An incident happened yesterday in my home town, at one of the local middle schools. A video was posted showing a group of students harassing an elderly bus monitor, saying horrible things to her, even making her cry. It was first posted by an awesome blogger, and soon it was all over my Facebook feed, but I thought it was local news.
I was debating whether or not to write this post, since I usually like to keep things light and sarcastic. I still hadn't decided when I turned on the Today Show, like I do every morning. As soon as the TV came on, there was the bus monitor's picture! Apparently it had gone beyond local outrage. I took that as a sign to go for it.
I was really bothered by this, and couldn't get my mind off it all day. I just felt so bad for the woman, and couldn't seem to shake the image. Unfortunately, we see horrific things on the news every day, so why did this affect me so much?
Ok, it's not rocket science, obviously it hit home because I work with kids just like this woman. Because I see things like this happen all the time, and it takes something extreme like Matt Lauer getting involved for anything to be done about it.
|We can still enjoy some eye candy in this post.|
Last fall, I called my mom for the umpteenth time to tell her about how upset I was about something a student had said to me, or in that case, an extremely inappropriate drawing of me. She said "I thought your school had an anti - bullying policy". That really stopped me in my tracks, because, of course we do, but what did that have to do with this? Obviously, I'm against bullying, and don't allow it in my classroom. But students bullying adults? I'd never even considered this. That wasn't even a "thing".
After my mom said that, it started to bother me that it wasn't a thing. Why should teachers or staff have to go to work and endure insults about their appearance, weight, family, or even death threats (those often come complete with graphic drawings too!). Sure, I pretend it doesn't bother me at work, because I have to, but it does.
I care about my students, so these types of things hurt my feelings, and really upset me. Maybe I'm just too sensitive. But....isn't that part of the reason I choose to work with children in the first place? I haven't met too many unemotional, stoic teachers. There's nothing wrong with these qualities, but they won't serve you well in my profession. Wouldn't you want your child to have a sensitive, emotional, compassionate teacher? I think most people would, but it's a two way street. I'll get fired up if your child is being teased and do everything I can to stop it, but I'll also go home and cry when I have terrible things said to me.
So, in my opinion, the anti bullying rules need to be all encompassing. If we don't allow it to occur between children, it shouldn't be allowed to occur between children and adults, in any capacity, child to adult, or adult to child. The woman in the video said in her interview with Matt that this wasn't the first time harassment from students had occurred, and I got the impression that it wasn't even the 100th time.
These students will most likely face consequences due to the incident getting national attention, but this is going on in schools and on buses everywhere, every day. I'm guessing that if it doesn't make YouTube, 99% of the time it's swept under the carpet. If our job is to teach students, we need to teach them that this type of behavior isn't acceptable. Not because you might be embarrassed on national television, but because it's not right to treat people that way.
That being said, I will endure any sort of verbal abuse necessary to get me interviewed by Matt Lauer.