Renegade's Guide - Blog #9
by James Gavsie
It's that time of year again! Our kids are going back to School. Friends are re-united, new friends are made, and the social setting of our educational facilities is re-ignited. As parents, we go forward with a lot of Hope. Hope that is based on some basic assumptions.
If you take a second to think about it you realize that there are actually a great deal of assumptions parents make. We would like to assume that our kids are going back to school with other kids from families who share our values. We would like to assume that our kids will be in a safe learning environment. We REALLY want to assume that our kids will be benefitting from a good (hopefully great) education. As a parent myself I get it.
However, there is one assumption that is made that is completely wrong. It's an assumption that has been made by literally MILLIONS of parents. It is an assumption that I am certain has existed for well over fifty years, probably a whole lot more. It's an assumption that has unintentionally contributed to the misery, depression, and angst that countless students have experienced. The good news is that in this day and age of social media we have the ability to educate the masses and remove this assumption once and for all!
What is it? What is this one assumption parents make about our children that is so catastrophic? Well, here it is:
Parents ASSUME that schools can handle bullying.
To elaborate, parents assume schools have all the tools necessary, including the willingness and desire, to fight bullying.
This assumption is completely false. In fact, I would put this assumption up there with other popular myths such as Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster, and Obama Care.
Our schools are designed to provide a structured education for our children. Additionally, schools may also offer after school programs, (somewhat) healthy lunches, and enrichment programs. When I take a step back and objectively look at the overall operation of an average public school I'm pretty amazed at the value it provides. Your typical public school really does a lot for the kids that attend. Add in the countless heartwarming stories of teachers going above and beyond for their students and you can surely see my point that our public schools are an amazing gift for our children. They do so much for so very little in return.
And there's the problem. Our schools do more than they can. They do much more than they were designed to do. However, combatting bullying is NOT something our public schools were ever designed for. This is a FACT!
So what do we do now that we know the truth? The first thing is to stop placing blame with the school in case your child is bullied. The second thing is to realize that YOU, the parent, bears the real responsibility to take action. It still amazes me to hear parents say that they hope their child won't be exposed to bullying. The reality is that they will be exposed to it, and most likely already have been. Anticipation of the inevitable is the key.
Let's replace our misplaced assumption about schools and bullying with another one. How about this?
No one cares as much about the welfare of my child as I do. 'I' being you, the parent.
I'm pretty sure we can all agree with this, right? Armed with this assumption parents should now also see the other truth, namely that they should be the ones who champion the anti-bullying campaign for their kids. In association with their school, that is.
There's a great expression in the fight game that directly applies to bullying at school; 'Don't leave the fight to the judges'. To translate, a fighter who doesn't finish his or her opponent in the match risks having the judges award the fight to their opponent. The fighter has to make sure they definitively win because if no winner is decided in the match the judges may, for some reason, pick the other fighter as the winner. In other words, the judges may pick a less than desirable result.
As parents, we are the proverbial fighters. If we leave the anti-bullying efforts our children need to the school and its administration we run the risk of having a less than desirable outcome for our kids. We need to take charge, work with the school, and help our children resolve the issue. One of the things I hear the most from frustrated parents of bullied children is that the school does either very little or sometimes absolutely nothing to fix the bullying problem.
To these parents I say that the school has hundreds of kids they need to serve and that their child is not, and cannot be, their top priority. Additionally, their school is probably already taking on more than it can handle.
We can't leave our child's bullying problems in the hands of the school. Assuming that the school can effectively and efficiently deal with bullying is absurd at best, disastrous at worst. Sure, I've seen some schools that have created amazing mechanisms and social responsibility amongst their student body that has made bullying into a small to non-issue. However, in my mind, those schools are the exception that prove the rule.
By the way, how do you think good schools would respond to parents getting involved and taking action in a responsible way to help with their child's bullying problems? If a parent were to take action and work WITH the teachers and administration the school would be THRILLED!
Remember, assumptions in general can be dangerous if we misinterpret them as fact. I live by another fun expression that says when you assume you may make an 'ass' out of 'u' and 'me'. When it comes to my kids, I avoid making assumptions that could prove detrimental. I highly recommend that you do the same.
Founder of Max Impact Martial Arts
A.K.A. James Gavsie, author of the soon to be released book "The Renegade's Guide to Stopping Bullies"
Follow me on Twitter @jamesgavsie