It is deplorable for anyone who advocates for children to hear that an eighth grader in the Los Angeles area was recently assaulted and bullied in a boys bathroom in their middle school by 3 classmates. It is even worse to learn that this victim was treated in this violent way because he refused to buy a vape from his bullies. Video taken by other classmates confirms that the victim has been attacked a total of 3 times. Is it any mystery that he and his parents are now suing their Palo Verde School District?
Too many of today’s school authorities are feeling like they are engaged in active warfare rather than leading institutions that educate children. Some of these administrators have left their schools behind to seek out positions without such stressors as volatile and criminal student behavior.
A very sad part of the situation is that according to a national survey conducted by ChildStats.gov in 2015, 4,750,000 students reported they had skipped school at some point in the last year because of bullying at school. Children do not learn if they are afraid in their learning environment. Educators are painfully aware of this eventuality.
However, educators do not always approach their bullying problem as one symptom of their apparently diminished school environment, part and parcel of their severely compromised school culture.
I reiterate that it is the responsibility of educators to establish a strong and positive school culture where civility, kindness, and as a result, effective learning are its cornerstones. The culture of every school should be so strongly positive that its norms and values cannot accommodate negative interactions within its community—administrators, teachers, staff, students, and parents.
In a positive school culture, such negative behavior as bullying would be naturally rejected because the focus of every school will be to create and sustain a community for all to succeed each and every day. Indeed, school leaders must create a culture suffused with norms and values that empower their school communities to ensure their students’ success.
When a school culture is strong, positive, and caring, there is no room for anything less!
Dr. Michael C. Gillespie
Chief Academic Officer
This opinion piece was written in reference to this news story from The Daily Mail