Students Aren’t the Only Victims of Bullying
One book defines bullying as: “repeated aggression perpetrated against a student by another student.” Another statement reads, “..teachers have also been identified as bullies.” While I am sure this is true, there is a new phenomenon in which teacher’s are the victims of students’ violent acts and belligerent behavior.
One other definition of bullying explains that it is “when someone willfully and repeatedly exercises power over another.” The assumption is that teachers, as the “authority” are to the more powerful one and would not ever be subject to bullying. This sounds good in theory, but the reality is something contrary. As a public school teacher, I see more and more aggressive students-aggressive towards students and teachers. I am not ashamed to admit that at times, I have personally felt the effects of a bully.
In one recent instance, I was pushed while trying to prevent a student from leaving my classroom to loiter in the hallway after the late bell sounded. “Move!” she had shouted at me, prior to the incident, while I stood in the doorway. If you find the behavior shocking, as I did, just visit any urban school where every form of bullying and violence is on the rise. The young lady was suspended, but soon returned, hostile and as aggressive as ever. I asked that she at least be moved to another class, but was told that the other Language teacher had her hands full with her own group of incorrigibles.
Other times, I have been threatened and in one instance by a student who had been repeatedly suspended for fighting. A few days afterwards, this same young man and at least one other student joined in to stomp another student half his size. The victim was so badly injured he needed surgery to repair his eye. Well after a 10 day suspension, actually before 10 days was up, this young man-and I use that loosely-was back on the premises to further terrorize us. The lack of formidable security enforcement and reinforcement leaves all of us vulnerable.
I, personally, have always worked fiercely to prevent bullying of any student in my reach. Early intervention is key. I believe it is, also, important to counteract any negative words of the bully in order to preserve the self-esteem of the victim. The bully must be made aware that his and yes, her words are refutable, disputable opinions and maybe not facts. They must know that their actions are actually cowardly, disruptive and will not be tolerated. Despite my own occasional feelings of trepidation at my surroundings, for the most part I am enraged and courageous in the face of student on student bullying. After all, we are their first line of defense. And I try daily to fight for them-though some daily fight against us. I try to kill any such abuse just as quickly as it begins. I’ve found that bullies will usually back down when vigorously confronted by a teacher and the situation will de-escalate.
Regrettably, bullying as a whole, has been allowed to escalate in our school. Several years ago, a student was beaten into unconsciousness by a group of students. Yes, it all begin with repeated verbal bullying. This trajedy started when the victim was asked, repeatedly, to give up his seat to the bully in a class they shared. Each day, the victim would arrive early and the bully late. On his arrival, the bully would force the victim to get up and sit in another seat. The brutal, nearly deadly beating occurred on the day the student finally refused to give up his seat to the bully. Later that day, outside the boys locker room the evil was perpetrated. Where was the teacher who could have possibly nipped this situation in the bud? Not using his better judgment out of his own intimidation, perhaps. I don’t dare suggest that today’s teachers are a cowardly breed. Maybe some of us are a little afraid and with just cause. It’s a tough environment. I know, personally, teacher’s who have been, not only threatened, but assaulted.
Anyway, to add insult and salt to this terrible assault afflicted that day a few years back, although the primary assailant was convicted and sentenced to years in a youth correctional facility, no other students were charged in the assault.
Bullying at any level and on any person is horrible. However, I believe this was bullying at its worst; when it has come into full fruition, that is. Bullying is at its worst, when like on that day, the whole school community is bullied by the bullying incident. Why didn’t the teacher intervene? Why were there no charges brought against the demented mob that joined in on the attack? What about the gawking bystanders? No consequences, only more anger, fear and intimidation remain. So, unfortunately, like my original assertion-it seems that students are not the only victims of bullying.