I wonder--and maybe you do too--why in the world any organization, let alone a school district, would tolerate bad bosses.
I am talking about brutes, abusers, individuals who need psychological help. Why would a school district continue,
knowingly (even if they pretend to “not know“) to allow them to abuse people?
I witnessed an
administrator’s abuse of children, parents and employees. He screamed at people. He made fun of people. He lied.
He coerced. He turned one against the other. And other people knew, even if they didn't tell
. Even if they shrugged
their shoulders and said “I don’t recall,” they knew. Even if they stared wide eyed and without a word,
slowly shook their heads when asked if they had witnessed anything, they knew. They'd seen. They'd heard. They'd experienced.
They were just too scared to tell. They knew it wouldn’t help really and would probably be worse for them. They were
right. They worked in an environment that is more interested in protecting bosses and keeping the boat from rocking. You may
also be working in such an environment. According to The Workplace Bullying Institute, protecting "the
system" is common place.
We will never, ever keep children safe from bullying if adults in schools--administrators,
teachers, counselors, any adult--bully. I have written of the Olweus “magic” that transforms schools into places
of true character and caring. There are two parts and it really isn’t magic. It’s good sense and hard
work and commitment and compassion. It’s a school of confident adults coming together to protect children. It’s
a school led by a kind, civil, and compassionate leader.
The first piece of the Olweus magic is this: the
adults of a school will assure the emotional safety of children--all children. That means we will not hold children solely responsible
for their own emotional safety. I’ll write more on that later. Right now I want to take that “adult responsibility
for kids” piece and apply it to adults being bullied by administrators. To whom do they report incidences of being bullied?
Who keeps them safe? District leadership? Most adults who are being bullied in schools--and there are many (think Atlanta
Public Schools)--know, as most kids know in most schools that at best nothing will happen if they report the abuse.
So why not just suck it up? More likely they will be left at the bullier's mercy. For, in spite of district
policies, district leaders really don't know how to deal with bullying school leaders, even if they wanted to. The bullying
administrators may be told by their bosses not to do it anymore. They may be made to apologize. Olweus tells
us that these are not appropriate solutions to a bullying problem. They make it worse. And then, there the
victim remains--vulnerable to the revenge of the bullying leader. What then is the message to the adult bystanders? Don’t
get involved! Better do what he says! You might be next!
Yet if the first piece of the Olweus magic were in place
for adults--if adults felt their district's leadership knew what to effectively do when they reported being abused by
an administrator--another piece of the magic would happen. More and more bystanders would stand up. More would corroborate
the bullying. Momentum would build to establish a culture in schools where bullying by anyone is not tolerated.
Next-I promise! We’ll allow Mr. Bully Boss to introduce the Drs. Namies' "Constant Critic”.
He’s really mad at me right now.....and he can be very difficult when he is unhappy!
Talk to you next Sunday. Until then-