More frequently than not, bullying makes its way into the news these days. Bullying is nothing new in human society, but the recent focus on the subject is. People from grade school to the professional world claim to be bullied for whatever reason.
It all starts on the playground, when a kid who grows at about twice the rate of everyone else figures out that he can throw his weight around and extort lunch money from the pockets of those not blessed with such an active pituitary gland.
It moves up the scale to junior high and high school, where this same person with the same pituitary gland figures out he can get away with calling people names, putting weaker individuals in lockers and garbage cans, or giving them a royal swirlie.
One would like to think that this stops once a person matures into adulthood. Sadly, this is not the case. Usually, they go to the police academy, and are allowed to continue to bully people. This time, they have a badge, a gun, and an entire compendium of laws to back them up.
Our current Michigan Legislature thinks that the best way to combat the bully problem is by requiring teachers to engage in professional development regarding the subject of bullying. I am required to endure at least an hour’s presentation for my school.
Then, I will have to use classroom time to talk about bullying that could be used for, oh I don’t know, teaching material that students must regurgitate on the state tests. I could even use it to teach the critical thinking skills that employers are demanding these days. (gasp!)
Other schools will be forced to assign curriculum and assessments to address the bullying problem, which will draw even more time away from teaching students the subject they are supposed to be learning. They will do week-long projects, put up billboards in schools, and probably even have a day where everyone dresses in purple in memory of the gay Rutgers student who committed suicide after his roommate streamed video of him kissing another male.
While this is all well-intentioned, I maintain that the road to hell is paved with good intentions.
Spewing rhetoric about encouraging others to speak up and not allow bullies to get away with their torment may work for a limited time. In a school environment, its a great idea because you have to deal with a lot of people the same or similar ages as you who can make you into a social exile if you don’t stop. (Wait a tick, isn’t that another form of bullying?)
But once the school bell rings, what’s to stop these kids from bullying? Where will the teachers and principals be to stop their crass behavior? Most likely at home, fulfilling their state-mandated requirement to keep tabs on their students’ Facebook pages for signs of cyber-bullying.
All the curriculum in the world will not put an end to bullying. Talking about the subject, hosting focus groups, assigning curriculum will do nothing to alleviate the problem. In fact, it may serve to give bullies resources to bully with that they didn’t know existed.
Instead, we should deny all bullies a future career in law enforcement. If you are ever found guilty of any sort of bullying at any stage in your life, you cannot become a police officer. Period.
This approach will effectively kill two birds with one stone. It will ensure that anyone who wants to become a police officer was never a bully. This will effectively end bullying because most police officers were bullies while in school.
This will simultaneously clean up the law enforcement occupation. Rather than having cops riding roughshod over people’s constitutional rights in the name of their version of justice, they will actually use the resources our society has given them to do their jobs. (i.e. search warrants and probable cause)
It will also ensure that those people who choose to exercise their constitutional rights to remain silent, to not incriminate themselves, and to legal defense will be thought of ordinary citizens rather than smart-alecks who are giving the fuzz a hard time.
Only a proactive measure like the threat of being denied a future occupation that you might enjoy can serve as an effective deterrent. Only by disallowing any bullies admittance into any police training facility will we end bullying for good and improve the function of our criminal justice system. What good is bullying if you can’t get paid to do it?