Some Principals Seem to Be Ignorant About Bullying

Pricipals are concerned that parents use the “bully” label too quickly, without properly understanding what a “bully” is.  They believe that parents often get “bratty” behaviours mixed up with bullying ones.

BRATTY students are being unfairly branded bullies by parents and teachers who do not know the meaning of the word, according to a Victorian educator.

Peter Hockey, head of Beaconhills College junior school, said the word “bully” was overused and victims of schoolyard nastiness should harden up.

“Rather than just say, ‘Well that person is a bully and that person is a victim’, we need to empower children to stand up and confront these people who are being nasty,” Mr Hockey said.

“I don’t like to say ‘toughen up’, but they need to be taught to argue back or stand up for what they believe is right, explain themselves more fully or use humour or whatever other skills they have.”

Sure, resilience is a valuable skill and one worth advocating, but Mr. Hockey’s approach sounds defeatist to me.  Harassed students shouldn’t need to stand up for themselves, they should have support from teachers and school administrators (including Principals).  Students will naturally “toughen up” when they have the support of others.  When they’re left on their own, they often fail to properly assert themselves.

 

The veteran educator said the correct definition of a bully was “a person who is habitually cruel to others who are weaker”.

Mr Hockey said he had only encountered a handful of bullies in his 36 years of teaching.

“I have taught many children who have been nasty to others, but these children are not bullies,” Mr Hockey said.

“They are very often simply being nasty because they have been hurt by a situation, or they are being selfish or are responding to an earlier problem.”

He said most “nasty” children could be taught to be nice, while bullies were born bad.

That’s just nonsense Mr. Hockey.  “Born bad”?  Bullies don’t need to be born bad, they just need to harass, torment or seek to undermine others.

 

“To label a child a bully who has made the mistake of being nasty is wrong,” Mr Hockey said.

“Nasty and naughty behaviour is fixable and we must educate all not to engage in this sort of behaviour.”

Are you saying that “bullies” are not “fixable”?

 

At the end of the day, these labels are irrelevant.  What really matters is that those students who are negatively affected by others are given the support they need and those that recklessly hurt others get the consequences they deserve.

 

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