US school provides worst bullying advice ever

The handout the students were given. Source: Jezebel
The handout the students were given. Source: Jezebel 

When I send my son off to school each day I do so in the belief teachers will do their best to protect him, and all children, from bullying.

It's nice to think school staff will be there to listen and act if our sons or daughters are taunted, called names, made to fear for their safety or physically attacked by the playground thug.

But if parents at one US school also held these beliefs, they recently learned they were sadly mistaken. 

Instead parents at Zeman Elementary School, Nebraska were informed teachers would much prefer it if victims of bullying would simply shut-up about it. 

Not only that, but they advise victims of bullying to be nice to their tormentor and treat them as a friend. The bullied students are told to not defend themselves,  to learn to laugh at themselves and to not be a sore losers. Nobody likes a sore loser apparently, bullies on the other hand seem to qualify for Student Of The Year at Zeman.

Believe it or not these gems of "advice" were in a flyer sent home with fifth-grade students, aged about 11, to help teach them what to do if they are being bullied at school.

All nine of the rules contained in the flyer are laughable to say the least, but they are also dangerous.

Perhaps the most troubling rule contained in the flyer is Number 7. It advises victims of bullying to not tell a teacher or adult about what's happening because "the number one reason bullies hate their victims, is because the victims tell on them".

So what should the frightened child do? Cry themselves to sleep at  night? Miss great chunks of their education because the thought of facing their tormentor at school each day makes them physically ill? Or perhaps decide life as the victim of a bully is too difficult and decide to end it all?

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Because sadly that is what many bullied young people do.

An investigation by Yale University found victims of bullying are between 2 and 9 times more likely to consider suicide than non-victims,  and a British study found that at least half of suicides among young people are related to bullying.

Not only is the information in this flyer bad in the extreme. I would argue, if the advice was actually followed at the school, it would amount to a neglect of duty on behalf of the teachers.

Even the parents of children carrying out the bullying should be unhappy with the advice in this flyer.

Sure, maybe their child won't get in trouble at school if the classmates they are mistreating are discouraged from telling anyone. But how will they learn their behaviour is unacceptable and will not be tolerated once they leave the confines of school?

Not surprisingly, the response from parents of children who were given the flyer was immediate. The deluge of angry complaints to the school resulted in an apology letter from the school's principal stating that the flyer contained "incorrect information regarding how to handle bullying situations".

"The flyer was send home with good intentions, unfortunately, it contained advice that did not accurately reflect ... best practices regarding response to bullying incidents."

The apology letter, which was accompanied by updated information about how to deal with bullying, was considered an inadequate response by some parents at the school.

No doubt they are crossing their fingers and hoping no young bullying victims at the school remember the terrible advice from the flyer and, with their self-esteem already taking a battering, continue to believe they are to blame for the actions of the bully.