek out the truly accountable teachers and get them to leadership roles, as many of them are shunned by their peers who are uncomfortable with those that take a stand, say what they think and are actioneers.
Ambivalence Report – 70% of Americans (reported in the State Newspaper9/28/99) are ambivalent – want “smaller government” but do not want any of THEIR services or safety net decreased. That is because the 70% while intellectually knowing it sounds better to support accountability, self-actualization etc. truly do not believe they can be accountable or self-actualized without a safety net. The 30% who take such behaviors for granted always want smaller government etc, more autonomy. The profiles of 30%/70% explain this, but no one seems to want to stand up for this, nor to initiate policy making decisions that accommodate this.