Part 4, final
The principal was receptive to her plight. She prefaced her talk with the buzz words, “hostile working environment.” Explaining the whole dirty situation from being bullied (herself and her students) to the sexually charged remarks, her affirmation came when her principal, with raised eyebrows and a scowl of wonderment at the audacity of The Bully’s remarks, reassured her that she did indeed have structure in her classroom. Her evaluations had always been glowing. “Lack of structure,” he continued to reassure her, “would certainly have surfaced long before now, and I do not need him to do my job of teacher quality.”
This principal’s heart was with special education students. He was the kind of administrator, the kind of man, who took time to speak with them every single day. His first agenda item every morning, before he tackled any of his responsibilities, was to go straight to the special education department and greet those students. He had a genuine rapport, a bond, with them that could be seen in his everyday actions. That The Bully mistreated any of them was a personal affront that could not be ignored.
The principal gave her a choice. “Do you want to speak to him about this, or would you prefer for me to speak with him?”
At first, she was confused and almost insulted – “Do I want to handle this?” she thought. Bringing it to her supervisor was handling it. Right? Then she comforted herself with the understanding that he was simply allowing her to direct the next step.
“I don’t want to talk to him! When I attempted to do that he ran out of the room, refusing to hear me out. Can you not see that as part of his bullying nature?”
Smiling, as though he were really going to enjoy correcting this bully, he assured her it would be handled. Funny thing, The Bully called in sick the next day, a Friday. It was a blissful day in her classes.
A secretary with whom she had confided about The Bully alerted her on Monday when he was called into the principal’s office. And she alerted her when he was on the way out, which was almost an hour. She is hopeful that something was accomplished in her favor, although neither her principal nor The Bully have mentioned the meeting. Her secretary friend is not privy to the meeting. It has only been a week, and The Bully has stationed himself in the opposite corner of the classroom, rather than at her desk or at her lectern. His interruptions to her classroom have been minimal.
A reference in the literature that lends itself to a sexual comment by one who is a sexual deviant surfaced. Knowing it was about to be read aloud, she studied his moves and understood that previously, it would have been a major disruption. Her eyes narrowed on him, and she waited for the comments. A feeble attempt on his part to highlight the sexual ambiguity was slain immediately by her perceptive proactive directions to the class. She was now winning.
He enters quietly, stands to the side and limits his comments to next to nothing. When the bell rings, he exits quickly and quietly. They have crossed paths multiple times in the hallway, and he continues without speaking, without looking at her. She knows he is fuming mad and she doesn’t care. She actually feels victorious. She also knows that it is probably not finished. But for the time being, her classroom is enjoying an educational momentum unlike what has been for the entire year. She still experiences stress at his sight, sleeplessness, and a general feeling of anxiety especially evident immediately prior to the two periods a day he is required to be in her classroom. It has after all, only been a week.
Ironically, she has been “educated” on bullying. It’s a red hot topic these days in education. Teachers, and students alike, are trained now to recognize bullying and are offered strategies for stopping it as well as reporting it. She still wonders how her own experience with a bully got as far as it did without her recognition. At least she now knows. She also knows she is strong enough to face The Bully and knows her rights. She understand that nobody should ever have to deal with a bully.
Adults are typically not the target of bullies. We worry about our children being bullied as we watch headline after headline about the consequences of bullying and how it can escalate into violence for the bullied. We teachers look for these signs in our classrooms, but seldom think it will happen to us in our classrooms let alone in our own lives. For this she is fearful that she might carry that suitcase, which for any length of time would be too long. She hopes that by telling her story, her own healing can triumph and her bully be silenced forever.
If you have been a victim of bullying, or you know of someone who has, there is help. If you see children whom you even think might be experiencing bullying, please help put an end to this violence. And it is violence, no matter how you look at it.
Go to http://www.stopbullying.gov/ to learn how you can teach your children, your students, and learn yourselves, to be more than just a bystander. It’s interesting that, while this is an awesome site, it is also directed to kids. Adults can be victims of bullying too, and the same information applies.
Exactly what is bullying? According to the website, bullying is a behavior that is unwanted, aggressive, and involves a real or perceived imbalance of power. It can be verbal, physical, or social. The victim “loses” power, and often the imbalance changes over time and can quickly go from verbal to physical. Please help put a stop to this behavior. Victims of bullying often have serious, lasting problems.
Suspect a bully or a victim of bullying? Act quickly. For tips and information, please click here. http://www.stopbullying.gov/
If you suspect someone is at immediate risk of harm, call 911 and report it.
If you know someone who is feeling hopeless or is despondent, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline or call 1.800.273.8255. Your call will be directed to the nearest crisis center.
If you suspect bullying because someone is acting differently, such as inability to concentrate, sadness, or any behavior that is abnormal for that person, please contact the school’s guidance department or other mental health facility.
And please, if you even think a child is being bullied at school, contact someone in authority at the school: a guidance counselor, a teacher, the principal, the school board, or the State Department of Education.
If your reports go unresolved or you do not feel that your report is handled correctly, there are alternatives. Please contact the local school superintendent, State Department of Education, the U.S. Department of Education (Office for Civil Rights), or the U.S. Department of Justice (Civil Rights Division).
These problems do not solve themselves. Nor do bullies just give up and allow their victims to continue life unharmed.
GET HELP NOW. http://www.stopbullying.gov/get-help-now/index.html
YOUR ACTIONS MAY SAVE A CHILD.