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Teachers discouraging bullying. Spin off from pink zebra shoe story


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#1 Becky Thatcher

Posted 13 December 2012 - 11:26 AM

When DD was in Year 7, one awkward boy in the class liked to tuck his polo shirt into his shorts. (govt school)
The teachers gave him one point for his faction for every day he wore his shirt out, as they reasoned that he would cop sh*t next year in high school for wearing his polo shirt like that.

The kid was socially awkward as I said, not a brazen type who could deal with the outcome.

Do you think the teachers did the right thing?
As it happened the boy still only let his shirt out about once a week, despite even the kids in his faction begging him to wear the shirt untucked.

I don't mean to be an ASW by doing my own thread but I am just interested in the responses since teachers got involved in this one to prevent bullying down the track.

ETA: It was in response to Justbeiges comment in the other thread-


QUOTE
My first thought was "Of course I would" but when I actually thought in true terms and not what should happen.

honestly, no I probably wouldnt. I have no problem with them personally - my son had lots of pink stuff as a younger child and still has a pink teddy - but I think its my job to keep them safe and one of those ways is to not knowingly make them the target of ridicule. I think this is a time and place thing.



*not saying its OK the way society is, just saying that we need to live within this society and children are in no way equiped to deal with bullying and ridicule at this age - hell at any age*

Edited by LindsayMK, 13 December 2012 - 11:36 AM.


#2 CupOfCoffee

Posted 13 December 2012 - 11:33 AM

Personally, I don't think I like what the teachers did.  It is kind of reinforcing a future of bullying for this young boy.  

They are saying, nobody will like you if you dress this way (and even setting up an environment where he is being hassled now for the way he is dressing).

So I say no... bullying is the behaviour that needs to be changed, not the victims behaviour.



#3 Sweet like a lemon

Posted 13 December 2012 - 11:37 AM

Strongly disagree with the teachers. Rather than promoting individuality and tolerance among their students they opted for conformity to peer pressure. This does anything but prevent bullying. This is typical blame the victim mentality. Like saying if we don't wear short skirts we minimise our chances of being raped. Stupid, socially backward and it doesn't address the actual problem which lies with bullies not their victims.



#4 Becky Thatcher

Posted 13 December 2012 - 11:39 AM

Interesting responses. I agree in principle with what you are saying, but I agree with the teachers. Would be interested to get some teachers responses original.gif


EFS

Edited by LindsayMK, 13 December 2012 - 11:44 AM.


#5 niggles

Posted 13 December 2012 - 11:45 AM

The school I taught in had a very unusual approach to diversity - in that the kids loved it. There was no tall poppy syndrome. There was no 'in groups' and 'out groups'. There were just lots of kids with very different interests - all 'cool' in their own way.

When it comes to uniforms there was only one way to wear it with no exceptions so bullying about how you wear your clothes didn't exist at school. That's the system I support for kids. Everyone wears the same thing. They show respect for themselves, each other and the school by wearing it correctly. The teachers make a big deal about presenting themselves well - the underlying principle being 'sweat the small stuff and the big stuff takes care of itself' or something like that. I think it works well myself.

There is no way on earth I would have done what you've described OP but my perspective is no doubt skewed by never having worked in a school where one would be bullies for something so banal.

#6 mpjp

Posted 13 December 2012 - 11:46 AM

God no, I do not agree with what the teachers did. And if I read this correctly - they haven't discouraged bullying AT ALL, in fact I'd say they are reinforcing it - a negative concequnce for not confirming to some arbitary standard. I could understand if it the kid was breaking a rule or something, but tucking his shirt in???? I'd be HORRIFIED if that was my kid.

#7 Sweet like a lemon

Posted 13 December 2012 - 11:48 AM

Why not look for responses from victims instead? Find out if any amount of conforming made them less of a target. Bullies don't give a sh*t if your shirt is in or out (why would anyone) only that you're an easy target.



#8 Julie3Girls

Posted 13 December 2012 - 11:49 AM

I can see why the teacher did it.

But i don't think the teacher went about it the right way.
I think making kids aware that some things might make them more of a target is one thing. Suggestions to help them fit in isn't a bad thing.

I do think trying to FORCE that a child to change like that is wrong. The teacher might have been trying to prevent bullying in the future, but instead put him in a position where he was getting pressured from his current classmates to change.  
It's also encouraging the other kids to think that how you wear your clothes affects who you are. Putting it out there to other kids that if someone bullies you, you are the one at fault.
Wrong wrong wrong.

Much better approach is stop any of the bullying, teach the kids in the class to accpet people the way they are. And teach them to stand up to bullying - not just if someone targets, but if they see it happening to anyone.
I'm guessing since the class had probably gone through school with this boy, they were accepting of how he wore his shirt, wouldn't have been a big deal. At high school the following year, it's quite likely a few of them at least would have been going to the same schools. They will go to high school and think nothing of the way the kid wears his shirt - which sets an example to the other kids who don't know him.

As I said, good intentions, but I think they went the wrong way about it.

Edited by Julie3Girls, 13 December 2012 - 11:56 AM.


#9 Becky Thatcher

Posted 13 December 2012 - 11:52 AM

Thanks for the responses.The school was actually a great school and the teachers were lovely. It think it was done from a place of protecting the boy when he entered high school.

Seems I am alone so far, and that is fine original.gif  good discussion.

#10 CupOfCoffee

Posted 13 December 2012 - 11:58 AM

I also think it is naive it think that untucking a shirt will make an awkward kid invisible to bullies.

My husband was once the awkward kid, he could dress like everyone else but he is still awkward (he has aspergers).  He was bullied relentlessly and violently. There was nothing he could have done himself to stop it, not should he have to... he deserved to be safe at school and he wasn't.

So as well as my earlier post, I think it both reinforces bullying, targets the wrong person to change and will not ultimately make the person less likely to be bullied (if you don't address the bullies themselves).

#11 baddmammajamma

Posted 13 December 2012 - 12:15 PM

QUOTE (CupOfCoffee @ 13/12/2012, 12:58 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I also think it is naive it think that untucking a shirt will make an awkward kid invisible to bullies.

My husband was once the awkward kid, he could dress like everyone else but he is still awkward (he has aspergers).  He was bullied relentlessly and violently. There was nothing he could have done himself to stop it, not should he have to... he deserved to be safe at school and he wasn't.

So as well as my earlier post, I think it both reinforces bullying, targets the wrong person to change and will not ultimately make the person less likely to be bullied (if you don't address the bullies themselves).


THIS!

I don't agree with the teacher's approach at all. If I were the boy's mother, I would be irate.

It hits waaaaaaay too close to home for me.

Last year, when my daughter was in FYOS, she became "besties" with a fellow weirdly wired little girl.

The girl's mother, a ridiculously competitive woman, worried that her daughter would become more "ASD-like" if she had a close friendship with my daughter.

So she & the child's teacher (unbeknowst to me & leaders at our school) put in a reward system for the little girl -- rewarding her for when she DIDN'T play or talk to my daughter at school, as opposed to looking for more effective ways to help both little girls expand their circles of friends while not banning their own friendship.

(Thankfullly, both the teacher & the nightmare mother have since left our lovely school).



#12 ~~~

Posted 13 December 2012 - 12:25 PM

QUOTE (baddmammajamma @ 13/12/2012, 01:15 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Last year, when my daughter was in FYOS, she became "besties" with a fellow weirdly wired little girl.

The girl's mother, a ridiculously competitive woman, worried that her daughter would become more "ASD-like" if she had a close friendship with my daughter.

So she & the child's teacher (unbeknowst to me & leaders at our school) put in a reward system for the little girl -- rewarding her for when she DIDN'T play or talk to my daughter at school, as opposed to looking for more effective ways to help both little girls expand their circles of friends while not banning their own friendship.


Seriously?? People do this???  ohmy.gif

#13 snuffles

Posted 13 December 2012 - 12:29 PM

I'm with the majority.  If you are more comfortable wearing your shirt tucked in, that is much more important than what others 'might' think of you wearing it that way.  As said several times in this thread, bullies go for the easy target, no matter how well you 'conform', if you are easy to pick on, they will pick on you.

I was verbally bullied through several years of high school and it wasn't until I gave up trying to fit in, and started expressing myself, both through how I dressed, and how I behaved, that the bullies started to back off - I became more confident and subsequently not such an easy target.

The focus should be on what is causing bullies to behave that way, teaching them new behaviours - ie going to the 'root' of the problem.



#14 mpjp

Posted 13 December 2012 - 12:31 PM

QUOTE (LindsayMK @ 13/12/2012, 12:52 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Thanks for the responses.The school was actually a great school and the teachers were lovely. It think it was done from a place of protecting the boy when he entered high school.

Seems I am alone so far, and that is fine original.gif good discussion.



By that reasoning then it must have been ok for my Dad  to beat one of my brothers when we were kids to 'toughen him up' because bullies used to physically assault him at school....

Edited by meplainjanebrain, 13 December 2012 - 12:32 PM.


#15 mpjp

Posted 13 December 2012 - 12:34 PM

QUOTE (baddmammajamma @ 13/12/2012, 01:15 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Last year, when my daughter was in FYOS, she became "besties" with a fellow weirdly wired little girl.

The girl's mother, a ridiculously competitive woman, worried that her daughter would become more "ASD-like" if she had a close friendship with my daughter.

So she & the child's teacher (unbeknowst to me & leaders at our school) put in a reward system for the little girl -- rewarding her for when she DIDN'T play or talk to my daughter at school, as opposed to looking for more effective ways to help both little girls expand their circles of friends while not banning their own friendship.

(Thankfullly, both the teacher & the nightmare mother have since left our lovely school).


O.M.G. You aren't serious are you? That is so appalling it makes me shudder. Your poor little girl. No wonder kids are bullies with these as role models....

#16 Becky Thatcher

Posted 13 December 2012 - 12:34 PM

QUOTE (meplainjanebrain @ 13/12/2012, 01:31 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
By that reasoning then it must have been ok for my Dad  to beat one of my brothers when we were kids to 'toughen him up' because bullies used to physically assault him at school....


I think that was a bit harsh.

Oh, I see you edited too quickly-the comment about me huh.gif

#17 baddmammajamma

Posted 13 December 2012 - 12:35 PM

QUOTE (~~~ @ 13/12/2012, 01:25 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Seriously?? People do this???  ohmy.gif


QUOTE (~~~ @ 13/12/2012, 01:25 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Seriously?? People do this???  ohmy.gif


Yes, sadly, they do...

This particular mother was so overbearing and so worried about her child being "the best" that she just couldn't handle the thought of her precious petal being "dragged down" by -- gasp -- a child with special needs.

The fact that a teacher was actually involved in this scheme makes it even more revolting. To our school's credit, once the powers that be got wind of the situation, they took action.

The sad part is, this mother ruined the only really meaningful friendship that her daughter had that year -- and her child continued to struggle, even after my little girl (who was shattered) managed to build other friendships.

Anyway, back to the OP's question. We live our lives doing positive reinforcement with our daughter as a behavioral tool -- to mitigate challenging behaviors and replace them with better ones. Very common tool.

HOWEVER, wearing a shirt tucked in is not a challenging or undesirable behavior. It's just a kid being who he wants to be and dressing in a way that makes him comfortable. Totally misdirected effort by the teacher in the original post, even if her intentions were good.

#18 Becky Thatcher

Posted 13 December 2012 - 12:36 PM

BMJ, that is a terrible story. I will tell you one that you will like but I need some shut eye after night shift original.gif

Edited by LindsayMK, 13 December 2012 - 12:37 PM.


#19 mpjp

Posted 13 December 2012 - 12:36 PM

QUOTE (LindsayMK @ 13/12/2012, 01:34 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I think that was a bit harsh.

Oh, I see you edited too quickly-the comment about me huh.gif


Yes I re-read and realised I had written something that I didnt intend at all.....

But that is what I feel about the teachers reasoning.

#20 Sweet like a lemon

Posted 13 December 2012 - 12:40 PM

Well OP, you seem in favour of their actions, why? Name one positive thing about this approach. In what way do you think it helps the victim and in what way does it address bullying?

BMJ, that's just awful.


#21 JRA

Posted 13 December 2012 - 12:41 PM

QUOTE (baddmammajamma @ 13/12/2012, 12:15 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
So she & the child's teacher (unbeknowst to me & leaders at our school) put in a reward system for the little girl -- rewarding her for when she DIDN'T play or talk to my daughter at school, as opposed to looking for more effective ways to help both little girls expand their circles of friends while not banning their own friendship.

(Thankfullly, both the teacher & the nightmare mother have since left our lovely school).


It is bad for a parent to be like that, actually shocking. But to think a teacher would do that just is incredible.

#22 Lyn29

Posted 13 December 2012 - 12:51 PM

QUOTE (baddmammajamma @ 13/12/2012, 01:15 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
So she & the child's teacher (unbeknowst to me & leaders at our school) put in a reward system for the little girl -- rewarding her for when she DIDN'T play or talk to my daughter at school, as opposed to looking for more effective ways to help both little girls expand their circles of friends while not banning their own friendship.

That is nothing like the original example - such behaviour from a teacher is disgraceful and should have been the subject of an official complaint.

As for the original one - OP, I agree with the sentiment of the teacher, but not the action. If she felt strongly that the child was setting himself up to be a target for bullies, no way should she have made such information public knowledge. I wouldn't be too bothered by her plan if no one else in the grade knew (so points would be out - in fact the whole reward thing is off) but making the rest of the class privy to the plan makes it more problem than solution.

I have counselled some children - and their parents - about behaviours that will attract bullying. I've had to tell children about hygiene requirements, and explained to the parents that children are avoiding their child because of his/her smell (and it's an awful conversation to have to have, but I felt I had to). I've told a parent that I'm worried her daughter will become the target of bullies if the mum keeps walking her into class, unpacking her bag for her and then hugging her for 10 minutes before she finally clears out after the bell. This kid is 10 - mum really needs to back off a little and DD needs to stop crying. She's much better and it's a work in progress for both child and mum, but I couldn't let such behaviour continue without alerting them to the potential consequences.

It's easy to say we should all accept differences (and I do promote that) but some behaviours (like being smelly, picking noses in public, crying for pathetic reasons like not getting the seat you want, and so on) are going to attract unwanted comment. Sometimes "bullying" (like, "He sayed I dont talk good,") is actually a statement of fact.

And I haven't proofread this or attended to nuance, so please don't pick up little phrases that I could have worded more effectively - you know what I am trying to say!

#23 BadCat

Posted 13 December 2012 - 01:13 PM

I think it's OK but perhaps not the teacher's place to do it.

If I were the boy's mum I would have encouraged him to stop doing it myself.  In fact I have encouraged my own DS to change something about the way he dresses before he goes into high shcool next year.

Celebrating individuality is all very well but I'd rather he be very slightly less quirky than a whole lot more shunned and bullied.

And you can talk all you like about addressing the bullying rather than behaviours that attract it but it's naive to think anything is going to change on that score any time soon.  By all means send your own kids off to school with a big target on their back and the ever so comforting knowledge that the bullies are doing the wrong thing, but I would prefer my kid to avoid drawing negative attention.  Pink shoes in pre-school is one thing, dressing like a dork in high school is a whole different ball game.

Edited by BadCat, 13 December 2012 - 01:21 PM.


#24 Lyn29

Posted 13 December 2012 - 01:13 PM

QUOTE (ForsakenTruth @ 13/12/2012, 12:37 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Strongly disagree with the teachers. Rather than promoting individuality and tolerance among their students they opted for conformity to peer pressure. This does anything but prevent bullying. This is typical blame the victim mentality. Like saying if we don't wear short skirts we minimise our chances of being raped. Stupid, socially backward and it doesn't address the actual problem which lies with bullies not their victims.

But we have to be realistic too. Women (hell, anyone!) *should* be able to walk down any street wearing any getup they like at any time of the day or night and they *should* be safe. We *should* be able to leave our car windows open on hot days and our doors open at night and have our belongings left alone. We *should* be able to let a stranger into our home to use the phone and not feel threatened. We *should* be able to let our children play in the parks and streets without us looking over their shoulders. But most of us live in communities where the 99% of people doing the right thing isn't enough.

I can (and do) teach and promote tolerance, belonging, community, individuality - but that doesn't mean every child gets the lesson. As BMJ's example shows, sometimes you're battling the parents - and the idiot teacher in that particular example - and so no amount of lessons and examples and encouragement will make the world failsafe. Hence we also have to teach protective behaviours, resilience, making choices. If you want pink hair and a green swastika tattooed on your face as an adult, fine, but know that some people will give you grief. It may not be right, but it's life. If you can handle that (or enjoy that) then go ahead. But if you know that negative reactions are going to upset you, think twice. It's hard enough to get tolerance about things that cannot be changed without some people going out of their way to invite comment.

I guess it's about balance, finding your own tolerance level. You don't want to be teased for picking your nose? Then don't do it. You like your shirt tucked in and don't care if you get some grief about it? Good. Go for it.

I hope that makes sense - I really need to go and take a nap!

#25 Livsh

Posted 13 December 2012 - 01:23 PM

God no! Seriously!!??

What the hell is wrong with people!




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