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., 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.

We're all in this together,



  1. While that father never admitted he did naything wrong, the best prt was in the end a rabbi wrote in and gave him what for. Unfortunatly we know where that child learned her ill mnnered behavior. As I have always said, bullies ar emade not born and it is the parents fault and they should be held accountable. Also whether that fathr liked it or not, jstu because one trila judge said that it was an issue of free speech, there are Consitutioal law cases where freedom of speech is curtailed for the greater good, and children in school have less rights than in the "real world" to begin with.Not all trial judges know what they are doing and quite possibly because of the father's connection to the film/record industry the judge could have been star struck or quite frankly maybe the judge is an asshat too.

  2. Takes one to know one, I think you're right Elise.

  3. The Rabbis teach that the Creator brought the universe into existence with words: And G-d said "Let there be light," and there was light. And so forth, for six days. Thus, words have ultimate power. I did not see the Rabbi's comments to this father, but I suspect they were rooted in this philosophy (which I share).