Not sure how many of you even read this blog anymore. Hopefully, you are all lurkers, just not posters or commenters...
There is a different kind of bully at schools than the ones we were used to. And I have learned this from working at a school and it is kind of sad.
Gone are the days when a furrowed-brow bully would pick on a 'nerd' at school. At least in those days, the bully was 'brave' enough to confront someone face to face. Today's bully hides behind a keyboard and computer screen. Blogs, MySpace, Facebook, and the like are the new "playgrounds" where bullys pick fights. And why not? No parents, no teachers, no rules, and a host of other cowardly kids backing them up all the way.
No holds barred is the one rule on this playground. Language so harsh Jerry Springer would have to think twice before having them on as a guest on his show.
What happens these days is that one bully will decide one kid is fat for example), and say so on their page (whatever kind of page that may be). Parents are usually not as involved in their kids' lives as they once were, so parents don't see it (And some don't even care, as my experience has been), teachers and administrators only hear about it through other kids and parents (who wish to remain nameless as they prefer to fear a child bully rather than help a bullied child from being bombarded with self-confidence-destroying words), and so the cycle continues.
News stories abound about this kind of stuff. Just Google the words facebook bully school. You may find a story where some kids got expelled from posting horrible and horrific words and phrases of teachers and faculty members. The school felt justified as it was not only a private school, but in a round-about way, it violated their rules of conduct. However, many kids protested. Skipping class, pulling fire alarms to get more kids out of class and into the protest, and forcing the police to get involved.
So you have several ways to look at this. Protect children, or protect "Free Speech", But would my democratic friends consider "Hate Speech" to be "Free Speech"? It seems you can't say anything about homosexuals, African-Americans, or Latinos anymore in this country without losing your job. In essence, you are not allowed to be racists but more realistically, you are just not allowed to use certain words when refering to certain social groups... We are either confused about the phrase "free speech" or it no longer exists. I think it still exists, but there is a line. Kids ages 11 to 16 are venerable more than we remember ourselves being. Words DO hurt. It was one thing for us to be made fun of in class, or on the playground, but today, kids are being made fun on on the W O R L D wide web. And others who, in the past, would have stood idly by and let the bullying occur, now get into the act. Again, why not? No parents, no teachers, and they are hiding behind mask of, what they believe to be anonymity. I personally don;t think it is wrong for a school to get involved if students or faculty member are the target of hateful speech. Especially if the school is private.
Though, there is nothing anonymous about a private blog or networking site page. If ONE person can see it, it is no longer private. Printers can work miracles today, and so can pressing that handy little "Prt Scr" button on your keyboard. You know the one, the one you have probably never used?
On a related note, kids are just now starting to realize that employers and colleges that they seek to enter search the web for these applicants. In some cases before the first interview. See my latest articles on this subject here and here. Even if a kid wrote some "bully" type 5 years ago once they apply for a college, Google has this cool thing that can "cache" sites. I am afraid in the near future we will have a generation of hateful kids, many of which didn't get into the college they wanted to get into, or didn't get a job because they couldn't resist putting that video of them dancing drunk when they were 15 on YouTube.
Sorry for the downer, just raise your kids to be nice folks. Maybe we can beat this thing one family at a time.