Thursday, June 21, 2012

Bus bullying rant

Whining and moaning is nothing new for this blog, but I'm about to go on a rant about something that has nothing to do with running or chocolate. 

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.



  1. I saw this on the news this morning. So awful! Though, what exactly does an anti-bullying task force do?

    P.S. I'm slightly disturbed that you think Matt Lauer is eye candy.

  2. I came across the video on twitter last night and it brought me to tears. Have you seen the whole video? It's disgusting and according to my daughter she sees this kind of stuff all the time in middle school (more kids against kids) but still just as appalling.

  3. Matt much older, yet still so attractive. What's with that?

    I saw the news story this morning but haven't had a chance to watch all 10min of the video. Kids are AWFUL...or at least, they can be awful! The story is tragic and I feel so bad for this nice lady.

    What gets me is (correct me if I'm wrong...I didn't watch all of the video) is that no one tells these kids that they are wrong. She's the bus monitor. It's her job to monitor the kids, yet she just takes it! It sounds like you did the same thing - just took it from these kids. I used to work with kids and when they did stuff like that, they got kicked off the bus, kicked out of activities, and punished immediately for their inappropriateness. Why do adults take it from kids?

    I've worked with criminal defendants and when they get rude and inappropriate (which some do because they are thugs), lawyers walk away. I certainly would NEVER accept such behavior from another adult...why a kid?

    1. I wish we could walk away, but we risk losing our jobs doing that and even if we respond sometimes. I would guess that was this woman's fear. That's the problem - we don't have options for dealing with it as people in other professions do.

  4. I only briefly saw a new previous of the video, but I too work with children. I am a social worker/counselor working with kids in residential care who are in the foster care system. The kids I work with typically have severe behavioral issues stemming from abuse, neglect and lack of appropriate parenting/care taking skills during their earlier childhood years.

    I definitely think that any bullying needs to be immediately addressed, regardless if the target is an adult or student. When I was in 9th or 10th grade, I called one of my teachers a name behind her back, which was overheard and not only did I serve detention in school, have a discussion with the principal, I also got yelled at and punished at home as well. It was the only time I was mean to an adult and I learned my lesson. I didn't even really mean it, I was trying to get someone else in my class to laugh. But that's the point. It doesn't matter if I meant it. Now in my professional role, I have a much better understanding of the hurt that comes with someone being cruel.

    I work with some of the most challenging kids in my state, and I realize there is a difference between their acting out toward me and what went on in that video, but it hurts all the same. There are days that I have to leave my unit or just go home for the day when a particular youth is directing her anger toward me and I just can't handle it any more that day.

    I love the new commercials about cyber bullying on TV, but there needs to be a much bigger response from all sides - schools and any other formal activities as well as from parents when they witness it or have a child who has been bullying someone. I see a lot of disrespectful kids out there today, but all too often it seems that their behavior is ignored at all levels.

    Thanks for posting this and increasing awareness and dialogue about bullying.

  5. It's just sad to think about things like this happening. I went to a small private school K-12 and it happened from time to time amongst kids and between students and teachers. Usually once someone stood up for themselves and told someone in charge it was over. Personally I think students were terrified of being paddled at school-I know I was!

  6. Found this on Reddit. At least there is good in the world!

  7. First, I agree that Matt Lauer is attractive. I would be very happy if my husband ages that well.
    Second, the video is HIGHLY disturbing, and it is human nature to be upset by it.
    Finally, I am a university instructor, and believe it or not this kind of stuff happens at the college level as well! Bullying is actually a power dynamic, where a more a person in a position of "power" bullies an individual who they perceive as weaker or "inferior". So from that perspective, it is difficult to argue for students bullying teachers. That said, there should definitely be disciplinary action taken towards students who fail to show respect towards their teachers, or harass/bully teachers. Didn't our teachers always tell us that school is NOT a democracy? You go to school to learn and listen to your teachers - the educators are the superiors. I'm just glad these kids are being investigated by the police, hopefully it teaches them a lesson.

  8. Ew, Matt Lauer?

    I remember everyone mocking our lunch room lady in elementary school. I was one of those asshole kids that you hate, but I'm pretty sure I never doled out death threats. I did write "Mrs. Santiago is a geek" every day in my 1st grade journal. That bitch was asking for it though.

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  10. That video is awful! I tend to agree on the all-encompassing bullying deal. Having been in out of schools also, I swear that the level of meanness is ridiculous now when compared with what I remember 20 years ago. Something needs to be done and kids like that need to learn that it isn't acceptable in life, an that they'll probably get their asses kicked at a bar when they're 21 if they behave like that :)

  11. Matt Lauer = eye candy?! really??

    i haven't seen the video yet but, based on your description, i won't watch it. it will make me way too upset.

  12. I watched the first 2 minutes or so then closed it, I couldn't watch another 8 minutes of that! NJ instituted this huge Harassment, Intimidation, and Bullying Policy this past year in schools (following the suicide of Rutgers student Tyler Clementi) with task forces! and investigation committees! and new laws about how soon after an incident it must be reported - but while bullying "will not be tolerated" by anyone, it really is targeted at the bullying of students, I'm not sure it includes adults.


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