Life in a family of nine neurodiverse individuals: How we do it, why we do what we do, helping you do it too. "What lies behind us and what lies before us are small matters, compared to what lies within us." - Oliver Wendall Holmes
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
@sshats, Douchebaggery, and Bullying
I have a lot of kids. Seven is a lot these days. All kids go through tough times in the society known as school, and growing up. But...today, I'm writing about bullies. I've been reading an article about a girl who posted nasty things on her YouTube account about another girl in her grade, and the father not only fought her suspension from school in court, but he insisted that his daughter leave the video in question on YouTube. To most of us, this is sublimely ridiculous. His argument is "free speech" - my argument is "hostile environment". Certainly, the girl is entitled to free speech. But is she entitled to go ahead and make vicious statements about a classmate?
I know a couple of my kids have truly hated school and dreaded going following a snide or thoughtless comment. I can't imagine it was any easier for the girl maligned on YouTube.
The father "would not allow" his daughter to take the video off YouTube, though the daughter offered to. His argument is that the school was wrong in suspending his daughter for off-campus behavior. While this may be true, there is something that the school can and should do. Get policies in place. If there is an instance of cyberbullying that comes to their attention, the parents (of both bullied and bully) should get (at a minimum) a phone call, as that will make it easier for parents to exert their influence on the bully, and for the parents of the bullied to affect a treatment plan for anxieties caused by said bullying.
I am all in favor of the schools not meddling in our private lives. That being said, the private life affects the educational life, as we all know. Trauma in one area of life often affects another. And being bullied is traumatic, particularly to peer-dependent, socially anxious teenagers, whether they be neurotypical or disabled in one area or another.
However, the Minnesota State High School League provides a bit of recourse, at least against bullies involved in extra-curriculars. The students who participate in MSHSL activities must, each year sign a statement of behavior that is not allowed, including drugs, alcohol, tobacco, and the like. ALSO...they are suspended from said extra-curriculars for behaviors such as harassment, poor sportsmanship, etc. I think the YouTube video would qualify as harassment, at the very least. While the school itself does not suspend said students, the High School League prohibits their practice and playing in games of the extra-curriculars such as sports, Speech, Choir (though choir gets weird since it's co-curricular - only prohibited from public performances), Drama, etc. Since the contract is signed by both parent and student, it does, indeed cover off-campus behavior as well as on-campus, including the students' freetime.
Although the father won the case, and perhaps he should have, regarding the school suspension, it is his failure to address whether his daughter's actions were ethical, moral, or just that frankly bothers me. They weren't.
I'm a mother of seven, ages 22 to 6. They all have special needs of one variety or another, hence my interest in parent advocacy.
Despite special needs, every child has their own needs, and all children have some things in common. You will find here rants, raves, excitement, tears... things all parents go through. You will also find acronyms that special needs parents know, as do the professionals that work with our children. My hope and my goal is to provide experience, strength, and hope, as well to learn from comments and receive your experience strength and hope.
I don't have all the answers, but between us, we can find them!