Suicide of a school girl

The state of education across the world

Re: Suicide of a school girl

Postby Gavin » 04 Nov 2013, 01:03

Indeed the school shouldn't have to prove a negative - when I said they should be able to produce bountiful evidence I mean assuming the mother or police can produce the same (she says she wrote fifteen letters, appealed them to do something about the issue over a period of time). Hopefully that will all come to light in the inquiry.

This kind of thing happens online and offline, and true, every family would be a lot better with a father in it. I just mean that if there was indeed relentless bullying and the school did turn a blind eye in this case then the staff who did so could be considered to some degree responsible (just as in the grooming cases, as I have already explained) - but I think that is probably clear now. I think schools have a duty to ensure the atmosphere is pleasant for those pupils who wish to learn and that they are not persecuted for doing so. Schools should have the power to enforce that atmosphere, or there should be whistleblowers, as we see in occasionally in other sectors.

I take your point though (and always did) that we don't know for definite what happened in this particular case, and I'm sure you take mine that sometimes even teachers who do want to do address problem can run up against those (often headmasters) would rather simply deny it exists, for political reasons.
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Re: Suicide of a school girl

Postby Mike » 04 Nov 2013, 02:41

Caleb wrote:Yet this is also why I disagree with Mike, and not just because there are plenty of cases where people get bullied for reasons beyond their control (which he would acknowledge, if he hasn't already).


Undoubtedly.

Caleb wrote:I suspect that a lot of "not fitting in" is complete nonsense. I understand that to some extent, it teaches people about social conventions and so on, and those may be necessary for a society to function. A lot of it is just petty nonsense though, because humans love petty nonsense and it's a way to gain arbitrary status or power. I suspect that almost every group needs someone to bully as a means to manufacture social cohesion. I suspect that you could get a whole lot of people at the top of their social ladders and put them together and within a short time, someone would be on the outer for not being cool enough. You could get a whole lot of people who shared the same beliefs and put them together and within a short time, someone would be on the outer for being a heretic of some sort.


A lot of this is no doubt true. But this is the human condition. We as individuals can hope to make small improvements here and there, but this is at the heart of the conservative view of life: human beings are inherently flawed, and progress in human relations is glacial. Progressives no doubt consider a whole raft of conventions as "petty nonsense", but much of this petty nonsense, whatever its lack of intrinsic meaning, is part of the glue that keeps an eternally fragile civilisation together.

Caleb wrote:What does fitting in even mean? In the modern West it quite probably means spending hours every day sitting in traffic to go to a job that a person hates and that is sucking the life out of him, being grossly unhappily unmarried (and highly likely to get divorced) with estranged kids, and up to one's eyeballs in debt (but with a big car, a big house, etc.).


Well, if you'll pardon me, that's melodramatic. It's very easy to generalise from one's own experience, or that of one's close friends, to all of humanity. And it's especially easy to do so if one feels what I like to call "the envy of the outsider", which I've had to train myself very hard over the years to avoid.

Caleb wrote:Whenever most people (including me, to a certain extent, no matter how hard I fight it because it has been that deeply ingrained in me) meet someone who doesn't have a "career", a relationship or a lot of outward signs of wealth, the first words that come to mind are "loser" if he is kind of hapless or useless, or "weirdo" if he's there by choice. Bullying at some level is usually not far behind. In fact, I'd say that being a weirdo is even worse in most people's minds than being a loser because the latter at least implies some acceptance of the social paradigm, but just being unsuccessful at it. The weirdo, on the other hand, has rejected the social paradigm, which is clearly a threat to other people's own self esteem at some level because it says that they're idiots. Or maybe he is just being himself and the rest of the world is just being weird to him. I've seen plenty of that in my life: people who are just into their own thing and not deliberately trying to rub it in anyone else's face, but by their very existence, rub it in someone else's face, and so "bring it on themselves".


In my experience, those who keep modestly to themselves are in the minority of those who are subjected to bullying. Haven't you had kids in your classes who were determined to air their superior knowledge at every opportunity, who object at other students moving a few centimetres closer to them, who constantly ask irrelevant or irritating questions, who constantly touch other students unbidden, etc., etc.?

They do not mean to be annoying, of course (well, not usually), but does quietly encouraging them to tone down such behaviour (pari passu with admonishing/punishing genuine bullies) really constitute "petty nonsense"? I don't think so for a moment. It shows them how to exist within a group, given all the typical human failings of every group, and find a degree of confidence and self-expression within it. (People who talk about "fitting in" simply as self-negation are thinking too superficially about the matter, in my view.) I'm just not sure what you're offering as an alternative.
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Re: Suicide of a school girl

Postby Andrea » 04 Nov 2013, 02:51

Wow. Just wow. Mike, I think you flew off the handle rather spectacularly as a result of Gavin's opinion on the subject, so here are my opinions.

In fact, what he said is nothing in comparison with what you later wrote:

Largely because I learned to recognise the sort of behaviour on my part that invited it (largely thanks to one sympathetic and wise-beyond-his-years classmate to whom I'll always be thankful). Now this is a key point about bullying, which I've seen confirmed time and time again in my own teaching career: most kids who are bullied at least partly bring it on themselves, and can do something about that.


What the heck?! I take umbrage to any notion that states that a bullied kid deserves it. That's absolute rubbish, and as I was bullied, I'm not going to be quiet about this. I was a well-dressed, hygienic, not ugly, Shakespeare-loving, classical music aficionado, but somehow I managed to get two football jocks to bully me relentlessly from middle school through high school. Two boys bullying a girl. Can we say lame? Yes.

Schools do cast a blind eye to bullying, especially if the bullies are considered more "valuable" to a school's reputation than the bullied person is. I was the French club/Drama club girl, who was absolutely insignificant (in their hick minds) to the strapping football players who brought glory to the school's reputation.

In one of my English classes, we had a half hour reading session on one day of the week. The teacher knew I was passionate about classical music, and she asked me to bring in a disc to play during that session. One of the bullies had to sit behind me and throughout the reading session kept whispering in my ear, "You're such a loser"; "Only freaks listen to this crap," etc. On and on, and by the time the class ended, I was on the verge of tears. I got my cd back and walked outside, only to see him waiting outside, I made to walk past and he stuck his leg out and tripped me, sending my cd flying out and breaking. Just one example of many. Nevertheless, I spoke to a teacher - who was a friend - and she told the principal, who brushed it aside because they were football players.

So, don't tell us that good kids like me brought it on ourselves. Oh, and guess what? I was better than those jocks then and I still am now. Needless to say, I found football stupid then, and I still do now.
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Re: Suicide of a school girl

Postby Mike » 04 Nov 2013, 03:15

Andrea wrote:What the heck?! I take umbrage to any notion that states that a bullied kid deserves it.


Fine, because I didn't say that. Read it again. Never did I use the word "deserve". Terminology is important here.

Andrea wrote:That's absolute rubbish, and as I was bullied, I'm not going to be quiet about this. I was a well-dressed, hygienic, not ugly, Shakespeare-loving, classical music aficionado, but somehow I managed to get two football jocks to bully me relentlessly from middle school through high school. Two boys bullying a girl. Can we say lame? Yes.

Schools do cast a blind eye to bullying, especially if the bullies are considered more "valuable" to a school's reputation than the bullied person is. I was the French club/Drama club girl, who was absolutely insignificant (in their hick minds) to the strapping football players who brought glory to the school's reputation.

In one of my English classes, we had a half hour reading session on one day of the week. The teacher knew I was passionate about classical music, and she asked me to bring in a disc to play during that session. One of the bullies had to sit behind me and throughout the reading session kept whispering in my ear, "You're such a loser"; "Only freaks listen to this crap," etc. On and on, and by the time the class ended, I was on the verge of tears. I got my cd back and walked outside, only to see him waiting outside, I made to walk past and he stuck his leg out and tripped me, sending my cd flying out and breaking. Just one example of many. Nevertheless, I spoke to a teacher - who was a friend - and she told the principal, who brushed it aside because they were football players.

So, don't tell us that good kids like me brought it on ourselves. Oh, and guess what? I was better than those jocks then and I still am now. Needless to say, I found football stupid then, and I still do now.


OK. Can I say something?

That reminds me very much of myself at school. Very much indeed.

But now I'll add the caveat. It was not clear to me during my time at school, because I was young, naive, and something of an outsider, that I could be in any way attracting the sort of bullying that you're talking about there. It was only when I was already at high school (aged 13, to be exact) that the classmate I mentioned in that original post calmly, sympathetically and honestly catalogued all the little things I habitually did which helped to draw attention to myself and, in a way, entice the bullies.

Two points here can't be made clearly enough:

1. To explain is not to excuse. There is no excuse for bullying and bullies deserve punishment. But certain behaviours on the part of students like me and perhaps (I have no way of knowing) you as well, serve to entice a certain type of person to engage in bullying. And modifying the victims' behaviour does not necessarily need to involve self-negation (the point I just made to Caleb). It might even make them better people, in the long run. Not through professing an interest in football when they have no interest, or abandoning the cultural pursuits which they value. Simply by identifying the little enticements (again, see my reply to Caleb above - the things I've mentioned are merely examples). If there are no such enticements and the victim is genuinely unable to do anything to abate it from his/her end, and of course such cases will exist (yours may have been one of them, mine wasn't), then my strictures obviously don't apply. But long experience has told me that, in the majority of cases, as I said in that very first post, there are measures that can be taken by both parties. And that's important, by the way, because there's only so far you can go with force majeure when it comes to bullies, and they will usually be able to find an outlet outside of school (this is especially true in the social media era). This is the other point that those who automatically blame the teachers consistently ignore.

2. One cannot generalise from one's own experience. You say schools do turn a blind eye to bullying. Apart from anecdotal evidence from like-minded people, can you really state this confidently as opposed to "my school turned a blind eye to my bullying"? Let me tell you from the horse's mouth (in Australia, admittedly, not the UK), teachers are constantly reminded to take bullying seriously, they are constantly in fear of litigation from parents for this and other reasons. But it is very likely that the sheer volume of material on bullying they have received from bureaucrats over the years has engendered some cynicism about the whole topic. A classic case of the "intentions do not equal results" truism.

My violent reaction to Gavin's statement about being accessories to suicide was probably partly driven by professional pride, I can admit that, but I still don't think that was a justified statement at all.
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Re: Suicide of a school girl

Postby Yessica » 04 Nov 2013, 06:35

Wow. What an interesting discussion I started...
Thanks for everybodys opinion.

To explain is not to excuse. There is no excuse for bullying and bullies deserve punishment. But certain behaviours on the part of students like me and perhaps (I have no way of knowing) you as well, serve to entice a certain type of person to engage in bullying. And modifying the victims' behaviour does not necessarily need to involve self-negation (the point I just made to Caleb). It might even make them better people, in the long run.


I was both bullied and unfortunately also a bully (which I regret) at various times at my life.

To give a few examples. When we were 12 or so there was a girl in our class who was very different than the others. Meaning that she did not care about horses or gossiping about the marriage of stars. Instead she was into physics.
We bullied her and felt self-rightous about it, because well she really was different from the other girls in the class. We called her lesbian, asked her questions about the life of movie stars and when she could not answer them we felt even more self-rightous convinced that she was a freak.

It was not her doing well in school alone the made her a victim of the bullying. Other girls including me did well, too, and those were especially eager to bully her and not to associate with her. It was the fact that she cosidered the shallow things we were all about unimportant.
What would be your recipe here? Tell a girl like this she should change her interests in order to become more shallow.

Another example: I am upper middle class, my fathers family is landed gentry. Now that was very uncool in school. My parents have interest in arts and the opera, uncool again.
I was bullied for that. I was even on a few occasion bullied by people who barely knew me but knew only my name - thus knew my father was gentry. They called me inbred, posh and thinks like this. On other occasions I was bullied for speaking to posh - again by people who barely knew me - they mimicked the way I talked. There was no way they could have known about any unpleasant traits of character I have. They simply bullied me for speaking the wrong way (or right way?).
I modified my behaviour by learning to talk like a slum-dweller and never stating an opinion on arts, culture and so on. As a teen I was crazy enough to claim that I was nearly an alcoholic who could not keep herself from boozing. In fact I detested alcohol and mixed it with water whenever I had the chance to do so in secret.
Do you think that this was a good idea? Well, I do think it was foolish.

I have known people who were bullied for being misfits. For example one girl in my class was bullied because she never showered. She stank. Nobody knows why she did not shower (might be psychological issues), but bullying her probably did not help at all.
In this case however the teacher should have talked with her and should have tried to make her change her behaviour... but in a nice way without finding excuses for the bullies.
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Re: Suicide of a school girl

Postby Mike » 04 Nov 2013, 06:42

Sorry Gavin, in the blur of posts I missed your last one:

Gavin wrote:I think schools have a duty to ensure the atmosphere is pleasant for those pupils who wish to learn and that they are not persecuted for doing so. Schools should have the power to enforce that atmosphere, or there should be whistleblowers, as we see in occasionally in other sectors.


Entirely agreed there, and I try to keep that in mind every (working) day. Fortunately, I'm in a school in which it's much easier to promote such an atmosphere than at many other Australian schools.

I take your point though (and always did) that we don't know for definite what happened in this particular case, and I'm sure you take mine that sometimes even teachers who do want to do address problem can run up against those (often headmasters) would rather simply deny it exists, for political reasons.


Again, absolutely. One good instance is Catholic rugby schools (largely an Australian phenomenon I think, although there are probably a few in the UK - Stonyhurst?) which I've taught at in the past, where the stars of the Holy First XV will be almost literally forgiven anything. And at another one I taught at, there were two Aboriginal kids (both appallingly behaved) who were also forgiven just about anything, because it was so important to the school's PC credentials to keep them there.
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Re: Suicide of a school girl

Postby Caleb » 04 Nov 2013, 06:46

Caleb wrote:I suspect that a lot of "not fitting in" is complete nonsense. I understand that to some extent, it teaches people about social conventions and so on, and those may be necessary for a society to function. A lot of it is just petty nonsense though, because humans love petty nonsense and it's a way to gain arbitrary status or power. I suspect that almost every group needs someone to bully as a means to manufacture social cohesion. I suspect that you could get a whole lot of people at the top of their social ladders and put them together and within a short time, someone would be on the outer for not being cool enough. You could get a whole lot of people who shared the same beliefs and put them together and within a short time, someone would be on the outer for being a heretic of some sort.


A lot of this is no doubt true. But this is the human condition. We as individuals can hope to make small improvements here and there, but this is at the heart of the conservative view of life: human beings are inherently flawed, and progress in human relations is glacial. Progressives no doubt consider a whole raft of conventions as "petty nonsense", but much of this petty nonsense, whatever its lack of intrinsic meaning, is part of the glue that keeps an eternally fragile civilisation together.


I understand that humans are inherently flawed. That is why, theoretically, there should be a legal system or other institutions that stand above all of that and put in place some set of laws judged by people outside the immediate situation precisely so that the inherently flawed nature of people doesn't cloud things. I find many developing countries, including the one in which I live, to often be highly unjust societies precisely because they are governed by culture (which often translates into who has the most social or financial power) and not rule of law. Where I think Western civilisation is coming apart right now is that it is moving more in such a direction. What I find very disturbing about progressive politics a lot of the time is not that it's too tolerant, but that it is highly intolerant. Progressive often show their true colours once they get power and become exactly what they once railed against, or worse.

Well, if you'll pardon me, that's melodramatic. It's very easy to generalise from one's own experience, or that of one's close friends, to all of humanity. And it's especially easy to do so if one feels what I like to call "the envy of the outsider", which I've had to train myself very hard over the years to avoid.


Not really. The divorce statistics are there. Marriage satisfaction statistics are there. Then there are growing numbers of people (most notably in Japan, but elsewhere too) completely eschewing marriage, and even sex, because they believe it's so toxic. There are statistics for job satisfaction or debt levels that are not good. The sub-prime mortgage crisis, ensuing GFC, gross levels of youth unemployment coupled with levels of student debt, etc. demonstrate that all is not well. I think a lot of people are quite dissatisfied right now. Highly reactionary political parties are springing up all over the place because I think a lot of people believe they've been sold a lie, and not just on multiculturalism, but on economics and culture generally. A lot of people are deliberately opting out of the present social conventions.

In my experience, those who keep modestly to themselves are in the minority of those who are subjected to bullying. Haven't you had kids in your classes who were determined to air their superior knowledge at every opportunity, who object at other students moving a few centimetres closer to them, who constantly ask irrelevant or irritating questions, who constantly touch other students unbidden, etc., etc.?

They do not mean to be annoying, of course (well, not usually), but does quietly encouraging them to tone down such behaviour (pari passu with admonishing/punishing genuine bullies) really constitute "petty nonsense"? I don't think so for a moment. It shows them how to exist within a group, given all the typical human failings of every group, and find a degree of confidence and self-expression within it. (People who talk about "fitting in" simply as self-negation are thinking too superficially about the matter, in my view.) I'm just not sure what you're offering as an alternative.


Of course I have had students who have been annoying to others (and to me). I know I have also been/am such a person to others. In that sense, such people do create friction and bring it on themselves to a degree. Yet there are two things to say about that.

The first is that I have also seen a lot of people (more than just a small minority) who weren't picked on for being in someone else's face. Many were picked on simply for being different, or even more than that, simply for being weak and lacking confidence. Others could almost smell the weakness and lack of confidence on them and made a beeline directly for that, no matter how hard such people tried to blend into the woodwork.

The second point is that I don't believe the bullies are always people who have been encroached upon. I went to an all boys' private school where if you didn't spend your weekend playing football, getting drunk and scoring with a random chick, and then loudly proclaiming it to everyone else on Monday, or high fiving those guys who did, you were, by definition, a "fag" and ripe for bullying, even if you kept your eyes down and your mouth shut. Of course, anyone who dared to question that status quo (such as me) was definitely up for it. The obnoxious people at my school weren't just bullied. More often than not, they were the bullies. It's just that, as others have pointed out, if you're "cool" you get a free pass. I didn't really care, since I could (and did) fight back back both verbally and physically (I was on the state judo team at the time). Plenty of other "fags" who actually were trying to mind their own business got crushed along the way though.

Why should the people who were good at academics, music, drama or less popular/important sports have had to hide such things when the people who were on certain sporting teams, prefects, etc. never made any attempt to hide such things (and indeed rubbed them in everyone else's faces)? The greatest irony in all of it was that our football team was useless anyway and rarely even won a match.
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Re: Suicide of a school girl

Postby Mike » 04 Nov 2013, 06:58

Yessica wrote:To give a few examples. When we were 12 or so there was a girl in our class who was very different than the others. Meaning that she did not care about horses or gossiping about the marriage of stars. Instead she was into physics.
We bullied her and felt self-rightous about it, because well she really was different from the other girls in the class. We called her lesbian, asked her questions about the life of movie stars and when she could not answer them we felt even more self-rightous convinced that she was a freak.

It was not her doing well in school alone the made her a victim of the bullying. Other girls including me did well, too, and those were especially eager to bully her and not to associate with her. It was the fact that she cosidered the shallow things we were all about unimportant.
What would be your recipe here? Tell a girl like this she should change her interests in order to become more shallow.


If we're talking likelihoods, I'd say that probably (but only probably, as usual it's impossible to know) she would have been vocal about the fact that she considered your or your friends' interests unimportant. In which case, as a teacher (if I found out about the situation) I'd rip into the bullies first - it's necessary to get things in the right order, so to speak - and then have a quick word to the victim about how she might avoid attracting so much attention in future. But never, ever, would I encourage her to abandon her interest in physics or start reading entertainment magazines. That would be grossly irresponsible on my part.

If there was no such "enticement", as I've called it, then the bullies are of course the only ones that need talking to, and the victim merely needs encouragement and support.

Yessica wrote:Another example: I am upper middle class, my fathers family is landed gentry. Now that was very uncool in school. My parents have interest in arts and the opera, uncool again.
I was bullied for that. I was even on a few occasion bullied by people who barely knew me but knew only my name - thus knew my father was gentry. They called me inbred, posh and thinks like this. On other occasions I was bullied for speaking to posh - again by people who barely knew me - they mimicked the way I talked. There was no way they could have known about any unpleasant traits of character I have. They simply bullied me for speaking the wrong way (or right way?).
I modified my behaviour by learning to talk like a slum-dweller and never stating an opinion on arts, culture and so on. As a teen I was crazy enough to claim that I was nearly an alcoholic who could not keep herself from boozing. In fact I detested alcohol and mixed it with water whenever I had the chance to do so in secret.
Do you think that this was a good idea? Well, I do think it was foolish.


That's a difficult one. It happens a lot, of course, and people sometimes find themselves having to alter their accents considerably. And it's usually the associations connected with those accents that matter, rather than the accents themselves.

I have known that sort of thing in schools. One kid I once taught, for instance, was Hong Kong British and had a rather plummy British accent, which made him the target of bullying for a while, although it wasn't the only factor...again, there were ways in which he was attracting attention to himself, and I gently tried to point a couple of them out to him, with, I think, modest success. Then I've had a couple with American accents at around the time (just post-Iraq) when Americans were very unpopular. Was the bullying you experienced in that sense long-lasting, or relatively short-lived? What I found was that eventually these kids simply took the edge off their accents a bit (which is likely to happen with constant exposure to other kids anyway, actually), and the bullying petered out.

Yessica wrote:I have known people who were bullied for being misfits. For example one girl in my class was bullied because she never showered. She stank. Nobody knows why she did not shower (might be psychological issues), but bullying her probably did not help at all.
In this case however the teacher should have talked with her and should have tried to make her change her behaviour... but in a nice way without finding excuses for the bullies.


That one is primarily a case for social workers rather than teachers, in my view.
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Re: Suicide of a school girl

Postby Gavin » 04 Nov 2013, 07:42

By some considerable coincidence the lead BBC news headline today is that the former director of public prosecutions, Keir Starmer, has proposed that those who can be shown to have in all likelihood known about abuse (in this case child abuse) but to have done nothing about it (or even buried it), should face criminal charges. Seems to be man in agreement with me!

Obviously this would set a precedent and will not be welcomed from the point of view of professionals working in the given fields (though I think it should be - especially by would-be whistleblowers), but the key words here are "can be shown". Take a look at the article: the trouble the authorities have been facing is that there has been no criminal sanction against people who could have prevented abuse but made no effort to do so. You'd think negligence would cover it, but apparently not. This is really the point I was getting at previously (and I think relentless psychological and physical bullying can certainly be regarded as abuse).

Regarding the idea of some pupils "attracting" bullying, I think that runs a bit close to excusing bullying for my liking, because often the victim of a bully need not have done anything wrong except be civilised: those who delight in persecuting others can detect sensitivity like sharks detect blood and are merciless in stamping down on it. I don't think there is much a child can do in that situation, nor should they have to try to calculate some way out of their predicament.

It could be argued (though I'm not suggesting Mike is saying this) that the Alan Turing or Bertrand Russell type child should really have learned karate or kick-boxing in order to defend themselves against bullies and it was their own fault they were bullied because they did not do so. This would seem to me to be an institution admitting powerlessness and that it could not and would not offer a safe environment for study for those not inclined towards kick-boxing or violence in general, so it wouldn't be the way to go. Also given modern PC it's quite possible the victim would be the one in trouble if they delivered a blow which ended up injuring or killing their tormenter.
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Re: Suicide of a school girl

Postby Paul » 04 Nov 2013, 23:10

A tragic story indeed, one that I did read about this last week or so, via a link other than from this forum.

There have been some good points raised, some that I agree with, others I maybe do not. I can only offer limited input, limited in that I do not have any experience of school-days in Britain today (thank goodness I'm tempted to say - and so I will say!) in that my school-days ended over 34 years ago and I am not a teacher. My mother worked in education at primary level until 2010 but bullying is not a subject I've ever discussed with her. Neither of my two children ever mentioned being bullied and seemed happy enough at school and did well in their studies. None of their teachers ever mentioned it at parents' evenings, so the subject never arose. I tend to think that a greater awareness of bullying (or rather greater acceptance it occurs) and anti-bullying campaigns have helped a great deal ....... though obviously not in this and many other tragic cases one hears of - so I'm probably completely wrong!

I was bullied quite badly in the first year of Junior school (1971, aged seven) by a particularly obnoxious boy, who also bullied various other boys. He came from a large 'trouble family' with several siblings in the same mould, who thankfully however were several years older than me and so 'off my radar' - or rather me off theirs. My tormentor was continually in trouble and continually getting 'slippered' which seemed to have no effect on his behaviour at all. He was a hard-case even at that age, coming from a hard, rough family.

We were all aware (as were the school) that the boy smelt terrible (unwashed including his clothing), as did his siblings (you could tell) as did their abode - which nobody in their right minds would have visited. I heard tales from people who lived close to their house or who had to pass it on the way to and from school. Of course there are still households like this today, as detailed by various TV programmes about such things, and that's before one thinks about drug households, a more modern problem.

His torments eventually (once in my case) graduated to, what would be in a criminal sense described as 'demanding money with menaces'. My parents found out, other parents found out, the school found out and ........ I can't remember what happened next! I do know the entire family moved away soon after this, to the immense relief of the entire community I would think, and that was the end of the matter. Maybe the boy was expelled, but expulsion was never something one heard of back then, being too terrible to contemplate. More likely he probably got into trouble outside of school too (almost certainly in fact) in a criminal sense and was sent to Approved School - no doubt terrible institutions, where the potential for bullying was even worse. Let's hope he either mended his ways (very unlikely) or went from there to a Borstal and eventually prison. It's quite frightful to imagine he and his family may still exist somewhere, having no doubt predated upon every community they've been in.

I like to think of an even earlier era where this boy would one day have decorated the end of a rope on a local gibbet or a naval yard-arm. I feel no remorse saying this - the entire family were horrible. Maybe that's where such scum ended up once upon a time - in the military - and became Wellington's 'scum of the earth' and 'terrifying', or elements of a rapacious navy. It's not a nice thought.

Until thinking over this thread I had forgotten all about them entirely, so thankfully there were no lasting effects.

What is indisputable in this case is that none of his victims 'invited it' or made themselves easy targets or were able to avoid it. The boy was a predator and picked on almost everyone not considerably bigger and stronger than him. He would have had the back-up of equally predatory elder brothers too and of his family in general. No doubt the community were terrorised by the family (I pity their neighbours), none of whom would have invited it either. Back then, the Police and criminal justice system were considerably more robust so it was just a matter of time before such people were locked away - and good riddance to them too. No doubt liberals would be horrified by this attitude. As we say with many other such instances - let them go live next door to these type of people or see how they feel if their children become targets.

What's really bad is there are doubtless very many more of this type of people around today. They might be cleaner and have the latest designer footwear but they're doubtless just as horrible. That's because the criminal justice system is weak, not the schools. Or where the schools are weak, it's because they have been weakened terribly by that same cj system.

So thinking about it along these lines I would be very sympathetic to the plight of schools and schoolteachers. The boy I spoke of was continually corporally punished but it had no effect - or rather it probably did in ensuring the very worst of his depredations were curbed a little and that they didn't flourish into something worse ......though they did anyway, as I said above.

These days schools aren't even allowed to cane such people. So where does that leave them? Even in the event of whatever trifling action they may take, there are such things as 'procedure' and ticking all the right boxes ....... to prevent schoolteachers becoming the targets of the law themselves! What a crazy situation. We know what the liberals will say again. Corporal punishment will 'brutalise' these type of people (but they're already brutal?) and we should 'hug them' instead. It would be laughable if it wasn't so tragic. Instead it's infuriating or even a cause for despair.

So as we know, the criminal system is now all but toothless and is in fact skewed against schools and teachers. One can't expect schools to 'do the right thing', when the right thing is outlawed, when there is a very real fear of prosecution and a life and career-ruining result and when the justice system offers no back-up in any sense at all.

Who would be a teacher these days? Not me. To the very many who are, on this forum, you're either all heroes or, with respect - crazy!
Paul
 
Posts: 512
Joined: 02 Aug 2011, 11:37
Location: Lancashire, England.

Re: Suicide of a school girl

Postby Paul » 05 Nov 2013, 00:35

I suppose what I said in my earlier post amounted to not very much at all, rather mainly dealing with a particularly extreme example of a bully, of whom I think will always exist.

Further points then:

I think this type of people are probably even more prevalent today, yet undoubtably having a higher standard of living and so less 'excuse' for barbarism. Of course, even back then, only one family in very, very many were that barbarous.

If the boy I mentioned was at school today - that is if we could transpose my primary school in 1971 to today, then he would likely to be arriving at school with knives and even drugs, even aged seven. I suppose we can say that in this case, even today, such antics would result in removal from school and him being locked up - though I'm not sure aged just seven.

On a broader scale today, the general bullying won't be by people this extreme (in comparison to everyone else). Or will they not? The fact that society is more barbarous in comparison to earlier eras (though this is for how long - a mere hundred years or even less in England?) means that even the general or 'milder' bad-hats will be correspondingly much worse. It would be no comfort to a schoolchild to say that their tormentors were not the extremists and more run-of-the-mill bullies.

I can just imagine (see below) problem families in the inner cities of today, or even the suburbs now. The families might be crime families with considerable assets and influence and terrifying reputations. Or affiliates and in networks with these families. I'm thinking of drug crime mainly of course. Gangster families. No doubt the school and the teachers are terrified. No wonder they may sometimes keep their heads down.

I know one ex school headmistress, now retired and emigrated to rural France (like TD). She headed a school, throughout the late 1990s on the boundary of Salford (twin town of Manchester). She was advised by Greater Manchester Police to think about turning up to work in a bullet-proof vest! As were some of her colleagues, who had took somewhat of a stand against some pupils (or reported truancy). The pupils were the children of Salford crime families, of which there were (are) many.

Having said all that, this would all be no doubt common-place and even 'tame' to people in some areas of the US.

I would echo the concerns made in earlier posts about the seeming absence of a father, even biologically as well as habitation-wise. There seems no mention of him, not even after his daughter's demise. What kind of person is that? What has occurred in that family and what has the mother done (about things) in relation to that? Of course, these days we 'mustn't judge'.

The highlighting of social media bullying is a good thing to note and the concerns about a (seeming) lack of observation of this is valid. I can't personally understand why someone would become suicidal about bullying from a distance and via words (or text) alone, but that of course is incredibly heartless because not every soul is the same. Some are more fragile and teenaged girls maybe the most fragile of all.

It reminds me of the story of the British girl who was raped and murdered a few years ago in Goa, India, and of her own (feckless in that case) single mother and absent father. TD himself wrote a very good piece, using the case as an example of various failings. Of course this case is somewhat different and I wouldn't wish to tarnish this grieving mother with quite the same brush that TD used in the earlier case. Still.....

In my view that main failing in all this is, as I did mention earlier, that of the criminal justice system at the outset, both in its treatment of the worst offenders (or all offenders) and in its emasculation of schools in the first place.

I was the target of some more bullying at Grammar School though not for prolonged periods nor continually. I didn't invite it at all, but just happened to be there and a target for that moment. I won't detail it here, but include it in the Grammar School thread (of which I will now aim to continue before contributing to any other thread here).

None of it was too bad - even the incident that left me with a broken wrist!
Paul
 
Posts: 512
Joined: 02 Aug 2011, 11:37
Location: Lancashire, England.

Re: Suicide of a school girl

Postby Mike » 05 Nov 2013, 01:09

Paul wrote:So thinking about it along these lines I would be very sympathetic to the plight of schools and schoolteachers. The boy I spoke of was continually corporally punished but it had no effect - or rather it probably did in ensuring the very worst of his depredations were curbed a little and that they didn't flourish into something worse ......though they did anyway, as I said above.

These days schools aren't even allowed to cane such people. So where does that leave them? Even in the event of whatever trifling action they may take, there are such things as 'procedure' and ticking all the right boxes ....... to prevent schoolteachers becoming the targets of the law themselves!


This is all true, but the key point these days is that, unlike in the pre-internet days, the bullying will continue online or via text messages if any of the traditional school-based avenues are (temporarily) closed to the bullier. And in fact, it is likely to be even more virulent in such cases, for obvious reasons. And all that teachers can do in this event is to encourage the people being bullied to lay off the social media for a while, but these suggestions are almost never followed (I could quote you a dozen examples of that from the past five years of so from my school alone). Not that this will prevent the teacher from being blamed.

Incidentally, I would define the boy you described as a thug rather than a bully. Not a technical term of course, but it's a slightly different kettle of fish.

Paul wrote:Who would be a teacher these days? Not me. To the very many who are, on this forum, you're either all heroes or, with respect - crazy!


Ha - don't worry, I take that as a compliment.

In about my third year of teaching one of the kids asked me if anyone in his class should become a teacher. And my answer was "No, none of you are remotely crazy enough." I was half serious!
Mike
 
Posts: 402
Joined: 01 Aug 2011, 11:08
Location: Australia

Re: Suicide of a school girl

Postby Mike » 05 Nov 2013, 01:12

By the way, if anyone is interested in further reading on this topic, which is by no means as straightforward as it appears, I can highly recommend the articles by Helene Guldberg on the always informative spiked website. Plenty of good sense and sound observations therein.
Mike
 
Posts: 402
Joined: 01 Aug 2011, 11:08
Location: Australia

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