Tuesday, May 8, 2012

How to Stand Up to Bullies…And Get Expelled

How to Stop Bullying in Schools

How to stop bullying in schools is not easy. What do educators do when students feel that they have to defend themselves?
image courtesy of cnn.com

We have talked about students’ need to have a secure learning environment, and we have discussed understanding bully mentality. Deia Sanders, a master teacher, even showed us how she turned bullies around in her school.

But what recourse do students have when they still don’t feel safe?

This 17-year-old student took matters into his own hands, as reported by CNN. And there exists a terrible connotation behind the words “took matters into his own hands”—we seem to think less of a billionaire philanthropist spending his nights as a masked vigilante, and we seem to think more of street gangs and violence. But when a student feels that he or she has two options—suffer physical harm, or stand your ground when the odds are four to one—who is really to blame?

Of course we cannot condone bringing weapons to school, so the administration is forced to expel the student. But by expelling the student, the administration plays right into the hands of the bullies. And if the bullies feel like they have the support—or control—of the administration, then who is to stop them from picking more targets?

I realize that this post poses more questions than it does answers. That is why I would love to hear your comments. This is a problem that is not going to go away. So what can we do about it?

Leaving comments is now easier than ever. Let’s hear your side.


  1. The non-professional side of me think it would be just fine if a kid bullying an LGBT kid got "stunned." Stun away. But as a professional in an education-related field, and cannot think that way. I can't see that the LGBT student has any options. Legally, he is required to attend school. Since school bullying is allowed--and since the harassing of LGBT youth is often violent and deadly--it seems his only option for attending class was to arm himself, and he went with an option that would not injure anyone.

    I agree that weapons can't be allowed on school grounds. So what's the option? I advocate zero-tolerance for bullying. How about a panel of sorts--maybe consisting of teachers, students, and community members--that would hear about each reported instance of bullying. If the panel determines that the bullying is genuine, the student(s) is/are expelled. No 3 strikes. One, you're gone. I think one problem is that administrations have created an environment in which bullying is acceptable. When they don't act or there are no real consequences for the bullies, the message is clear.

    1. A provocative response, Elisa. Thank you for your feedback. As has been discussed in earlier posts on proxy bullying, do you think it would be possible on such a panel for a bully to implicate an innocent classmate and get the classmate expelled for no reason?

      I bring this up not as a detraction, but rather as a way to further explore such an idea.