Bullying in Schools

A Pennsylvania teenager was convicted of disorderly conduct after using his iPad to film his alleged tormentors harassing him at school.

According to a transcript of the court hearing obtained by the The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, the teen said he made the seven-minute recording “because I always felt like it wasn’t me being heard.” He said classmates bullied him daily over a period of several months.

The bullied teen’s mother called the situation a “horrible nightmare,” questioning why officials at the high school went after her son for making the recording—but did not punish the bullies. At one point, the school authorities even considered pursuing a felony wiretapping charge against the student who was continually bullied.

It is almost amazing to hear story like these in too many schools across the country. Rather than using professional judgment to assess situations, too many school administrators, think of what can I do to cover myself? Rather than thinking in terms of the law is created for justice, the decision is made to enforce the law—regardless how unfair the administrative decision. Since I teach how to combat bullying, it is a shame to see such injustices in our nation’s schools

As a former elementary, middle school, and high school principal I can claim with some accuracy that the bureaucratic syndrome is alive and well. The main consideration is “how can I not get in trouble with the central office” rather than what is just, fair, and consistent. The only way to accomplish all three of these criteria is to elicit consequences—rather than impose them. This is especially the case when it comes to bullying.