School’s Bullying Blunder Leads to Anger and Embarrassment
A Lincoln, Nebraska elementary school sent fifth grade parents a bullying flier with questionable advice. Among the list of rules posted at Parents.com, bullying victims are advised not to be sore losers and not to tell on bullies. After an angry backlash from parents, the school retracted the flier and labeled the blunder as a staffing error. The school principal remarked that the letter was sent with good intentions. I beg to differ. There is nothing good about bullying advice that recommends to victims that no one likes a sore loser.
Physical, verbal, indirect and cyber bullying are different forms of bullying that involve different behaviors. Although some victims are able to persevere, others become withdrawn and resort to violence. School officials should have considered a few important statistics before circulating the flier. (MakeBeatsNotBeatDowns.org)
Among students, homicide perpetrators were more than twice as likely as homicide victims to have been bullied by peers.
Bullying statistics say revenge is the strongest motivation for school shootings.
87% of students said shootings are motivated by a desire to “get back at those who have hurt them.”
86% of students said, “other kids picking on them, making fun of them or bullying them” causes teenagers to turn to lethal violence in the schools.
61% of students said students shoot others because they have been victims of physical abuse at home.
The Lincoln Journal Star newspaper provided the school’s response:
LPS Communications Director Mary Kay Roth said the flier was not approved to be sent home and was inadvertently included in fifth-graders’ Tuesday folders that went home to parents. Such folders typically contain student work and other information for parents.
“It’s a staff issue, so we’re taking care of the staffing error,” Roth said. “It wasn’t supposed to be sent home.”
She declined to elaborate on exactly how it happened, but said Zeman teachers will talk to all fifth-graders Thursday to clarify how the district believes students should handle bullying.
“Our educators at Zeman Elementary School work hard to provide accurate and appropriate lessons and education for our students in how to handle bullying situations,” Williams, the principal, said in the message to parents. “The flier was sent home with good intentions, unfortunately it contained advice that did not accurately reflect LPS best practices regarding response to bullying incidents.”
Student Services Director Russ Uhing said the district has ongoing lessons about bullying, and fifth-graders at Zeman had been talking about how to handle the situation if they become targets of a bully. That message, he said, was “very different” from the one that was sent home.
The information shared with students in class, Uhing said, included LPS’s philosophy: asking the bully to stop, then walking away; and if it continues, telling a parent or teacher.
Questionable System of Communication
It is baffling to think that school officials honestly believed their actions were of the best intentions. A school that prides itself on bullying education should not make errors that infringe on student well-being. The administration dropped the ball by not reviewing the flier before sending it home. Is it possible that the principal realized the error after the fact? Possibly. School principals have demanding schedules that may result in a failure to efficiently scrutinize every piece of information. Regardless of the reasons or excuses for such an insensitive action, I hope that no student that is a bullying victim takes this advice to heart.
Do you believe that school officials had good intentions?