Thursday, April 01, 2010

Understanding the "anti-bullying" process

The revelation that a six year old girl suffered sexual and physical abuse over a sustained period at the hands of her class mates in a Welsh school should, quite rightly, send shivers of shock and revulsion through every parents spine.

How can such a thing happen in a British school today?

Well, although I am as shocked as anyone, I am not the least bit surprised. I've had some experience of the modern school "anti-bullying" processes and I can tell you that their priorities are not what you might think. The first thing to recognise is that the process is not designed to identify the bullies or, even if it inadvertently does, punish anyone. The whole process is designed to make sure that everyone in authority has their backside covered and can not be blamed.

In terms of "concern" the priorities run something like this ...

Top comes the school, then the head teacher, then the department head, then individual teachers, then the bullies and finally - getting the least consideration in the process - the victim.

It's vital to understand that if you are to understand the modern way of dealing with bullying. The point is not to deal with bullying, but to demonstrate that the school "takes bullying seriously" and has "robust" procedures. Ultimately, the point of a school's anti-bullying process is to demonstrate that the school does not have a bullying problem.

Consequently, low level bullying goes on without censure or punishment and gradually ramps up over time until something like the incident at the top of this post happens - at which point the regional authority process kicks in and we hear that "lessons have been learned".

And most of the time it is the victim who is punished by being forced to find a new school and make new friends while the bullies - and those who allowed it to happen in the first place - continue as if nothing has happened.

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