We need to stop referring to abuse as bullying and schools need to stop doing nothing about it

Picture this, if you will, as disturbing as it is: A woman sits in a hospital room with a fractured skull, broken jaw and leaking spinal fluid. Everyone knows who her attacker is but no one is doing anything. No arrests. No charges. The attacker is free to do as he pleases.

Make sense?

Well, the truth is that it wasn’t a woman. It was a 12 year old boy with Aspergers and his attacker was an older boy, in grade 8. Because this happened between kids in school and not adults, instead of being abuse, this is just bullying…. “just bullying”.

Wait, he has a fractured skull. He was almost killed. How is this “just bullying” when, if this was a grown man doing this to a grown woman, it would be abuse? or manslaughter? or attempted murder?

You can read about this in the news, although, it’s not easy to watch: http://www.cbs12.com/news/top-stories/stories/boy-aspergers-syndrome-hospitalized-after-bully-attacks-him-at-school-parents-23752.shtml?wap=0

You’d like to think that this is an isolated incident since we don’t read about this in the news every day but it’s not. This happens ALL. THE. TIME.

Let me break some of this down for you.

  • » 64 per cent of kids had been bullied at school.
  • » 12 per cent were bullied regularly (once or more a week).
  • » 13 per cent bullied other students regularly (once or more a week).
  • » 72 per cent observed bullying at school at least once in a while.
  • » 40 per cent tried to intervene.
  • » 64 per cent considered bullying a normal part of school life.
  • » 20-50 per cent said bullying can be a good thing (makes people tougher, is a good way to solve problems, etc.).
  • » 25-33 per cent said bullying is sometimes OK and/or that it is OK to pick on losers.
  • » 61-80 per cent said bullies are often popular and enjoy high status among their peers.

(Source: Centre For Youth Social Development, UBC Faculty of Education)

The core problem here is that bullying is very rarely, if ever, witnessed by a teacher. This means that even as a child is lying in a hospital bed, the only real ‘evidence’ anyone has to go on is a bully’s story versus a victim’s story. The school board “business heads” send a mandate down to the schools telling them that they can do nothing. They can’t make any statements, they can’t hand out any punishments. The most they can do is “investigate” which is to say, ask around and see if anyone else saw anything but none of that circumstantial hear-say really holds any weight either way anyway.

And so this becomes school yard bullying. A “normal part of school life” where both victims and the parents of the victims are powerless to stop or prevent it.

This is very similar to another phenomenon happening within hospitals around the world where doctors are having their hands tied while their administrators are forced to make decisions based on funding and stature. For example, several times in the past we’ve seen doctors refuse to do life saving procedures on good people with special needs based solely on the fact that they do have special needs and therefore, do not merit having their life saved versus someone else that might need the same procedure and does not have “anything wrong with them.”

Don’t believe that happens? I’ve written about it before.

A teacher that does nothing to stop bullying because of the rules from their administrators is in the exact same position as a doctor that does nothing to help save someone’s life because of their administrators. I don’t blame them… sort of.

Still though, I’m reminded of something that John Stuart Mill once said:

Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing.

I sit and watch as parent after parent on social media cries out for justice, that the bully be charged, expelled or much much worse. (“if it was my child that he did that too…“)
But nothing is done. Nothing will be done. Schools will continue to sit on their hands, unable to make statements, unable to stop it.

To the teachers, counsellors, principals and everyone else involved at the school level, please help us.

I get it. The administrators sitting at the top, they won’t let you do anything. But I’m calling on you to do something anyway.
This has to stop. Now.
And the schools are holding all the cards to do that.

Until the schools all step up to do something more than assemblies or “anti-bullying awareness campaigns”, this will continue to get worse and worse.

Maybe the school board tells you no. Maybe you will get fired for it.
But do something anyway. Because the next child to fall victim might be yours.

If the person that did the bullying is not to be blamed, then surely those that stood around and did nothing about it are.

When it’s a man and a woman and even when it’s a man and another man, this is abuse. But when it’s two children, it’s bullying.
We must stop looking at this way. Abuse is abuse. A human life is a human life. Let’s stop trying to make it sound like it’s not important just because it’s between children.

If a teacher can’t get away with breaking the skull of another teacher without consequences then a student should not be able to do it to another student.

Stop saying “just bullying” and let’s call it what it is. Abuse.
And let’s start treating it as such.


For more heart breaking statistics and information, please visit http://www.stopabully.ca/bullying-statistics.html

Einstein Quote

About Stuart Duncan

My name is Stuart Duncan, creator of http://www.stuartduncan.name. My oldest son (Cameron) has Autism while my younger son (Tyler) does not. I am a work from home web developer with a background in radio. I do my very best to stay educated and do what ever is necessary to ensure my children have the tools they need to thrive. I share my stories and experiences in an effort to further grow and strengthen the online Autism community and to promote Autism Understanding and Acceptance.

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6 Responses to We need to stop referring to abuse as bullying and schools need to stop doing nothing about it

  1. Patricia February 26, 2015 at 2:17 pm #

    It’s simple – if it happened to an adult and would generate a call to the police, getting fired, etc., then it’s abuse, or assault, or whatever. I am sick to high-heaven of the “kids will be kids” BS excuse. It needs to stop.

  2. Belenda February 26, 2015 at 4:48 pm #

    Bravo! My son is a target, has been since day one in public school. He has Aspergers, he stands out, he’s innocence and naive. The latest fight my husband and I are having with his school is why he receives consequences for reacting loudly to the verbal taunts from other students. His behaviors are punished when the perpetrators get away scot free. Another classic case of “zero tolerance” which helps the bullies and harms the victims. Zero tolerance in my book equates, if a teacher or administrator doesn’t see or hear the incident then obviously it didn’t occur. Same old same old, sick and tired of “same old.”

    • lillian gonzalez April 2, 2016 at 11:48 am #

      teachers who do nothing when they see a child being bulled is just as guilty as th bullier

  3. Mrs. A September 3, 2015 at 3:50 am #

    What about the teachers who are bullies? The first half of our son’s 2nd grade year he was terrorized by his teacher. A teacher who refused to offer him any classroom supports, belittled him in front of his peers, made fun of his writing ability (saying his writing was terrible and he wrote like a kindergartener), excluded him from fun classroom activities including field trips, made him stand with his nose against the wall, and made him practice walking in a perfect line during recess instead of enjoying recess time.
    We had a 504 for sensory and emotional/social issues which the teacher refused to follow. Our requests for meetings with the teacher were refused. And, every time we tried to engage in a discussion, the punishments to our child became worse. When we finally did meet it was only to complain about how our child should behave better in the classroom, and he didn’t intend to teach him any social/emotional skills because our son should already know them.
    Our son had nightmares, stopped talking about school, and asked repeatedly not to go. 3 months into the school year we were FINALLY able to change classrooms. The new teacher recommended an ASD evaluation, and we received his diagnoses before the school year ended.
    I feel like the only thing that helped our son was reminding him how brave and resilient he was, and how his teacher was wrong. We emphasized that the reason we were able move him out of this terrible situation is because he told us what was wrong and kept telling us what was wrong. We tell him he is an amazing kid and that we are proud that he tried his best every day and that he never gave up – and that he didn’t change who he is (kind, considerate, compassionate, a person with a giving soul).
    But, how do we protect him in the future? School hasn’t started yet (we have a late start this year), and he is so worried about seeing this teacher in the hallway. The teacher posted a rant at the end of the year that he was “quitting,” but he hasn’t officially resigned. So, he could be back. It kills me that I will have to send him into that kind of situation again – he’s just 8.

    • Carrie November 4, 2015 at 2:22 am #

      I don’t know where you are, but I’d go up the chain of command. Chances are you will get blown off because that’s what schools do, but eventually, I’d contact a TV station. I know some offer special segments on investigations…give the stations an earful. Schools do NOT want media attention AT ALL.

  4. Carrie November 4, 2015 at 2:17 am #

    And they are told not to do anything because they don’t want to be liability. PERIOD! Accountability is a scary word in a lawsuit happy society.

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