Who Should Address Bullying: Mom & Dad or the School?
The subject of bullying at school is one that fires up many parents. How to handle it is not generally agreed upon. It is clear that if we turn over responsibility for addressing it solely to the schools we will get whatever they decide is an appropriate response to bullying. That response will, in turn, be affected by whatever reporting requirements either DESE or the legislature have decided are necessary. Those requirements have become the foundation upon which the individual district policies have been based, policies which seek to report lower incidents of bullying. Unfortunately, that has often meant policies which hid , turn a blind eye toward, or intimidate children into not reporting bullying at all.
David Linton believes that the problem is based in that initial step of turning over control to the schools. He wrote this response to HB458 (R – Allen’s) anti-bullying bill which will be heard in the House Committee on Elementary and Secondary Education tonight. It is posted here with the author’s permission.
HB458: Bye Bye Mom And Dad
By David Linton The Blackstone Initiative
On Monday, February 2, HB 458 will be heard before the Missouri House Committee on Elementary and Secondary Education upon evening adjournment. According to the NO MO Common Core, Representative Sue Allen’s bill would,
prohibit schools from retaliating against the victims or whistle blowers of bullying, requires them to report all accusations of bullying, not just ones they have personally witnessed, and requires them to provide counseling for the victims of bullying to overcome the effects of being bullied and be able to defend themselves from future episodes.
This very simple description, while accurate regarding the scope of the new requirements, fails to give a true picture of just how litigious this new process will be. There will certainly be due process considerations involved. With anonymous allegations and rumors of bullying being respected, claims and counterclaims will certainly abound. The whole process will indoctrinate our children into the litigious culture of 2015.
Let’s get one thing straight and make all the necessary disclaimers. Bullying is bad. We have been given a free society by our Founding Fathers, and no one should be subjected to bullying. Bullies should be punished. The proper question is how.
There is a flaw in the whole debate. The flaw is that discipline is the job of parents and not the school. This debate assumes that discipline is the role of the school. Before we can engage the question properly we must take step back and realize that the problem is a result of the false assumption that the school is the disciplinarian in our culture. How did we get to this point?
I find increasingly that my go to guy on issues such as this is John Adams. Adams said,
We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry, would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.
These words were in Adams’ Address to the Military, on October 11, 1798.
Why are we turning out so many bullies? Adams understood as he was educated in a classical model at home, that a student takes on the characteristics of his teacher. Education is the transmission of culture from one generation to the next. Culture is a product of the education system, and children reflect the culture of the prior generation of educated people. Each generation becomes what the prior generation forms in them through the education process. We all stand on the shoulders of our educators. Adams wrote to his wife Abigail,
I must study politics and war that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy. My sons ought to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history and naval architecture, navigation, commerce and agriculture, in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry, and porcelain.
He understood the principles laid down by the Lord Jesus Christ, when He said, “A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher.”
We have a “secular” education system. We take great pride that we have a separation of church and state in our school systems across this nation. But this is the very thing Adams warned against. We are a culture devoid of morality and religion. All we have left is education to success in business, and so we have avarice, ambition, and revenge. Our schools must teach it, and our children are learning it. They have been learning it for generations and are improving on it with each one.
Yes, there will be bullies. But the solution is not to enshrine a litigious process in our schools. Such a solution produces additional avarice, ambition, and revenge. We have a culture that is falling apart from the family out. But that is because we have trained our parents in the model of the secular school system. If our secular school system has created the problem, how can we ever expect that that school system will solve the problem, especially when the solution is founded upon the same principles that created the problem?
The model for the solution that works best is a model based on love. And that model is best fulfilled in the family. We must first recognize that children belong to their parents. The parents are responsible for the conduct of their children. There was a time when parents guarded their children. Parents handled the bullying situations. Call me naive, but this is the model to which we must return. There was a practice in the olden days when I was growing up. It was called the “note to the parents.” A note to the parents was a dreaded thing. It meant, “Boy are you going to get it when you get home.” Parental training is more effective than litigation.
If the student fails to change his behavior, the parents must be brought to account. This is a harsh solution. It is harsh only because we have ignored it for so many years. But it is the right solution and the only solution that will work. It is a harsh solution but not as harsh as making our children subject to the discipline of an unloving and litigious state. Our kids should not be made to say bye, bye to Mom and Dad and hello to their school appointed attorney.