I recently heard on Fox News about a mother who is suing a high school for not doing anything about the bullying her daughter experiences on a daily basis. One of the commentators on Fox said that the mother shouldn't be suing her daughter's school because they are not responsible for the bullying that goes on in school. No policy how tough is going to stamp out bullying altogether. Although this is true, it is the school board's responsibility to ensure that their school is a safe learning environment for every student. It all starts with the principle. The principle is the head of the school and the decision he or she makes affects how the school is operated.
Educators have a responsibility to their students. When a child misbehaves in class or mistreats another child, it is every teacher's responsibility to intervene. Many schools across Canada and the United States have bully awareness days and/or programs in place to teach children and teens about the nasty affects bullying has on everyone. So, it is wrong to say that school boards shouldn't be held accountable for negative behavior when many schools are working hard to make their institution a bully free environment.
This situation made me think about a situation in Story Theatre this past summer. There were two women who had awful attitudes. One woman was much more upfront than the other woman. There is nothing wrong with having a healthy dose of confidence, but this individual took it to the extreme. She thought she had superb acting skills, so held the belief that she knew better than everyone else. And, she was not hesitant to let everyone know that--especially my friend who was the assistant director.
She argued with my friend every time she tried to give her directions, and in front of everybody. She also had to throw her two cents in every time the assistant director spoke. It got to the point where my friend had to speak over her in order to get her point across. This woman belittled my friend and made her feel insignificant every chance she could get. And no one confronted this woman, including myself I regret to say.
The director and producer didn't confront her because they were too afraid of starting a fight. Confrontation is negativity and they did not want that. Here's the thing they--we all--failed to realize. There is a stark difference between being negative and confronting negativity when it occurs. We all thought that if we were kind to her and ignored her bad behavior, she would give it up. We couldn't have been more wrong. Her attitude increasingly got worse until there was confrontation.
There is a very important lesson that we can all take away from this experience. When we see a person behaving badly, we confront that behavior right away. We should have said to this person at the start, "this behavior is unacceptable. If you want to be a part of Story Theatre, you have to learn how to listen and you can't be rude to the other people." If we would have done that at the start, she would have done one of two things: improved her behavior or left the group. That would have prevented a lot of confrontation.
Never again will I stand by, watch one person bully another person and do nothing about it.
So, whether you're a school principle, teacher, student, group leader or bystander, it is your responsibility to intervene when you see someone mistreating another person. Confronting Negativity is not the same as being negative.
Deanna Proach writes for discounts.ca, a website that deals with all kinds of discounts, including discounts on computers. She has also written a YA novel titled To be Maria.