Wednesday, November 7, 2012
Are children in Florida any safer from bullying because of policies?
5:30 am est
Are our children safer? Are they safe from bullying? Have states' policies made a difference?
I can speak for Florida's "bullying and harassment" model policy. My district uses it--pretty much verbatim--as
its policy (I link to it--with my comments--below this blog post). The policy is woefully lacking in any real preventative
measures. Plus it's really boring to sit through a "bullying and harassment" policy powerpoint. My district makes
us do that each year so it can "document" that we are trained.
I think that's true for New Jersey as
well. New Jersey's got the "toughest" policy in the nation, but Georgia, Montana and Ohio--you name the state--
have their policies also. States' bullying and harassment policies are focused on documenting events. They are focused on
making sure that in the event of a lawsuit, documents can be pulled out as proof of "doing something." School districts
then can say in sad and sonorous--but just a little outraged-- voices (I am picturing, for some reason, Jimmy Cagney in a
rumpled suit and tie hopping up from his desk with his chin tucked to his neck waving forms): "WE DID EVERYTHING WE COULD......see?!
It says so right here," Jimmys of any school district anywhere in the United States might say.
"It says--why, it's well documented!--that we interviewed the wimpy kid! We took his statement! SEE? We called
his parent! We interviewed witnesses! We took THEIR statements! SEE? We talked to the bully! We called his parent too! OUR
POLICY SAYS WE HAVE TO DO THAT?! See?! And then what?
Why, we DOCUMENTED EVERYTHING! See? Then we sent the brats
off into the wilds of our hallways and classrooms and cafeterias and locker rooms and told the bully to NEVER EVER DO THAT
AGAIN OR HE WOULD BE SORRY!"
At this point in my mind Jimmy either breaks out in song: "I'm a Yankee-Doodle
Dandy" or he mows us all down with his verbal machine gun because he doesn't like being questioned about ANYTHING! See?
He doesn't have to drive by a Chicago street corner either. He just has to stand up from behind his desk and bring
out "the gun." RAT-A-TAT-TAT! His words take us out. We will NEVER make the mistake of taking our concerns to him
He then documents everything..and gets back to the business of "making a difference" for children.
School districts around the nation are full of song singing and verbal machine gun toting leaders; "Jimmy Cagney"
leaders who sing any song requested of them by their bosses. They tap dance too! Sing in the rain!
there is no rain, really!" they might melodiously bellow, "It's just that irritating Werner holding a hose on the
side of the set.....What? She's not alone? She has hundreds of children and adults standing with her?
them. Keep singing...."
They are artists! Paint pastoral pictures of their schools! Nary a storm cloud to
be seen; why, gray and black paints are not even on their paint palettes!
Meanwhile they know little of nothing
about Instagram and its hash marks; Spillit and its online anonymity; Facebook and our children's addiction to it.
They also know little about the gray and black paints on children's paint palettes. Those children paint their ominous pictures.
They want us to see them. They bring them--internally--to school each day.
Like Amanda Todd. She painted her ominous
picture--literally in gray and in black--on YouTube. Her video, made a month before her suicide, is linked from here:
It's been five years since Florida's law required that school districts' have policies against bullying and harassment.
Our children are no safer because of the policies. They are, in fact, in greater danger than ever