Monday, December 12, 2011

Bullying, Do as I Say, Not as I Do

Bullying is something that practically everyone has experienced at some point in their lifetime.  It might have been the elementary school blustering bully who was more sound and fury, but like the character in The Christmas Story ran from the first kid who stood up to him.  It might have the been the High School bully who had created an image for his underlings which he tried desperately to maintain by striking out at anyone he believed was weaker.  Or it might have been a workplace bully, who manipulated through intimidation and fear for your job.  It is a flaw in human nature that civil society demands and must control for the safety and liberty of every citizen, young or old.

Recently articles have been written showing how schools are now starting up programs to fight Schoolyard Bullying, as in an article on the Patch
Talk of bullying often conjures up an image of a big kid—with lackeys in tow—pushing over a smaller kid on the playground while yelling something mean, but the word encompasses a much broader group of hurtful actions, said Cheryl Greene, a bullying prevention specialist working with School District 622.
The article also references actions taken by Governor Mark Dayton in forming a task force to address School Bullying
“Bullying causes severe suffering and harm to the children, who are its victims; and we must do more to stop it.  Children and parents in Minnesota should have confidence that their schools are safe places for learning and are free of harm or intimidation.  The work of this Task Force is critical to ensuring that a healthy and nurturing school environment exists for every child in our state,” said Governor Dayton.
Bullying and its prevention is completely about character.  The bully is an example of undeniably poor character, an example that can only be changed by development of moral character.  Moral development cannot be instilled in children if we do not practise it ourselves.  This was one of the few things in the public discussion a few years ago about “It Takes A Village” that was universally agreed to.

"Do as I Say, Not as I Do" or Raising Kids with Moral Intelligence
In his book, The Moral Lives of Children, Dr. Robert Coles defines our conscience as our "moral intelligence." More simply, he defines moral intelligence as how we behave—"moral behavior tested by life, lived out in the course of our everyday existence."
PBS NewsHour's David Gergen interviewed Coles several years ago and asked him how to encourage morality in our students, our children, and ourselves. Coles told Gergen that adults can only teach values by living them. "I'm trying insist upon for myself as a parent and a teacher and for all of us, that any lesson offered a child in an abstract manner that isn't backed up by deed is not going to work very well," Coles said. "We live out what we presumably want taught to our children. And our children are taking constant notice, and they're measuring us not by what we say but what we do."
With the recognition and urgency of how we want to protect children in our school system and our society, why does it seem so foreign in our political discourse?  If we practice bullying of those who we do not agree with ideologically, are we not setting an example of acceptance for bullying?  It can be as simple as continual ridicule of others, as purported by Alinsky’s Rule Number 5 in his Rules for Radicals 
Rule 5: Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon. It’s hard to counterattack ridicule, and it infuriates the opposition, which then reacts to your advantage.
or in his Rule 11, on personal destruction
Rule 11: Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, polarize it. Don’t try to attack abstract corporations or bureaucracies. Identify a responsible individual. Ignore attempts to shift or spread the blame.
However the inescapable result of following such recommendations is what we see in the the plight of a teacher in Wisconsin.  She voiced her conscience and courageously acted on it, but has received a avalanche of bullying in return.

Union Radicals Harass Teacher Who Dared to Support Wisconsin Governor Walker
We suppose that’s not terribly surprising for a group that has to force its members to join.

Still, it’s troubling to hear that Kristi LaCroix, the courageous public school teacher who had the guts to film a television ad supporting Gov. Scott Walker’s reforms, is being harassed by union zealots to the point where she wants to change careers.
LaCroix, who teaches at Lakeview Technology Academy in the Kenosha school district, recently posted the following on her Facebook page, according a news story from WISN 1130:
“Going through and deleting my daily amount of hate mail that is sent to my work email. I have now been assured, by one of the emails (all of which I forward to my Principal) that there is an online movement called ‘Fire Kristi‘ where they are going to email, post and talk to everyone (telling) millions of stories to ruin my reputation, career and life.

So when the kids see this example played out before them, does it teach them that bullying is wrong and not to be tolerated?  Or does it guarantee defeat for the goals of creating an effective anti-bullying culture in schools. We have a broader mission than what a task force will address to correct the “do as I say not as I do” method of moral lessons.

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