How Can So-Called Experts Still Be So Clueless about Bullying in Schools?
Orr, Deborah, The Independent (London, England)
Just when we were beginning to wonder if anything other than infighting, sulking and sex ever got done in Parliament, a Commons Select Committee has saved the day. During its researches into education, one of these highly respected information-gathering machines has come up with an exciting new discovery. That discovery even has a snappy, alliterative title. It is called Brat Bullying.
Unearthed a couple of years ago by the charity Kidscape, it describes a frightening new phenomenon involving Middle-Class Children from Nice Families sometimes being nasty to others. Michelle Elliot, director of Kid-scape, was the innovative soul who proudly brought this development to the attention of admiring MPs.
From interactions of various kinds, mainly encounters during anti- bullying courses and helpline calls, Elliot explained earnestly, a pattern emerged. This pattern confirmed that "the tormentor was not always the little thug who comes from a family of bullies and has to bully too just to survive, but was intrinsically a nice person from a nice home". Even worse, it transpires, these 21st-century bullies do not usually resort to physical violence, and are actually more likely to be girls than boys.
I have only two questions about this. Why on earth was a person running an anti-bullying charity when she was so totally ignorant as to believe this stuff to be "new"? And why on earth is a select committee so woefully lacking in wisdom that they appear to consider such statements of the obvious to be enlightening?
Have none of these people been to school? Have they never been bullied, or ever even been aware of victimisation in any sphere of their lives? Have they never had children, and seen them come home from school withdrawn or upset, and endeavoured to get to the bottom of the difficulty? Have they never even noticed that people from all walks of life regularly speak about being bullied at school, most bitterly of all if they happen to be girls sent off to board, or boys who found themselves on the receiving end of the ritualised semi-official bullying that was prized as part of the "character and ethos" of the institution?
Have they never even read a book set in a school? …