In education, the recognition of and counter action against bullying has taken on a priority role right along CCSS and STEM. We hear the horrible stories of peer to peer bullying regarding all the realms of personal identity, gender, gender identity, sexual identification, race, economic status and so on. Initiatives are being created all the time to usurp this imbalance of power. Because, in truth, it’s all about power. This being said, I think a discussion that is not often being explored is the predicament of students bullied by teachers, administrators, educators.
Adulthood brings with it a tremendous amount of power, whether we recognize it or not, particularly when we set this against the unsurety and insecurity that can plague youths in their most emotionally vulnerable years. Students often don’t feel that they have a resource to discuss adult to child bullying or, oft times, assume that they will not be believed or taken
seriously. If we then add the element of fragile social, economic and/or familial situations, we have a recipe for disaster.
Now, I truly believe that this is not the intention of most educators. I believe that teachers, administrators and other education professionals enter the field because of a genuine care for the physical, emotional and psychological health of our young people. I also believe that when bullying behaviors occur they are generally a result of frustration, a sense of helplessness, exhaustion, lack of introspection, insufficient training or “tools in the tool box.”
Because of the purposeful focus we’ve been placing, nationwide, on the repercussions of bullying, our “holders” of safe spaces have the difficult and sometimes onerous task of working our own emotional health not only for ourselves but as a form of service to the children whom we protect. This is my process as much as anyone’s and seeing it outside of myself is so much easier. But the hope is that encountering these moments catalyzes some reflection and change.
I’ve attached a video from a recent incident that I thought was tremendously poignant because it demonstrates how, in an era where certain political and social issues are in the fore, bullying has a ripple effect that expands to engross families, communities and the society at large.