Sunday, April 22, 2012

Pushing Back Against Bullying

If schools really want to curb bullying, they need to end the identity politics and multi-ethnic attempts to define individuals as members of a group. We must learn to discern who we are not based on what other people say about us. We need to lean on the traditions of our elders. The legacies of culture, custom, and community do more to establish the character of our youth than all the secular rights and respectabilities which we are trying to create out of thin air based on multiracial self-esteem.
The culture of teenage angst that has defined the experience and expertise of our schools has robbed our youth of stability – they have been allowed to define their own experience, which has undermined the core virtues of one’s life and livelihood. The cult of individualism has engendered school communities full of conformity and cliques, neither of which prepares individuals to live independent, respectable lives. The cult of equality that panders to the group consensus without upholding stable values is also harming our youth, and because they have no values beyond their own peer groups to rely upon, they now find themselves easily intimidated by their peers, to the degree that they seek acceptance in others and will go along with bullying others, or at least insist on remaining unhappy, reluctant bystanders.

Parents and school officials must renounce their subtle allegiance to equality and collective identity. Yet the liberal mindset pervasive among our school staff has only hardened the conformity of cowardice, in which individual teachers are more afraid of being labeled racist or intolerant for not respecting the choices and values of other groups. In many cases, teachers themselves are succumbing to bullying students, as administrators will not challenge abusive students and their complaisant parents, many of whom threaten to sue at the whiff of pretended discrimination from the school site.

The grievance industry and amalgamated tolerance, which protects abusers instead of victims, has prolonged a problem which rallies, documentaries, and posters cannot solve.
We have taught our youth to value the opinion of others in order to evaluate the will and the worth of what they do and say and think in their lives. Are we not surprised, then, to witness that youth are now easily intimidated by bystanders who cannot stand up for themselves? We need to teach students to stand for something more than themselves, then they can stand  up to anything. These anti-bullying measures only increase the power of the state at the expense of the individual – Big Government is the biggest bully.

The problem of bullying reminds me of the abortive policy instituted a few years ago at Hermosa Valley School in Hermosa Beach. Because of  one tiny clique of bullying girls, the school staff grew alarmed about the atmosphere of disrespect growing worse on campus. When site administration tried to deal with the problem, these girls had bullying parents who harassed administration into forcing the entire school to endure bullying training, instead of disciplining the clique of students who were taunting and abusing others. The role of abusive parents who stymie growth and consequences on our campuses cannot be ignore in dealing with the bullying problem.

All over Hermosa Valley School,  signs painted into the door posts which read "No Bully Zone". Students even wrote raps against bullying, but what did any of it accomplish? Groupthink in convocation has very little effect, and no merit, when political pressures top down overwhelm  the best of intentions.

What is the world coming to? A dedicated minority of political and moneyed interests has taken over our schools. If not wealthy parents, then lawyers and minority activists pressure schools to accomodate intolerant and intolerable students, at the risk of a lawsuit.

Schools can put an end to bullying when schools permit parents more authority to protect their children, demand proper recourse from abusive students and their parents, and teaching young people proper skills for mediating disputes or challenging abusive conduct from others. However, collective responses to bullying, which focus on limiting speech and instituting more regulation, will only create a more hostile climate on our campuses where legal action, government intervention, and growing administrative oversight have crippled our schools, handicapped or teachers, and undermined the safety and security of our youth in their classrooms.

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