The ABC Family movie “Cyberbully”, which aired last week, made several points about Cyberbullying and it’s effects. , I spoke of the issue highlighted by the movie about parents protecting their children despite their behavior, instead of requiring them to treat their schoolmates with respect. This week, let’s take a look at the school’s point of view as portrayed in the movie, which by the way, I found to be pretty darn accurate.
In the movie, the mother of the girl who had attempted suicide as a result of being bullied, went to see the principal at her daughter’s school to try and understand how things could have been allowed to get so far out of hand. The principal lamented that there weren’t any laws on the books or mandates from the Board of Education “that had any teeth” in them with which he could punish those who engage in bullying activities.
Since when did we ever need a law on the books or policies from the Board of Education to teach our children about the very basics of treating each other with respect, dignity and humanity? Why does the principal need a mandate from the Board of Education to include, as a normal part of the curriculum, studies in respect, integrity, tolerance, honor, etc.? Why does the principal need a mandate from the Board of Education to create a culture in his school of mutual respect and civility?
The problem with this line of thinking, as characterized in the movie - “punish rather than prevent," is actually the problem with most parent’s parenting styles. The focus is on “how do we punish after the fact?” instead of the far more effective approach of, “how and what do we teach and role model to our children on a day-to-day basis that would prevent situations from happening in the first place?”
Parenting is about mentoring your children and teaching them the skills they need to survive and thrive in life. Most parents seem to think it’s about coming up with punishments to impose when their children make lousy choices – lousy choices that the child made, in most cases, because of lousy parenting.
They say the basics at school are reading, writing, and arithmetic, better known as the Three Rs. It seems to me that there has been more and more focus over the years on memorizing facts and figures and preparing children for standardized tests as dictated by the No Child Left Behind act. It seems to me that lots of children are getting left behind, even if they can read (which is not always the case). The focus on the Three R’s hasn’t seemed to get us very far socially, economically or globally.
There are subjects much more basic, and fundamentally important, than the Tree Rs. Concepts such as respect, integrity, responsibility, tolerance, losing with pride, winning with humility, have a far more lasting impact on children, and the world, than a child’s performance on standardized tests or memorization of facts. If we focused on those, the Three Rs would take care of themselves.