Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Why Bullying Contiues - Lack of Accountability

Are you kidding me right now?  In this day and age when the media is continually running ad campaigns of the need to stop bullying, it seems to continue being alive and well.  Amira has been the victim of bullying from a girl in her class pretty much since the start of this school year (August 2012).  I was not aware of this happening until her astute teacher brought it to my attention at our parent/teacher conference (October 2012).  Amira was with me during this conference and between her teacher and I we discussed what had been going on with this other girl and reassuring Amira that no one has the right to say or touch her in anyway.  He acknowledged to Amira he knows she’s (Amira) a kind, respectful person and for her to understand speaking up for herself is not a sign of being unkind or disrespectful.  Learning what was going on in class and how her teacher was attentive to the situation gave me a sense of comfort.

As the school year progressed this little girl’s behavior towards Amira escalated gradually. First it was telling fabricated stories, and then it was doing an inappropriate act during the class picture resulting in not only disrespecting Amira personally but the entire class as well.  Bringing the class picture to the teacher caused him to even step up his vigilance over this little girl.  Tightening the reigns on her movement in class.

Although things seemed to remain under control in class because of the separation and lack of movement around the class on this little girl’s part, the taunting continued during lunch recess, and has since spread to other children (a classmate and friend Amira hangs out with).

The final straw that has broke the camel’s back was when I learned this little bully spit on Amira as well as the other above-mentioned classmate.  She’s a sneaky one all right and clearly knows exactly what she’s doing.  Like a lion waiting patiently to attack its prey, she waited for the opportune time to attack these two girls the moment the teacher left to take his lunch break.  When Amira told me about this latest situation, I immediately contacted the teacher, as this was completely unacceptable. The school has a program called ‘peer mediation’ where two parties can bring their dispute to the table for a panel of their peers to help them resolve the matter.  Unbeknownst to me the school asked Amira and this girl if they would elect to go to peer mediation, as this is one of the countless steps that are taken according to the policies and procedures of the school.  After finding out Amira attended this session I was very upset, as I did not think this particular situation (spitting on someone) was a ‘peer mediation’ dispute as much as I saw it as a physical assault.  My understanding is a dispute is when two or more parties have a disagreement about something and need assistance solving the dispute, NOT a victim and an assailant sitting together discussing the assault.

The teacher’s next step was to have a face-to-face with the parents to discuss their child’s behavior.  The result of this meeting was after much discussing the teacher was able to get the parents to concede that it MIGHT be possible their child is conducting herself inappropriately, BUT that they (parents) believe their child is not malicious but rather not aware of her actions.  ARE YOU KIDDING ME????

After discussing this issue with the Vice Principal last week, I realize even with today’s mass media awareness of bullying so many want to continue believing we don’t live in that reality.  When discussing the issue with the VP last week her response to me was, “first of all that is absolutely disgusting to be spit on, on the other hand we should be thankful we don’t live in East L.A.”.  I just about lost my mind at this statement.  How can someone live in such ignorance that it’s not happening around us?  East L.A., City of Stockton, or any other overly crime-ridden town didn’t get that way over night. In order to change old ways, patterns and behaviors we must first acknowledge it’s possible they exists.  If we cannot even do the basics of acknowledging such things exists, those existing things just continue to perpetuate out of control. Oy!

As of this afternoon I have a meeting with the school to discuss these unacceptable and preposterous situations. I expect to receive a copy of their written policies and procedures for handling bullying, as well as inquire as to their written policies and procedures for aiding and assisting victims of bullying.  I use the word ‘inquire’ about victims’ protection, as I’d be surprised if they have anything as of yet.  I’m also asking for copies of any/all notes, reports, etc that have been documented this far on this child.  I’m also expecting the school to tell me how this child has been made to adhere to the teachings of Maria Montessori (some of the basic teachings of Maria Montessori are teaching accountability, responsibility and respectfulness).

I’m all about living in a peaceful world, and in order to do so I must first acknowledge that not all are peaceful and so must eradicate those that are not peaceful from my life and cherish those ones that are peaceful in my life.  In fairness, I believe this little girl is a victim as well, and I would like nothing more than to see her behavior change for her betterment as well as those around her.  High school bullies don’t become bullies in high school, they become bullies in elementary school. Why should we wait until high school to do something about it?  For haven’t we already witnessed enough of the affects of high school bullying via school shootings?  It is my desire to get this little girl and her parents whatever help they need to straighten out how their child is conducting herself for her own safety and well-being, as one day a bigger bully may just come along and hurt her badly.  In addition to that I’ll do whatever I have to do to protect and guide Amira physically, emotionally and spiritually. 

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