In my last post, I talked about the fact that kids with learning disabilities or attentional difficulties are at greater risk of being bullied. I outlined some of the signs of being bullied since some kids don’t want to report bullying since they see it as tattling, and I talked about the the problems kids have because of interpersonal miscommunication. I went on to suggest what to do and what not to do to help victims. If you are listening to this as a podcast, please come to my site www teachers at risk dot com and read the post “Students with learning difficulties or AD/HD are more at risk of being bullied”. In that post I focused on the victim of bullying and I had intended to focus on the bully in my this post, but some interesting developments dealing with cyber-bullying have just occurred here in Ontario.
I was looking through the newspaper and came upon it this
“Bullying is bullying” whether it’s done on-line or in a schoolyard, Premier Dalton McGuinty said Tuesday as his government introduced new legislation to add cyber-bullying to the list of offenses for which a student can be suspended or expelled from an Ontario school.
Changes to the province’s Safe Schools Act were introduced Tuesday to stop students from posting comments, pictures or videos attacking another student or teacher on popular online sites such as YouTube.
It’s the first time either physical or on-line bullying will be formally prohibited in provincial schools.
Good I thought, and then because I was reading this article on line I thought I would check out the comments. There were comments like the following one that didn’t think the legislation was a good idea:
David Le Gallez from Ottawa, Canada writes: Give me a break. What has happened to kids from my generation to the current. When I was a kid there were bullies. No one killed themselves or others over it. You had 2 options; take mom’s advise and walk away or fight back. I was bullied in early high school. I chose to fight back. After my second fight with the local bully, and subsequently sending the bully to the hospital, I was never bothered again.
Kids today have to grow a thicker skin. We do not need to be gaging them. And by the way… This has got to be one of the stupidest ideas I have every heard.
There were other comments like the following one supporting the initiative.
Larry King Jr. from Sarnia, Canada writes: It’s about time. Both teachers and students have been targets of vicious attacks against their character and being. And often the bully is even more vicious when hiding behind a moniker.
lad lladie from Canada writes: David Le Gallez, I know of two students who killed themselves because of bullying and the failure of teachers to help them out when they asked for help. I know at least one kid who was actually killed by her peers because they considered her different. All the comments mocking this law must be from people who bullied in school, otherwise I can’t understand why so many people are against it. Why some people have to lord it over others that happen to be physically smaller or of a different color or gay? Why give yourself gratuitous laughter at the expense of other people pain?
There were over sixty comments in all on the topic. Some of them were quite interesting to read. Some of the comments were a bit snarky though. You can check them out for yourself I’ll just put the link here.
Along with this announcement was another one that there was going to be $31 million dollars in new money, of which $23 million was going to go for programs for suspended and expelled students and the remainder for anti-discrimination training for principals and vice-principals. Eight millon dollars going to anti-discrimination training for principals and vice-principals. I had to read that twice. Who would have thought that was necessary! If it really is, then I’m glad there is going to be training for principals and vice-principals. The $23 million dollars going at-risk kids is a great idea. There need to be programs for kids who can’t cope in regular schools and get kicked out. It’s in society’s best interest to teach them how to behave appropriately. That’s what the alternative classes like Second Chance do. They help kids turn themselves around so that they learn to take responsibility for their actions and make better choices for better consequences. It’s better for us to spend the money on alternative education programs than jails. I taught teenagers in jail for three years early in my career and it’s not a healthy environment. It seemed to me they just learned more bad habits from one another. The way I see it is that schools are better for kids than jails.
One of these alternative classes that I’m familiar with is limited to sixteen students and has two teachers, a child care worker and an educational assistant. There’s lots of support there from different perspective. I’ve taught kids who have turned themselves around with support. It’s amazing. They do change. They want to change, but just don’t know how to go about it. I remember one kid I taught in jail telling me that she knew it was better to change her ways but if she changed her ways her friends on the outside wouldn’t be her friends anymore and then where would she be. She’d have no friends. I often think about her and wonder what happened to her after she was release from custody. Aside from earning a math and English credit with me, I really don’t know what else she gained while she was incarcerated. It’s sad. It really is. All those young kids wasting their lives. The other thing I used to think about and still do when I see these young teenage girls making poor decisions and reaping unwanted consequences that chances are they will mothers and raise their kids on their own without a lot of support. My Board has an alternative program for teenage girls who have kids. They can bring their kids to school while they attend classes. I think that’s great. It’s something I might do in the future. I’d like to work with the young moms and their kids. I’ve learned and would enjoy passing it along.
These programs of course cost money and I’m glad the government has decided to fund alternative programs. Probably some of the kids who are bullies will find themselves in these alternative classes. One of the students I taught told me she used to fight all the time because she had a anger problem and now she has learned how to deal with her anger in a different way. Another kid told me he used to be a bully, but now he isn’t because he learned to deal with things in a better way. It’s amazing what a turn around these kids made with help. Schools need to be a safe place for kids to learn. The kids who can’t manage in a regular setting need an alternative setting. Educating kids is better than incarcerating them.
In my next post, I’m going to argue that bullying is a cry for help and we can’t afford not to listen.