Today I read an article about bullying that leaves me outraged. It’s about a towns ‘war’ on gay teens… and even if this weren’t a town only a few miles west of me…. it absolutely adds further fuel to my claims that the public school system in the U.S. is broken!!!
I encourage you to give it a read (as the response that follows won’t make as much sense without knowing what I’m talking about) but be warned… if you are a thinking, loving human being it’s bound to piss you off.
Because you see, this school district, in the political hands of some homophobes, put in place a ridiculous policy that no one knew how to interpret… but has resulted in many, many teen suicides. And a bunch of supposed educators trying to pass the buck rather than assume responsibility for allowing an inexcusable climate of intolerance to blossom, are so worried about their jobs that they are willing to push vulnerable teens into the abyss.
I have dozens of questions – like, What will really solve this problem? How would you respond if your child is being bullied at school? If you don’t have a child in the public schools do you feel any kind of responsibility for these things going on?
With all of the buzz online and in schools about bullying, why does it persist? Why is it tolerated? What would not tolerating it look like? And finally… Why aren’t teens and their parents choosing alternatives when their complaints to the officials at the local public schools are met with indifference… or worse?!?
What do we, as guardians to our young, need to be teaching them about taking care of themselves? As I recall who and what I was as a teenager, even a very young teen… I know I would have left school before I tolerated the level of abuse that kids are tolerating today. Am I so different? What makes them stay there and take it… and continue taking it until they feel so hopeless that they choose to take their own life?
My heart hurts for them… and yet I’m feeling angry that we have gone so off course that we seem to have thrown the door wide open to some crazy dynamic here. This dance can’t take place without someone willing to play bully to someone willing to play ‘victim of bully’ — both roles seem ugly and crazy to me. So what really needs changing here?
Frankly, I think the collapse of this broken school system would be a good start. Imagine a world where kids are self-directed learners. Communities could rally together with businesses opening their doors to kids interested in learning more about what goes on there. Strengths coming to the forefront as kids discover their passions, which could ignite a fire under them to learn more and gain skills.
We have got to STOP thinking that kids won’t learn without our direction. That’s sheer nonsense! There are far too many home schoolers and unschoolers thriving right this minute for that claim to hold any water, not to mention the fact that human beings grew, expanded, evolved and continuously learning long before anyone conceived on a public school system.
And maybe… just maybe… while we set them free to learn what and how they choose, we could also guide them toward being proud of themselves and finding their own inner power and guidance no matter what!
Encouraging our children to go for the best… while refusing to tolerate the worst, might just be the best gift of all.
Feel free to share your thoughts… a real dialogue has to begin somewhere.