Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Schools Create This Situation in The First Place

The bullying story is heart-wrenching and tragic. The blame part is where things get messy. While I certainly believe in personal responsibility and that the kids who tormented the girl were horrible, what absolutely no one is considering is the environment. The only other place where you see this kind of behavior take place is in prison and that is because in both situations you have a captive population who are powerless and bullied by warden/principal and correction officers/administrators-teachers (and to a large degree parents as well). The power dynamics that unfolds among the student population is due to their powerless nature and their need to create some kind of environment where they can have power. While I have no love for bullies, the school created the monsters it now seeks to punish and thereby deny culpability. While people are also upset with people at the school for turning a blind eye, they miss the point since schools create this situation in the first place.

A 'watershed' case in school bullying?
By Rick Hampson, USA TODAY
SOUTH HADLEY, Mass. — At first, it seemed like a morality play: school officials stand by as an innocent high school freshman, new in town, is harassed into suicide by a pack of older teens.
A week after criminal charges were filed, the case of Phoebe Prince seems more cloudy and complicated, much like the insidious national problem that may have helped kill her: school bullying.

Read the entire article

Schools Create a Culture Where Bullies Can Thrive

I applaud this article even though it does not address the root cause of bully behavior. The problem is that school is essentially a prison-like environment where students have no power. We see this kind of power dynamic in very similar manifestations in prison as well. Schools, by their nature, create this culture that breeds this kind of behavior. The criticism here rightly sees the response by the community as yet another power grab to control students to even more disturbing degrees.

Should we be criminalizing bullies?

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

My heart aches for the parents of Phoebe Prince, the 15-year-old Massachusetts high school student who committed suicide in January after being relentlessly bullied at school and online.

My heart aches for her younger sister, who found Phoebe hanging in the stairwell of the family's home. A scarf the sister had bought her as a Christmas gift was knotted around Phoebe's neck.

My heart aches for Phoebe, who arrived from Ireland last fall only to endure months of abuse from classmates at South Hadley High School, the apparent result of Phoebe's brief fling with a popular football player.

My heart aches, but I also question the wisdom of filing criminal charges against nine of Phoebe's former classmates, as happened last week. Bullying should be taken seriously -- by teachers, administrators, parents and, yes, fellow students. I'm doubtful, though, that criminal prosecution is the best way to punish or prevent it.

Read the entire article