Why Schools Downplay Bullying? Know Their Side!
Written by: Meenakshi Joshi – M Sc
Last updated date : December 15, 2022
Coping with bullying (teens)
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Growing up we all have teased a friend. But it becomes a big thing when it starts playing on our minds. Bullying is seen in schools. But it has been noted that it is not reported as much as it should be. So, why do teachers ignore bullying? And why do schools downplay bullying?
Bullying at School
Growing up you must have seen bullying at school. As a child, you might have gone through it yourself. For example, a new kid in school can be an easy target of the other kids in his class. Bullies may endlessly tease a younger kid who might be low on confidence or who has some learning or speech problem.
Do schools downplay bullying?
You would feel that if bullying is such a common issue at school, then the school must be doing something about it. Or do schools just downplay bullying? Are schools and teachers ignoring this issue?
To deal with bullying, some schools have programs and rules that stop or punish bullies. You will see anti-bullying slogans out on the school notice boards. Also, the school might put out the official “no tolerance” statements against bullying. However, these might not be effective in preventing or dealing with the problem.
The general outlook of the school is to focus on academics and a child’s skill development. The school wants to get the best results from its students. They want kids to shine in academic competitions, sports meets, science fairs, and other such events. Success at these events showcases the merits of the school.
However, in the race to be the best and outshine other schools, the focus of the school and the teacher can be only on brighter students and achievers. And the school might downplay or not focus on issues, such as bullying at all. Or it is possible that they just do not know how to deal with such social and psychological issues as bullying.
Why Do Schools Downplay Bullying?
Most of the time, teachers ignore bullying. Also, schools try to downplay bullying. There could be several reasons behind this.
1. Teachers are too busy
Teachers ignore bullying because they are too busy. In many schools, teachers play multiple roles. They not only teach their subjects but have added administrative responsibilities. Also, they may be head or in charge of certain activities or groups at school.
When you consider all these roles, you can imagine that the teacher’s day is packed. They might barely get any time to do anything else. They may be struggling to keep up with these duties. Additionally, they too are under tremendous pressure to meet deadlines.
So, if you look at all these issues, then you can conclude that someone who is so overwhelmed with their work might not have the time to get into things that are not these duties. Hence, a teacher might feel that there is something wrong with a kid. Also, he/she might be a witness to an incident but they do not take it up.
2. Teachers do not know about bullying
Another reason why a teacher might ignore bullying is that they do not know that bullying is happening in the class. Schools downplay bullying because they may be ignorant about it.
The kids who bully others do not act in that manner in public. They do not bully someone in class when the teacher is present. They can be smart about when to bully. Also, the kids who are bullied are scared. They have low self-confidence and might be afraid of the bully. So, they may not speak up about such issues.
So, overall there is a lack of awareness that bullying exists in their school for the teachers, administrators, parents, and staff. And if you do not know about something how will you fix it!
3. Teachers are not sure what to do
At times, the teacher might see that a kid is teasing another kid and the teasing is really bad. The kid who is being teased is very disturbed by this. The kid who is a bully has no shame or regret for his actions. However, teachers would still ignore this bullying. Why so? Because she/he does not know what to do about it!
Teachers are not trained to handle such situations. They may be ignorant about many aspects of bullying
- they may not be able to identify that this is bullying
- if it is, then they might not know how to control or stop it
- they may be unaware of the effects of bullying
- they might not know what the rules and procedures are to report bullying
4. Schools downplay bullying so what can teachers do!
You know that schools nowadays have a strict rule against bullying. But they do not follow it strictly. You might see such rules and policies discussed at a school meeting or published in their bulletins. You might even see posters about bullying. They may tell about how bad bullying is. They talk about what is bullying, what to do if you came across it, how to deal with it, etc.
However, many schools might downplay bullying. They do not report it. They do not want to say that their school has had incidences like these. School authorities feel that reporting such instances might harm the reputation of their school. They fear the bad name their school will get if people come to know about such things.
Hence, the teacher feels helpless and is not motivated to report bullying. Even if they do report, the school does not take any action against the bully. Moreover, the school might put the burden of handling the situation on the teacher.
Some schools might even ask teachers to ignore bullying. This can further make the teachers feel disinterested in reporting or handling bullying cases.
5. Teachers feel that the kids should deal with it on their own!
Teachers or educators who are a bit old-school or who have traditional thinking might feel that bullying is just another thing a child has to go through to become tough. They feel that it is okay that a child is bullied. The bully is just trying to show his confidence. He is not doing anything wrong. He is a strong and aggressive kid.
On the other hand, the child who has to undergo bullying is being weak and needs to toughen up. They feel that the bully is making the younger kid strong.
These educators feel that “kids will be kids” and such bullying and other things are just a part of how kids grow up and learn to be adults and face challenging situations. Schools downplay bullying because kids need to learn to deal on their own. They need to develop methods to face such situations and overcome them.
6. “I want to help but what can I do alone”!
A teacher might want to help. They may even try to help given their limited resources. But if the school or other teachers do not support or work with such teachers, their efforts will go to waste.
Everyone involved has to be on board to deal with bullying effectively. Cases where the schools downplay bullying but the teachers are active or where the teachers ignore bullying despite the school wanting to stop it will not be effective.
In the end, a single person can effect change. He/she can make a change but to be more effective everyone needs to work towards a common goal. However, no one wants to take ownership or responsibility for these things.
Bullying is a complex problem and needs time and effort. Dealing with bullying means working with the child who is bullied and the child who does the bullying. It may take a lot is time to counsel and work with all the kids involved. It might also mean talking to the parents and friends of such kids. So, you need to work together with all involved parties to deal with bullying and stop this harmful practice from existing in schools.
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