“We all bleed the same. We’re more beautiful when we come together.
We all bleed the same. So tell me why, tell me why we’re divided.
If we’re gonna fight let’s fight for each other.
If we’re gonna shout let love be the cry.”
These words from an amazing song by Mandisa and TobyMac say it all. In a world polluted with bullying and arrogance, voices are needed to speak up against these travesties of common decency, without being too concerned about political correctness. Things have become so absurd that the “rights” of offenders are often elevated, while victims feel helpless.
Bullying is a major topic in Australia at the moment. Most schools boast about their “Zero Tolerance” policy against bullying on their websites and during admission interviews. The picture that they all paint seems fantastic, and as a parent, one feels confident that your child will be educated in a safe environment. In most cases, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Having been a school teacher myself for more than 18 years, I have first-hand experience and am not just sucking this out of my thumb.
The problem with society today, is that we want to be so accepting of everything and everyone, that standing up against social evils is becoming a rarity. Because if we speak up against negative behaviour, it means we need to pinpoint the culprits. And when we do that, we might offend them! What about the rights of the victims? What about children who are struggling with self – worth and confidence, who are picked on by bullies? What about people who have insecurities or disabilities that are being targeted by bullies? Those who are offending others by treating them as inferior are the ones we are protecting. Why? Because we don’t want to offend them. We don’t want to infringe on their right to of freedom of speech. Can’t we see what a ridiculous conundrum this has become.
When children behave like hooligans in schools, processes are put in place to spend more time with them and work with them. They are treated with respect and grace. When offenders are arrested by police, they have the right to swear and disrespect officers of the law, while they have to be treated with respect and grace. When children kick their teacher, spit in the face of other children and expose themselves in class, they are treated with grace and respect and get extra attention to help them. This actually happened in my wife’s class this year! Do you know what happened to this child? He had a teacher aid appointed to be with him in each class. She spent most of her day begging him to pay attention and work in class. When he eventually decided to do one sum, he was rewarded with a sweet. My wife was encouraged to buy him a toy as a reward for trying. He kicked her and he got rewarded. He spat in another child’s face and he got rewarded. He exposed himself in class, and he got rewarded. Does that seem right? I had a similar experience where a child was causing absolute chaos in one of the classes. He was swearing at teachers, refusing to bring his books to class, refusing to do any writing and disrupting the rest of the class. A relief teacher was assigned to him and a big fuss was made. He was begged to pay attention and when he eventually did a bit of work for 5 minutes, he was treated like a celebrity? What about the amazing children who were listening and who wanted to learn? Their learning was compromised by this child’s behaviour. At one stage I told him to leave the class. I was reprimanded because I did that. There was a process to follow. It involved filling in numerous forms and changing my teaching methods to accommodate him. I am doing the right thing, 90% of the other children are doing the right thing and we don’t get any support or consideration. He is breaking all the rules and we just need to accept it.
And that is my issue with schools that so easily brag about a “Zero Tolerance against Bullying” and “Excellence and Respect” in classrooms. The bullies and the “rule-breakers” are accommodated, supported and respected, while the victims and those who are trying to do the right thing, are neglected. The rights of the offenders are protected, while the innocent are forgotten.
What has happened to the days when rewards were given to those who deserve them? How have we even got to a place where we don’t want to acknowledge those who put effort into what they do, because we are afraid to hurt the feelings of those who aren’t willing to do anything, but want the accolades? Some schools refuse to record goals during matches because they don’t want to hurt the feelings of the players who don’t win. Many schools make sure that every single child gets an award at the end of the year because they don’t want children to feel left out. Now don’t get me wrong! When a child is really trying hard, that child needs to be rewarded for his/her efforts. My issue is with the person that is not willing to try and refuses to do what is expected!
If we aren’t careful, we will soon become a society of mediocrity. A society where effort disappears because it is penalised. A society where ” I can do whatever I like” becomes common because non-conformation and lack of respect is rewarded! If we aren’t careful, we will soon become a society that eliminates the victims by disregarding their pain. A society where bullies rule because their behaviour is celebrated. We are slowly becoming a society that is content with mediocre.
The question is: “Do we accept it because we are too afraid to offend the bullies, or do we speak out because we know that it’s the right thing to do!