Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Bullies Grow Up to be Bullies

When I was in school countless years ago, I had my run in with bullies, too. They were not bigots, racists, or otherwise terrorists. They were your average "tough thugs" who would take my lunch money, pin my arms behind my back, and occasionally beat me up. These experiences were not fun and did not cause me undue mental trauma (at least none that I know of). While these experiences might have been hard for some, I have since long forgotten them. That is, until I ran into one of these bullies at the Ontario airport. This thug was hogging the space for bags on the shuttle bus, and was being abusive to me and the others as we tried to board the bus. The same feelings, which I thought had faded away long ago, came rushing back quicker than that embarrassed feeling us 70's graduates have when we hear the Bee Gees.

This story is relevant for education because the national debate on what to do with bullies at school has recently had some air play. Iowa, for instance, recently passed a bill "to ban bullying in all Iowa schools," so says the Des Moines Register. According to the article, at the time of signing, Iowa was one of only ten states in the nation to enact such a comprehensive anti-bullying act. While this act does include provisions that I might otherwise call discrimination (i.e., the bullying of gays), it also covers the old fashion kind I am familiar with.

A school bully does indeed grow up to be a bully in life, as I am sure was the case with my encounter at the Ontario airport. Similarly, according to Urbandale Superintendent Greg Robinson:
"I think our kids see adults bully each other all the time. Before I comment on someone else's behavior, I've got to take care of my own."

So don't scoff at the debate on bullying. Eliminating bullying in our schools will allow us the time and energy to focus on education—and may very well keep me from getting beat up in airports.

No comments: