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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

School of bullies

Sometimes students misbehave -- not because their needs haven't been met or their teachers aren't sufficiently sensitive to their culture or because of systemic inequities, but because of human nature, writes Daniel Buck on First Things. If adults have no authority, he writes, the strong will prey on the weak.


One day, two girls known for insulting and threatening teachers and inciting arguments with other students were taunting a new classmate. He sent them to the office. After five minutes, they were back. "No punishment, no detention, not even much of a time-out." The new girl left school and never returned.


Another day, one of the girls kicked a boy, a frequent target of bullying, between the legs. He sent her to the office. The dean of students returned with her a few minutes later to ask him to take her back in class. She'd admitted kicking the boy, but claimed he'd insulted her. There were no consequences for a physical attack. The victim left for another school.


Before the pandemic, the ­Illinois legislature limited out-of-school suspensions and called for teachers to be trained in “the adverse ­consequences of school exclusion” and “justice-system involvement,” writes Buck.


"Student behavior and school culture and climate deteriorated" after the law changed, concluded a survey of Illinois teachers. Pollsters said it was because teachers lacked sufficient training in alternatives to punitive discipline.


Education officials believe that "bad behavior is always the communication of an unmet need or a flaw in the system," writes Buck. "The ideal school is so full of meaningful activity and communitarian vibes that no child will feel the urge to misbehave. In the rare instances in which a child might act out, the proper response is a conversation with a counselor: What caused this, and how can we fix the system so that it doesn’t happen again? Maybe a snack will help, but certainly not a detention."


An angry seventh-grade girl tried to assault a classmate, writes Ronak Shah, a science teacher in Indianapolis, on Chalkbeat. He thinks less testing and more engaging curriculum would help. "Talia is one of my brightest students," he writes, "but like many young people, she couldn’t see herself in the learning, and the seed of frustration grew into something worse."

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5 Kommentare


Richard Rider
Richard Rider
27. Mai 2023

The photo is, of course, staged. If a white kid bullied a person of color in public like that, there would be hell to pay. LITERALLY pay. Not so much when a black kid bullies a white or Asian kid.

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Gast
19. Mai 2023

Well, by this time you all know what I think so I won't say it again here. How do we go about tearing it all down and building it back up again?

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Bruce Smith
Bruce Smith
20. Mai 2023
Antwort an

We need to decentralize state schools away from the legislatures to regional municipalities, which compete to attract families, in part, by supporting schools that are competitive in serving the needs of those 20-30 other pupils in those seventh (or whatever) grade science (or whatever subject) classes, who should be learning science, but instead are learning that their present school lacks discipline, and start adjusting their own behaviour in a variety of ways.

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obiwandreas
19. Mai 2023

Each of these classes will have 20-30 other students whose education and safety are threatened. This seems ripe for a class action lawsuit by the parents of those students against the parents of the bullies, and against the school district for failing to provide a safe environment.


This will require a law firm to step up and do the work pro bono, however. Those parents with the resources to do this sort of thing themselves simply vote with their feet.

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Richard Rider
Richard Rider
27. Mai 2023
Antwort an

Actually, with a good enough case, a lawyer can be found to file the lawsuit on a contingency basis. "Pro bono" -- truly free legal help -- is different than taking a case on a contingency basis. Pro bono is really a lawyer donating their time and expertise to a person or cause, with no expectation of payment, regardless of outcome. Although pro bono services can be offered in any area of law, contingency fee agreements are not permitted for criminal or family law matters and are generally only found in personal injury law. Pro Bono vs. Contingency with Steven Wilder - Diamond and Diamond Lawyers

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