Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Who Should Take Responsibility for Bullying?

How to Stop Bullying in Schools

Call me crazy, but I don't believe the responsibility falls on the shoulders of teachers. So is it administration? Parents? Society? Media? No. In fact, it's perhaps the last place that we look.

How to stop bullying in schools--when children take responsibility for their actions, everything changes.
A Dubai journalist recently covered the tragedy of an 11-year-old girl who was hospitalized by four boys who bullied and beat her. And at whom does the journalist point the finger?

The parents.

And my gut reaction is to agree. I grew up with parents who were not shy when it came time to discipline; therefore, I have always been inclined to look down on parents who, in my mind, were afraid to tell their child no. Now that I am a father of a child who truly is perfect (and at 3 months old, there's not much that he willfully do wrong besides spit up on my tie), I can understand now why parents can be, well, stupid about their kids.

But the journalist was ultimately wrong.

Because we've all either been the willful child or had the willful child (or both). Do parents contribute to and even encourage bullying, either directly or indirectly? Yes. There is actually very little in a child's life that we couldn't blame for bullying and misbehavior. Economics, neighborhood, movies, video games, peers, parents, and yes, even teachers. Each so-called "factor" has something valid to contribute to the mix. But all too often we forget that the first victim of bullying and the person responsible are often one and the same:

The child.

Who here is tired of hearing the words "they made me do it"? I understand that there are mitigating and contributing circumstances; but I am also one who says that if a child does not own up to his or her actions, then misbehavior will be a chronic episode in every aspect of that child's life. We can try to find all of the other symptoms in the world, but we must stop blaming everything else for a person's decision.

And therein lies the most important factor of bullying and perhaps even of life in general: we cannot make excuses for ourselves. After all the circumstances are listed--and there are many--and all the reasons examined--and they are certainly valid--do we finish by excusing every behavior and assigning responsibility to inanimate and unworthy factors like socioeconomics?

I submit that we would teach far more important things to our children by helping them take responsibility for their own actions than by using external factors as scapegoats (I am waiting for bullying to be classified as an illness). When children learn to take responsibility for their own actions, they will learn to be masters of themselves. And when teach children to take responsibility for their actions, we teach them that they can be anything they want to be--because they are choosing every day to be the person they are.

Perhaps there is no "cure" for bullying; but perhaps a strong antidote, if you will, is simply to believe (and then act on the belief) that children possess the potential to be far greater tomorrow than they are today. Isn't that why they are in school in the first place?


  1. Agree. Families are responsible. In extreme cases the school or police should be involved if the complaining party has good evidence of the incident so they can act. We are in Generation Text and most of the evidence a bullying child plans or does is done by text with their co-conspirators. So families, get your children to archive texts, then if they're attacked or accused of attacking you know which direction to point the finger. Two important factors: Do it so you or your child cannot manipulate or delete certain messages. And don't betray the trust with your child because they will use communication methods off the radar. ParentingPride is an app that independently archives the CONTENT of texts because cell companies don't. It saves the deleted texts from the phone as well as the when, where and to whom your child texts. If you or your child feel bullying has occurred this smartphone app allows you to produce the transcript so the referee can make the right call.

  2. When a babysitter supervises your children, are they responsible for their safety? Or is it your child and every other child/person around who assumes responsibility, for some reason excluding the you are excluding the teachers.
    Kids are not adults, they can't be held to responsibilities appropriate for the adults who are supervising them. Kids are also legally obliged to attend schools, separated from their parents. So who are the responsible adults here? You can't seriously blame the kids ?? I won't be sending my kids to your school.