Wednesday, March 06, 2013

A Bit Too Far

Check out what a bill in the Minnesota legislature would define as "bullying" in schools:
Examples of bullying may include, but are not limited to, conduct that:
places an individual in reasonable fear of harm to person or property, including through intimidation;
has a detrimental effect on the physical, social, or emotional health of a student;
interferes with a student’s educational performance or ability to participate in educational opportunities;
encourages the deliberate exclusion of a student from a school service, activity, or privilege;
creates or exacerbates a real or perceived imbalance of power between students;
violates the reasonable expectation of privacy of one or more individuals; or
relates to the actual or perceived race, ethnicity, color, creed, religion, national origin, immigration status, sex, age, marital status, familial status, socioeconomic status, physical appearance, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, academic status, disability, or status with regard to public assistance, age, or any additional characteristic defined in chapter 363A of a person or of a person with whom that person associates, but the conduct does not rise to the level of harassment.

Seriously?  I'll bet I know who gets to define if a statement "has a detrimental effect on the...emotional health of a student"--and that would be the so-called victim!  Turning someone down for a date could affect the emotional health of a student....

I don't know when "bullying" became the "Cause of the Day", but laws like this are definitely out of hand. Now don't be hyperbolic and suggest that I think comments or actions that would violate the above are entirely reasonable and should be encouraged, as doing so would be creating the straw-est of straw men.  I'm merely suggesting that sometimes people say things that hurt your feelings, and while it's not nice, we shouldn't make a pariah out of them by branding them with the scarlet letter B.


Anonymous said...

What is kinda amazing about the way our society is approaching bullying is that:
(a) we are defining more and more things like ostracism as bullying. Today if Mindy and Sara don't want to play with Kaylee it might be bullying. And ...
(b) Beating someone to death *might* be bullying. Or maybe not.

The 12-year old in Pennsylvania who died a few days ago "may have been bullied."

Not playing with someone: bullying.
Beating them up so that they died: maybe bullying.


-Mark Roulo

momof4 said...

Groupwork is now pervasive in school, starting in kindergarten, and I would say that it is highly likely to "create or exacerbate a real or perceived imbalance of power between students"; the most socially adept or socially powerful kids are handed a school-approved platform to reinforce their status. The shy, the quiet and the "different" (often spec ed)are now exposed to the same shunning or bullying they are likely to face on the playground; because kids, especially in groups, are not inherently kind. Particularly at ES-MS levels, teachers are unlikely to see problems, because the "top" kids are likely to be "teacher-pleasers."

I agree, the definition of bullying is now vastly over-expanded, but working in groups only makes the real thing (emotional, not physical) more likely.

maxutils said...

To be bullying ... it's got to be a uniform pattern of occurrences. Any one incident, by any one student, is not bullying. I was bullied in Jr. High, and it was a large number of people who would regularly punch me as I walked through the halls ... because a) I was heavy for my age, and b) had a better sense of humor than they did, and s they thought I was 'weird'. I solved it the old fashioned way: I fought the lead bully. I got my ass kicked, but ... problem solved. No more bullying -- and I didn't get suspended, because every one saw I didn't throw the first punch. Try that, these days. If a student can document regular abuse ... then okay, it's bullying. But any one instance? Please...

Ellen K said...

Bullying has always been a fact of life. I know I was bullied as the new kid in school since my family moved a great deal. It automatically made me suspicious of others and not too concerned about cliques except as a matter of observation. My daughter went through a horrible time of exclusion for daring to choose dance over cheerleading as a fifth grader. At that point I did ask for teachers to intervene as it was becoming a situation where she was being stalked and attacked outside of school. No child should be afraid of being at school. But there are also situations where children provoke confrontations and then like to point at others as the cause. There's no really good answer to this, but I do think that our policies on hate crimes have made it where the same exact incidents are treated differently depending on the race and gender of the perpetrators and victims.