Friday, March 18, 2011

Zero Tolerance For Violence

When you have a rule which you expect to be abided by you must have consistency.  There is no point allowing rules to be punished in degrees or even ignored.  It must apply to all and it must be consistent.

This week a clip went viral on youtube.  I will not link to this clip.  I have not even watched it.  And I will never watch it.  I will not give it another number to add to it's count.

A child films another child repeatedly punching a child who also happens to be twice his size.  The child punching apparently has been a source of constant torment to the child on the receiving end.  Apparently, it has been this way for over a year.  Now this information is either from print or online media so take it all with a grain of salt.

What does happen, from what I have read, is that after three or four assaults the child on the receiving end picks up the attacking child lifts him above his head and then throws him to the ground.  Pretty confronting really from start to finish.

Now these children I believe are in about Grade 10.  Their names are being bandied about on many sites.  I will just refer to them as R (the attacker) and C (the respondent).

The furore is that R received a lengthy suspension, C received a smaller suspension but is also facing assault charges.

My main problem with this is all about action and reaction.  C did nothing until R acted against him.  C is only guilty for reaction.  Reaction not after one, two or even three actions but relentless actions. Yes, he had a choice; fight or flight.  But after so much torment he fought.  This still remains only a reaction.  A reaction from the action of a tormenting bully who should pay the price and be the one charged with assault.  I agree with a minor suspension against C only because we need to be consistent with zero tolerance on violence but no way in the world should he be charged with any form of assault.

I have read both online forums, newspaper print , facebook groups etc.  What totally disgusts me is that 99% of people feel that C was right in defending himself and that R should have copped more. Firstly, what I want to know is where was the adult supervision and why was this allowed to escalate to such a vicious brutal attack. One facebook group which has been started to support C and basically oppose his assault charge sees only more bullying happening because people have different views and cannot reasonably respect other people's right to have an opinion. I had my say pretty much along the lines of what I have written in the above paragraph and was vilified and abused (we are talking pretty nasty swear words too).  Ok I said.  You have your point I have mine.  But, the point of this group is to support C.

Not enough is done to educate and prevent bullying.  It continues to be a problem that gets more and more out of hand.  Kids are taking knives to school and kids are dying.  As a Mother, it terrifies me.  Today was anti-bullying day and it was recommended that you wear orange in support.  The teachers at my kid's school wore orange but the kids still were expected to wear their uniforms.  NO CONSISTENCY.  NO FOLLOW UP.  NO SUPPORT.

Come on schools.  Look at your anti-bullying rules.  Find out what is best practice and then be consistent.  As adults, we too should live by example.  If kids see bullying and mental or physical abuse in their homes.  What are they going to do in the playground.  Act it out.  This is not something that is going to go away.  But lets start with the generation in schools now.  Lets get it right.  Our kids are precious and we only get one chance with them.  They deserve respect and safety not just at school but also at home.

Today, our Federal School Education Minister Peter Garrett (ex Midnight Oil singer) released the National Safe Schools Framework and he quotes it is the only national anti-bullying resource of its kind in the world. I read through the website, the framework and resource manual which you can download as PDF files.  I could not find anywhere that said this was to be compulsively used nationally.  In fact if you go here it will take you to the links of each State and Territories different anti-bullying policies.  These I did not read - there are eight of them for crying out loud.

So, it seems lip service is once again being paid to a very important issue. Bullying will not, I believe, be resolved until we have a Federal School Education Minister who has the balls to say this is what works, this is how you are going to use it, this is how you are going to monitor it and this is how you will determine punishment.

As parents, we have faith that the systems in place at schools will protect our children and we are seeing time and time again that they are failing.  Come on, lets do better.  As parents, lets demand change, each and every one of us needs to become familiar with our school's anti-bullying policy and then ensure the policy is used.

It is great we have an anti-bullying day but it is time we had an anti-bullying way.

For now, let us remember we are role models, our children mimic us.  So be kind, be tolerant and be considerate.
Take care,


  1. I hope the lack of comments doesn't mean no one reads this....

    The irony of "no tolerance" for violence is that the phrase no tolerance is steeped in violence. How will anyone enforce no tolerance? Well, with violence, of course. Punishment.

    I wrote a 5,000 word mini thesis about bullying but I don't know what to do with it...but your last bit about children mimicking adults sums up what I wrote very well. Bullying is a complicated issue, but people try to make it simple. Blame the bully syndrome.... I'm glad you're putting the responsibility on schools, some of it anyway. The rest should go on parents who abuse, neglect, and spoil their children.

    Kids need love, and a lot of compassion. They need to be allowed to experess their creativty. In the right envrionment children rarely bully each other. Of course, children rarely get the right environment.

  2. Justin you are so correct. It has to start somewhere. Sadly some kids are raised in a home where a bully resides and then it just perpetuates itself. It is something that we all need to be responsible for. I also agree about enforcing the zero tolerance. Surely there must be an answer. There must be away for schools to say this is not acceptable behaviour without feeding the cycle.
    Thanks so much for your feedback