School should be a safe place for all children, but unfortunately with the rampant occurrence of bullying, that is often not the case.
Bullying has been in existence down through the ages; parents and educators have struggled with finding ways to curb the tendency of some children to interact with overbearing and aggressive behavior. The age old, standard advice has been to “Just ignore the bully and he will stop.”
Experts in human behavior refute the wisdom of such avoidance tactics and rationalization. The proof of the error of such misguided thinking is the prevalence of bullying in the adult workplace. Children whose bullying tendencies are not curbed grow up to become adult bullies, wreaking havoc in an effort to have their way.
Children are entrusted to the care of their teachers while they are in school. It is the job of the teacher to see to it that all children under his/her supervision are in a safe environment conducive to learning and healthy intellectual and emotional development.
Problems caused by teachers ignoring bullying:
* Implied approval
When the teacher looks the other way and acts as if bullying is not happening, the behavior might exacerbate under the umbrella of implied approval. Sometimes teachers are reluctant to “rock the boat,” when an especially popular student, such as the school sports hero, who is an obvious leader among his peers bullies others. When the victim of the bully complains, his angst might be discounted with a casual remark such as, “Oh just ignore him, he’ll get bored and stop.” Such a lackadaisical response on the part of the person in authority is a disservice to both the victim and the bully.
* Effect on the victim
Victims of bullying who do not get the support of their teachers and school counselors in stopping the negative aggressiveness might feel helpless, alone and despondent. They might feel that they are less worthy, having little value compared to their more aggressive counterpart. Children have a difficult time to begin with in bringing negative treatment to the attention of their teachers, for fear of retaliation and because they don’t want to be viewed as a “tattletale.” If a tormented child does gather the courage to seek help, if he is ignored or discounted he might give up, resigned to being treated badly, until one day he reaches a breaking point and harms himself as a way out of what he views as an impossible situation.
* Exacerbating the behavior
School officials who ignore bullying are providing a breeding ground for the negative behavior to exacerbate. They are as guilty of wrongdoing as the bystanders on the playground who chant, “Fight, fight,” during a physical altercation. Teachers who do nothing are as guilty of child abuse or neglect as the bully himself.
Most schools today have a ” No Tolerance” policy in effect, with one of their targets being to prevent bullying. Having a policy on file and enforcing it are two different matters.
To ensure each child entrusted in their care thrives in the school environment, teachers need to have to raise awareness of what bullying exists within their school, be alert and watchful, listening to and acting upon student complaints.
All children have a right to be educated in a safe environment, under the guidance of supportive teachers, in order that their self-esteem and trust are not compromised as a result of bullying.