The other day I watched one my children have a melt down of sorts because a teammate threw his baseball hat over the fence at a practice. He plopped right down on the ground, with head in hands, frustrated as all get out and took a few minutes to feel sorry for himself. After I walked across the field and reached his location, he had a few unpleasantries to share with me about teammate's actions. I, in return, told him to buck up and then I reminded him how he often does silly things like that to his own sisters/friends and that although throwing hats over the fence is annoying and the not most enjoyable for the hat wearer, his teammate was only teasing him. (P.S. It wasn't just him....hats from all the teammates were thrown over the fence.)
Then I watched my still pouting child walk up to one of the coaches and tattle after I felt like we had already resolved the issue. And, that right there is what is wrong with our school wide anti-bullying program. The whole system turns our children into mush. Little blobs of mush that have no problem-solving skills. They are being taught they can't solve their own problems or disputes because the anti-bullying program's number one rule is "to seek out and tell an adult".
Now before you go thinking I'm off my rocker. I wholeheartedly believe actual, real-life, bullying is downright awful. Kids and adults who bully need correction. Totally. We, of course, need to take action in and outside of schools when kids are truly being bullied. No question. But the problem I see with our school program is it's hard and fast rules. No happy mediums. Everything taken to the extreme. And, frankly, I believe it's a little ridiculous. We are turning average children into "bullies" by labeling their not-so-terrible behavior as such. They go off feeling awful about themselves while honest-to-goodness, actual bullies are too smart to get caught mostly because they are sneaky a**holes.
Which leads me to my second example of why this system is so flawed. A few weeks back, my middle child, got into a wee bit of trouble. She's always been an action-taker rather than a verbal-user when it comes to problem solving. Sometimes, I admit, she doesn't always use the best actions to solve her problems, but she solves her problems and that I have to commend her for.
Here's the shake down: While at recess, a classmate snuck up and "spanked" Miss Divine which did two things. It upset her instantly and put her into problem solving mode. (Remember when I said her actions aren't always the best when solving her problems?) Well, my daughter spun around and pushed the classmate which in turn surprised the classmate and knocked her off her feet and onto her rear end. Both girls cried and were upset at the other's actions. My child got sent to the Principal's office and lost a day's worth of recesses. Emails were sent between adults. I let all the chatter about situation and the consequences take place before I chimed in. Keep in mind I adore Miss Divine's teacher. I think she is great and I realize she is only following protocol.
I understand my child needs to rethink her actions and try solving situations verbally and how I also understand the consequence, however, over the top it really was. A trip to see the principal and losing recesses because she solved her own problem wasn't really necessary in my book but whatever. I wrapped my email response up with one final sentence that said: "the good news, [classmate] will never spank [my kid] again".
And, ain't that the truth! My kiddo did two things by swiftly turning around and knocking her classmate on her butt. She made it known that she never, ever wants to be spanked again and she gained the respect of her classmate...and, most likely the respect of all that witnessed the brouhaha. Truth be told, I am completely okay with that. I'm most sorry that my child (who is in no way a bully) got caught up in a situation that might have been blown out of proportion. In my day, a stern "Don't do that!" and "Say your sorry." would have sufficed.
What is this anti-bullying program doing for my children? It's teaching one child, no matter how frustrated and upset he gets, he is never to try and solve his own issues. Instead he needs to find the nearest adult and tattle. And, we all know, that doesn't ever help a real bullying situation. It only makes the situations worse and causes real bullies to bully harder and with more stealth. And, it teaches my other child, that even though she quickly resolved a problem for herself, she is a bad kid that will be labeled as such if she ever tries to resolve her own problems again.
And, in case you are wondering....I didn't get a response from my email....the girls are great friends now....and, hats are still getting knocked off heads. Case and point.