Sunday, November 1, 2009

Schools must stop bullying

Today's Northwest Herald (Sunday, November 1; page 1D) carries an excellent article by Jami Kunzer about bullying in schools. What school district is involved? Woodstock District 200!

I heard Kelly Kucharski speak at the recent MCC event put together by Principled Minds, a new not-for-profit organization established by Harold Rail of Afterglow Creative Services, here in Woodstock.

It's too bad that you'll have to buy today's Northwest Herald to read this article. Apparently, it's not online, where it could be read and forwarded widely within District 200. A search on for "Kucharski" or "bullies" or "principled" does not find the article. I was told last week that NWH is having trouble with its search engine. It shouldn't be that hard to fix!

I have known of bullying in Woodstock District 200 schools since about 1998 and have fought many battles with them. Putting an end to bullying in District 200 is like trying to win the war in Afghanistan. Just when you think you winning, another "explosion" occurs and you find out you are losing.

And I can tell you from first-hand experience that it is not just the students who bully other students.

An Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) technical consultant was called in late one school year. Although she visited a student's classrooms on only one day and for only four hours, she reported that she had observed a teacher and staff "interacting inappropriately with the student, causing an escalation in undesirable behavior." Oh, you mean "bullying"...

When your kid comes home and reports problems at school, believe your kid first. When the school folks tell you that could never happen in their school, do not automatically believe them and distrust your own kid.

Parents must get involved and stay involved. We must stop all bullying in our schools!

1 comment:

Gus said...

The following comment was posted to the copy of this article that was published on

"Bullying along with a myriad of other social inequities and problems will always exist as long as human beings have a dark side to their nature and act in despicable ways. I do agree that parents, school administrators, teachers must act in a coordinated manner to correct this travesty on a case to case basis. Foremost in trying to solve this problem is, I believe, early intervention and education. Its a never ending battle."

It is a never ending battle, and it shouldn't be. The problem is that parents tire of the battle and eventually give up, or their kids grow up and go to a different school. And so the problem never gets fully addressed and solved in the schools.

When the prevailing culture is allowed to continue, it only worsens. No doubt that many teachers tire, too, of having to ride herd on the bullies.

One of the principals reported to the D200 school board recently that he had praised a student "caught" interfering in a bullying incident; i.e., the student was interceding on the victim's behalf. It's part of a "catch them doing something right" program at that school.

Now, those "gotcha's" are good ones. Bravo!