Three strikes policy not right for bullies

Admittedly, a “three strikes and you’re out” rule for bullies initially sounded appealing. Upon deeper thought and remembrance of being a recipient and witness of countless acts of bullying throughout elementary, secondary, and post-secondary education, there seemed to be more to the situation.

A “three strikes and you’re out” rule for a bully does not take into account the different types of bullying taking place in classrooms and on playgrounds. Bullying can range from name-calling to verbal threats to exclusion to physical violence. Are all of these things the same? 

By allowing a bully three chances before they receive ultimate punishment, they may feel that they have two chances to act out prior to receiving their actual punishment. It may start as name-calling but could escalate to physical violence resulting in the bullied person’s family moving prior to the bully being dealt with.

Three strikes also implies the bully has been caught on three specific occasions. Many times, bullied children and teens do not feel comfortable reaching out to authorities to report their mistreatment. Others may be intimidated after receiving verbal threats if they choose to tell on their bully.

If bullying is reported, what punishment will take place for each of the individual strikes prior to the third? If the punishment is only severe on the third and final strike, bullies may not feel the need to change their ways.

You may also look at it from the other side of the coin. What is causing the bully to tease or harm their peers? Are they coming from an abusive home? Are they coping with personal struggles with self-esteem? While it does not excuse their behavior toward others, it should be taken into account. Is there better options for coping with bullying in the event a bully does have a deeper issue to deal with?

Now, back to the original issue; banning a bully does not deal with the larger issues of bullying. What if Bully A is kicked out of School A and sent to School B, while at the same time Bully B is kicked out of School B and sent to School A? Bullies need to be dealt with, not shipped off and ignored. 

By investigating the root of a bully’s actions after the first incident takes place, rather than waiting for things to potentially escalate, bullying can be reduced as a whole.

Out of sight, out of mind is not the solution for bullies. Solutions should be found after the first incident and further action should be taken on a case-by-case basis as felt appropriate.