Ask The Principal

Sunday, July 30, 2006

"Bullying and Your Child"

I know I said I was going to wrap up the bullying thing. I didn't lie, but I did change my mind. I am also going to put an individual link to the posts relating to this topic at the bottom of this post, per the request of Jefferson Reed of RightFaith

With the "socialization" argument unwilling to die it's deservedly miserable death I suppose I feel compelled to keep driving a wooden stake in its blood sucking/life ruining heart.

I read this article this morning from Yahoo Health: Children's Health News. It repeats a lot of what I have already been saying in this series. Check out these stats though:

Sadly, bullying is widespread. According to a 2004 KidsHealth KidsPoll, 86% of more than 1,200 9- to 13-year-old boys and girls polled said they've seen someone else being bullied, 48% said they've been bullied, and 42% admitted to bullying other kids at least once in a while.

We as parents cannot be so naive to think that within these statistics are our own publicly educated children, if in fact we still have our children in public schools. We cannot actually think that our Christian kids who are being "salt and light" within this age group fit neatly into the 14% not affected in the least by bullying. Remember what Paul said to the Corinthians? (15:33)

Do not be deceived:
"Bad company corrupts good morals."

I'm not nearly the theologian I desire to be so I am reticent to start making exegesis of scripture to make a point unless I am fairly certain I'm not leading someone down a path of an incorrect understanding of God's word. This verse is as plain as it gets. Kind of a no-brainer, if you will.

I do have expertise on the public school institution, culture, and nuances. By relating these things that are not readily observed to the readers of this blog I hope to stimulate some careful thought as to what is best for their children. Presenting these anecdotes and observations will provide data that is often hidden for the sake of perpetuating the existing public school model.

Following is a list of convenient links to the posts on the series of school safety and bullying:

What about public school safety?

Let's talk about bullies...

A typical scenario

The parent /advocate of the bully

One way the bully says everything without saying anything

Again, I am happy to answer questions or make clarifications. It is not my intent to sound as if I am wanting to condemn someone who puts a child into the public education system, but rather to endorse (albeit strongly) an alternative, namely, the nurture and admonition that comes in a homeschool environment.

Along with this endorsement perhaps I can give an insiders look to help a family make an educated decision as to what is best for the whole family and the whole education of their children.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

One way the bully says everything without saying anything

Remember that the bully isn't always overt in his/her actions or statements. In fact, subtlety is an art form for many bullies, that is, subtle to the adult that would disapprove.

One of the best methods of communication for the bully is in how he/she dresses. Can you spot a bully a mile off? That's why. The manner of dress is a powerful communication tool. Over or undersized clothing, hats worn slightly, or completely askew, one pant leg rolled up, the other down, various name brands, etc. The school uniform movement is a result of schools trying to get a handle on the violent, fearful, intimidating, provocative ideas that are communicated by students to establish the peer level social hierarchy.

The dress code that most schools have is another tool to control this type of harassment directed at all staff and students. Yes, I consider how a student dresses a communicative act and thereby constitutes harassment if the message says "fear me". Other messages of "indulge in sin like me", "lust after me", "be arrogant like me" are readily observed. You know "For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but from the world." (I John 2:16).

These communicative acts take place every time your son or daughter looks at this other student. Value judgments, temptations, emotional reactions to varying degrees, all take place in a moment at every glance. All day long. 180 days a year.

Serious quality discipleship that happens in the home of the family that sends it's children to public school may counter the negative effects to a certain degree, but how many Christian homes of publicly educated children have serious quality discipleship? I dare say most don't. I dare say that many feel the 10-15 minutes 2-3 times a week of family devotion (if that)/Bible reading with a heavy reliance upon Sunday School and the church youth ministry is actually going to "equip" their children to be "salt and light", little missionaries if you will, in an environment that is antithetical to anything that is of God.

I know I make bold here, but the head of each home needs to look at the current level of the nurture and admonition of the Lord in the life of their children. Try to be objective and weigh the outcome desired in the life of your child who is in public school, or is in a homeschool environment. Which enables the greatest degree of holy living? I believe that you will find in most cases that the choice is obvious, just not necessarily that easy to make.

I'm wrapping up the "bully" series at this point. It is a little dark and I'd like to put my thoughts in another direction.

Sorry for the length of time between posts as well. I have been on a 2-week road-trip with my oldest son...a father and son adventure that included history (from firing a Confederate cannon at Vicksburg to a shootout at Dodge City), geography (mountains, plains, rivers, divides), geology(geodes, volcanoes, fossils and petrified forests and relating them to ante/post diluvian flood observations/theory), mathematics (used up some great road time across the plains working on math facts....which he really enjoyed by the way), and writing (postcards home from various points of interest). A great bonding time with my 8-year-old.

I also have been, since my return, Mr. Mom (to aide my wonderful, adorable, sweet, patient, loving, humorous, helpmeet, in her time of extreme pregnancy) since we are expecting #5 any day. The official due date is 7/21, but the 4 prior children all seemed to hang on an extra 8-10 days or so. In the meantime I've been cooking and cleaning a lot, and the kids have been learning how to do household chores more efficiently. I've been a great taskmaster!

I check back periodically and will respond to comments, I just may not have as much time for new posts.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

The parent /advocate of the bully

One of the teacher's or administrator's difficulties in dealing with school bullies is dealing with the parent(s) of the bully. Have you heard the expression "the apple doesn't fall far from the tree" ? One cannot presuppose that there will be a level of cooperation from the parents of the bully. In fact, an almost automatic adversarial relationship often develops as soon as bullying behavior is brought up with the parent. Bullying tactics are then demonstrated by the parent toward the teacher or administrator.

The teacher or administrator often becomes "gun-shy" when it comes to getting on the phone to the parent of the bully to report another episode. Administering discipline becomes an arduous process and the skill of the attorney in describing why the bully needs to spend a day or two at home is needed. Then of course the savvy parent brings in other resources claiming that their bully is being mistreated by the school and his/her civil rights and right to a "Free and Appropriate Public Education" (FAPE) is being infringed.

I had a student whose "guardian" had the ACLU fax me a letter stating that I was giving the student an inadequate educational opportunity because I was wanting to limit his exposure to other students at the school. The superintendent didn't want a confrontation and so we just put everyone at school, staff and student alike, in a place where we had to "tolerate" this student's antics. As long as the student didn't physically hurt someone. The mockery endured by the staff resulted in anger and even tears of frustration. Thanks ACLU for being such a great reason for homeschool parents to continue homeschooling!

The pressures on teachers and administrators to maintain a positive learning environment are often tested, even overcome, by pressures placed on this educational venue by other outside sources that can trump the safe school attempt.