Thoughts on Bullying (UK/GEN) - Long !
Ian Ford (ianford@DIRCON.CO.UK)
Sun, 18 Dec 1994 12:57:32 GMT
Hi Richard ..
Richard Ickler wrote in reply to John Oakes :
>I am a little concerned about this approach. On the surface it seems like
>very effective approach but there is a problem. Have you thought about wh
>you will do when someone comes along (and it is almost guaranteed that
>someone will) and decides he is going to take on that "bad looking dude"?
>that point you have to make a decision whether you're going to deal with i
>nonviolently or whether you're going to back up the threat. That is the
>hidden side of trying to solve the bully problem with intimidation. If yo
>use the implied threat of violence you have to be prepared to back it up a
>don't think that is what we want to teach our scouts.
I can't find my dictionary of quotations, but I think it was President
Truman who said " talk softly and carry a big stick . "
The point I made in my original post is that most bullies seek " soft "
targets - the chances are if the victim resists they will most likely go and
find somebody else to pick on. But you are right ; John's bluff <may> be
called. I personally don't have a problem with the doctrine of self defence
using minimum appropriate force.
A few years ago we had a kid in 25th Greenwich who was causing a lot of
problems, bullying the younger kids and being generally disruptive.
Counselling by the Scoutmaster, chats with the parents, threats of
suspension etc. did not work.
Then after a night when he had been particularly obnoxious the Patrol
Leaders' Council decided they had had enough. One of the PLs was fifteen ,
6'2" and about 185 lbs - quite a large lad. From what the adults heard
several months later he called round to see the kid and suggested very
gently that if he came back to the troop he would receive some
extra-curricular attitude adjustment therapy in a dark corner of the
schoolyard. Strangely enough the bully discovered another pressing
commitment on his Wednesday nights and resigned from the troop.
Maybe not the most scientific approach, but it meant that we retained our
ten year-old Scouts who were on the verge of leaving , and recovered some
who had actually left.
I'm not sure that I would condone , far less recommend this solution to the
problem , but it did result in a far happier troop. Sometimes we have to
accept that keeping a disruptive and violent kid in the troop is just not
possible. I think peer pressure had a far greater impact than formal
disciplinary procedures. BTW - Several of his younger brothers are still in
the Group and are doing well.
RI> Please don't misunderstand me - I'm still looking for a better answer
> myself and I've been very lucky. I have never had to deal with serious
> bullying. Still I really think that before we use any approach we have
> to think about how it can go wrong and what happens if it doesn't work.
Agreed. I too would like to see a better solution. But as I have said in
another context , we are not child guidance therapists , just youth leaders
trying to do a difficult job. There comes a point at which we have to say
that some kids have too many problems to fit in to a Scout troop. When the
" good " kids start to leave because the " bad " kids are out of control
we need to make some hard decisions. I can take a lot of stuff from kids,
but violent and abusive behaviour is something I will <not> tolerate.
Likewise, when Scouts are subject to abuse in School or whatever we need to
assure them of our support , whether it is by a physical presence in John's
case , or by counselling and advising them , intervening with the relevant
authorities ( if the Scout consents) or whatever it takes.
In the case of my Scout who was beaten up at at school the school
authorities do not seem to have been overly energetic in identifying and
punishing those involved. It would appear that kids can commit criminal
assault in school with relative immunity , because the school authorities
will not bring in the police or welfare agencies except in the very last
resort. In some cases elsewhere schools have refused to co-operate with
police investigations where victims' parents have filed private
Often this is a way to avoid recognising that " the system " allows
inadequate teachers to operate without proper professional and managerial
supervision. It is also avoids the issue that to provide psychological
support to violent and antisocial kids in special units costs money , and
often the funding is not available. So the problem is just ignored and the
offenders are kept in mainstream classes causing maximum disruption.
Sometimes an offence outside school means that it becomes a problem for the
juvenile justice system to deal with.
For many kids there is no discipline at home and very little in school.
A lot of kids are well educated in their " rights " if in nothing else, and
can give the finger to the system in the knowledge that the adults are
virtually powerless to react.
I had a kid who I threw out of my old Scout Group for violent behaviour -
the father was an alcoholic and thoroughly unpleasant. He resisted any
attempt to discipline his kids , maintaining that their aggressive and
antisocial behaviour was " self defence " to "victimisation " by the
schools , social services , Scouting , the soccer club or whatever. The kid
was totally unmanageable , because he knew however outrageous his behaviour
the parent would back him against authority. I was subject to verbal abuse
and threats of physical violence from theb father, and was on the point of
getting the Scout Association's legal department to apply to a Court for a
non-mollestation injunction when he turned his attention to somebody else.
Fortunately I had everything doccumented and in the hands of Legal
department at Headquarters. But it could have proved very interesting.
Ah well ... time to climb down from the soapbox ...
Very best wishes for Christmas and the New Year.
Ian N Ford | email@example.com
Asst Group Scout Leader, 25th Greenwich scout Group &
ASM , BSA Troop 401, American School in London , England
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City