Wednesday, November 16, 2005
One of my favorite columnists in Toronto wrote about the latest kerfluffel in the schools there. It seems that a girl was sexually and emotionally abused by a small gang in her school. Not unexampled...though certainly the events were extreme. However, just to stir the pot, the parents of all these little darlings are grasping at the race straw instead of pointing the finger of blame at their own bad parenting. Hey, its a gang..it just happened to be black, okay! And its a "small G" sort of gang...the kind that forms in every high school in the nation, not really a "gang", but rather a group of kids who all sort of hang together. (thats a gang....duuh). And this led me to wonder about the nature of groups, gangs, and high school clusters in general. Lots of good books on the subject.The big difficulty with these perps is that they had no idea where to draw the line. I suspect most of them are basically good kids, but they crossed several moral, ethical and legal lines in their behavior. This bahavior went on for what..a year and a half!
Great column...."follow my rules and you won't get expelled". Yup, that about sums it up!http://www.torontosun.com/News/Columnists/Blizzard_Christina/2005/11/16/1308676.html
As a boy going to school in the late '70s here in Ontario, I was heavily targeted by bullies. I went through years of soul searching, wondering why the teachers couldn't stop this nonsense. Like most boys, I skinned my knuckles a few times, got into a bit of trouble, got out of it, and eventually graduated. It was a traumatic time. However.........after I was grown up, I looked back on what was a pretty much miserable time, and tried to figure out how I could have done it better. Ms Blizzar's contention that even the teachers have an unclear idea of just what behaviour constitutes bullying resonated, and I believe now that my misery was largely self induced. That as a boy of 15, I knew nothing about real abuse, real injury, real death, and reacted to unimportant things as if they were important.I didn't think so at the time, but I was wrapped in cotton wool, and I had to make my own stressful environment. A very artificial environment. An environment where fighting, drugs, sex, rebellion and angst played a part, and the most important part was our over-reaction to what amounted to mild stimuli....a fight because somebody thought I wore the wrong colour socks for instance. This was pretty low level stress, but the reactions were all there! (reactions? yes, we had suicides, overdoses, pregnancies in our school...these are pretty severe reactions!) Its interesting looking back on it as an adult, and wondering "What was I thinking to fall for THAT!"
Most adults learn to cope with "jackasses" in high school. No point in expelling them all, or you won't have ANY students left! My school expelled the problem students, and their little "lieutenants" just stepped into their shoes! So there WILL be low level violence, (shoving in line, stealing pencils!) In fact, my dear old Ma always said that you didn't go to high school to learn Math, you went there to learn how to deal with the twits of the world! And maybe, just maybe, to learn how NOT be a twit yourself. If this was true though, how come it isn't on the curriculum? Something like "coping with angst 101"? Or, "the motorcycle, the road, the bridge abutment and you?" At least they taught us to drive! So you have to put up with the low level b.s., clamp down hard on the high level b.s. like riding motorcycles down the hallways of the school and gangstas. I know, radical idea, encouraging the low level "violence" (boys interaction with boys, duuuh!) in order to give them the tools to cope. But NO! They drop the boxing courses. They drop the wrestling courses. They drop the Judo courses. They drop the shop courses (we made a hot rod in MY shops class!) They make zero tolerance policies on pocket knives and name calling. Is this sensible? Its not like this is a new problem here dudes! Same students left high school where they terrorized the teachers, drove like maniacs, drank like fish, smoked up like Cheech and Chong, bonked like minks, and went into adult life. I went into the military with these guys, and discovered that all the stupid things I thought were important were, well, stupid. Can you imagine if any of them threatened a military instructor with a knife like what happened to a teacher friend of mine in Toronto last May! Oh My Dog! There is a difference though....the military treats people like adults, the school system treats people like high school students. Wrapping them in cotton wool.
(insert hit single "I'm an Adult Now!" here....play to fade...)