A recent article by Gina Burgess, "Bullying is torture at school," brought home some extreme examples harassment, hazing, bullying and torture. But even more, there was a wonderful example of how to stop bullies in their tracks. I agree with the methods used in the school.
I notice that in all the cases cited (and in most others I know about) the adults did not do their jobs. They knew what was going on, but they allowed lawless individuals and gangs to control the school or the school bus. Whenever the legitimate authorities leave a vacuum, the most vicious and brutal people will try to take over. Remember the book by William Golding, "Lord of the Flies," where the children were on the island without adults to help set high standards.
I especially appreciate that the article didn’t end with descriptions of different bullying tactics or with psychoanalysis about why bullies do it. It ended where it should end: with an example of adults taking charge and stopping the bullying. And it’s not that hard for administrators who are dedicated to stopping bullying.
The administrators simply separated the freshman from the upper classmen, told upper classmen and freshmen what the acceptable standards of behavior were and what was not allowed, and assigned teachers to watch and work with groups of students. Then they acted swiftly and firmly if there was an incident.
Bullies have always existed and will always exist. We must prepare ourselves and our children to act skillfully and effectively. We can do that as a society (laws, culture) and as individuals.
In my coaching, consulting, books and CDs on how to stop bullies in their tracks at home, in school and at work, I always focus on stopping bullies before trying to help therapeutize them. Help the victims first. If the legitimate authorities won’t act, you as a parent must still protect your children, work to replace the failing principals or move to a school district where the authorities act courageously and firmly.