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Why don't teachers recognize bullies?

Updated on July 8, 2014

Bullies, the next mythological creature

Studies have shown these days that bullies are not your typical Gooch, trolling for lunch money, nor are they the overgrown thugs wanting dominance. No, they’re the cool kids with stylish clothes, trendy hair, and internet connections. They charm the teacher, earn decent grades, and terrorize their dorky classmates.

The dorky classmates are sometimes the whiners, the annoying boy with the nasal voice or the girl who coughs on everything, the stinky girl in the middle row or the greasy haired, pimple faced boy in math class, the complainers or the nervously impulsive random interjectors. These outcasts sometimes secretly annoy the teacher, and bewitched by the charm of the popular kid, the teacher believes the bullied child is just creating a new complaint or making it up, or even bringing it on himself.

While a long-term substitute at a rural school, a homosexual young man asked to be switched from one period to another because of constant teasing from his peers. His request was granted, but in his new class, the teasing continued. One of the baseball jocks suggested with a leer, “let’s all have boyfriends.” His comment was met by snickers. I intervened each time one of the baseball players would start this line of contempt, and I went to the principal. But, I was told that the principal would talk to his ball players and “that’s just how athletes bond.” I didn’t realize bullying was a male bonding moment.

The assistant principal informed me that “he brings it on himself by acting so gay!” He IS gay, he’s confident, secure in who he is, and he’s BEING who he is. Why can’t we celebrate him and teach acceptance?

And a liberal guidance counselor has said those same words: “she brings it on herself.” How do we get teachers and adults to believe the victim and deal with the bully?

In a 2012 workshop I attended, I participated in an exercise. The speaker set a crayon-drawn picture on each table and had each person pick up the picture, say something rude to the girl or boy pictured there, and crumple up the paper before passing it to the right. Some of my conference colleagues had no problem with the assignment, but I found it hard being mean to my little crayon girl. Yes, she was badly drawn, but I didn’t seen any need to be unkind. It’s not her fault she’s not beautiful and has purple skin and green hair. I actually got teary eyed in my empathy, earning me a few scoffing glances and remarks. Once our girl made her rotation around the table, our speaker asked us to un-crumple the paper, pass it around and say something encouraging. After this was accomplished, we were asked to make an observation about our pictured victim. Even when we say something nice, she is still crumpled, still damaged from the hurtful words previously said. This exercise made such an impact on me. In the two years since attending, I have tried to incorporate this into two different schools during anti-bullying week. I was told it seemed silly, it was a waste of time, our students just won’t get it, and bullying really isn’t a problem.

This past year, a colleague showed the Bullying Project movie and had the students write letters to bullies, victims, and the adults who handled accusations of bullying. My students did a Socratic symposium and had several intense discussions in my classroom after seeing the movie in another class. These students were bothered by what they had seen on the screen, but also in the hallways. They came up with solutions, but they’re “just kids.” Until we grown-ups recognize and address the problem, the bullies will keep on bullying.

To This Day

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    • DaisysJourney profile image
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      DaisysJourney 3 years ago from Midwest, USA

      Thank you, mothersofnations, for your transparency. In admitting this, you can start to find healing. I will also join you in praying for your healing and the healing of those you feel you affected. May you be blessed as you heal.

    • mothersofnations profile image

      Mothers of Nations 3 years ago

      How sad that I'm almost embarrased that I admitted that here. I learned to overcome my own aggression while still in grammar school, but again, the video made me realize the conviction I still feel about it and how I still hurt from my own experiences of being shamed - I guess I haven't gotten over it but I pray that all those I hurt have... I think it's time I begin addressing my pain with the Lord and seek His healing. Again, I thank you for posting the article and video - it was an awakening for me. I pray for the all children you help in one way or another. God bless you in all your efforts and I pray the article will touch more lives...

    • mothersofnations profile image

      Mothers of Nations 3 years ago

      Wow. I did not expect to be so affected by the article and video. It rings so true as one who bullied for season and was bullied many more times than that. I've never admitted that... Made me realize how much I still hold on to it - the guilt of being mean to others in childhood and my own pain as the receiver of it for so many years. Thank you for sharing. God bless you...

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      Farah N Liung 3 years ago

      I totally agree with the last sentence. I've had friends who reported being bullied by a teacher to the counselor and my friend ended up switching out from the class. That is one way to go about it.

    • DaisysJourney profile image
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      DaisysJourney 3 years ago from Midwest, USA

      Oh, I agree, Farah, most of my "cool" kids are pretty awesome people, good leaders, active in their community and school, and friendly to their peers. Unfortunately, many cool and popular kids are the ones behind the bullying. Many of them are the ones using social media and texting to harass their classmates. I've taught for 13 years and have observed more cool kids being "mean" than the stereotypical social misfits. But a bully CAN be anyone, sadly even a teacher...

    • profile image

      Farah N Liung 3 years ago

      Not all cool kids are bullies. They can be anyone.