Schoolyard bullies are an institution. Most of us have either behaved as schoolyard bullies or have been witnesses and victims. But these days, the situation can turn deadly. From the overweight child who kills a tormentor, to a tormented child who commits suicide, to a child who commits assault as part of gang or clique activity, bullying these days is a far more extensive and serious matter than it was when communities were more cohesive and all adults were more aware of the activities of the neighborhood children.
Of course, we did not spill the beans to our parents when our lunches were stolen; we were called names, or other forms of harassment occurred. We were helpless when school authorities conveniently managed to be somewhere else. But when children do what children do these days, crimes as serious as simulated or real rapes, drug dealing, extortion, murder, and relentless harassment are also being concealed from parents, caregivers, and authorities.
Worse, developing sociopaths become more adept at manipulating ineffective and overwhelmed parents as well as school authority.There are escalating levels of maladaptive behavior. For example, drug dealing in schools is reaching epidemic levels. Gambling for money is a rising issue. “Fight Clubs” on and off campus are involving vicious, violent fighting bouts as depicted in the film. Arson and serious vandalism are on the rise.
The escalating violence reaches all socioeconomic levels. The real world versions of the “Heathers,” or well-to do and self-defined popular girls enforce their hierarchies with shocking aggression and violence, including some well documented kidnappings and group attacks. Girl gangs have been well established for a time, and their activities include serious hazing, or orders to engage in criminal activity as a rite of passage into the gang.
As a result, there has to be zero tolerance of school bullying. Schools need to go beyond “three strikes,” which is a weak way of handling escalating violence and harassment associated with today’s bullying. Schools need to treat violent or serious incidents under a “one strike” policy. If a student can be expelled for having a dose of over the counter Tylenol, then a bully can be expelled for one physical assault.
These are not the times for affording someone’s little darlings multiple chances to work their bullying out on their own.
It is amazing that school authorities are traditionally notorious for turning a blind eye to bullying. There have to be civil and criminal sanctions for contributing to escalating behavior. School authorities caught watching, but doing nothing about such behavior should also be on a “one strike” plan. They should lose their licenses and jobs just as any other profession loses licenses and jobs for looking the other way when they are fully aware that repeated, serious crimes or violations of ethics, rules and laws are occurring. Teachers who are fired and sanctioned for aiding, abetting and allowing bullying can sort it out in court if they can prove that they were compelled to do so for some reason.