Education Expert on Students Bullying School Bus Aide

How not to raise a bully

Is your child a bully?

I was outraged when I saw the latest YouTube account of bullying. The extent of the incident and cruelness of some children is beyond comprehension.

Karen, the gentle, matronly grandmother from a small town in New York, just wanted her tormentors to go away. These tormentors did not invade her home, nor were they holding a gun against her head — although they might as well have been. These were seventh graders on a school bus.

Karen, an aide on the bus, tried to ignore what was happening as four seventh grade boys in the back of the bus verbally and physically abused her. Ultimately, she was driven to tears. “They were trying to impress each other by acting this way, and I was the likely victim,” she said later. Graciously, she added, “They’re not bad kids, but when they get together (bad) things happen.”

This reminds me of the kids in Lord of the Flies, a novel often assigned in honors English classes. In this story, a group of children stranded on a tropical island develop their own culture in which the most ruthless kids dominate. With no adult moral compass, animal instincts rule until the group commits the ultimate act of bullying — killing the child whom they identify as the “pig.” As an educator, I quickly learned the importance of prompt, firm adult intervention when kids treat others badly. As Karen suggested, not every kid that abused her was mean. But one in particular had an attitude of arrogance and smirked when he acted horrifically. The others simply joined in and followed, probably trying to impress the leader but adding to Karen’s hurt.

Sadly, Karen’s case isn’t isolated. Just two days later, a shocking 10-minute video of children verbally and physically harassing an elderly school bus driver surfaced on YouTube. These children — who appear to be even younger than Karen’s tormenters — giggled as they encouraged a boy’s profanity-laced tirade against a bus driver named Bill. The driver did his best to ignore the boy, even as the child slapped the back of Bill’s head and kicked the back of his seat while Bill drove on.

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School Expert on Teachers Bullying Disabled Students

 

My heart broke when I heard the account of 10-year-old Akian, a child with autism who was bullied by his teachers in New Jersey. Who wouldn’t feel the pain of Akian’s father when he heard his son’s special education teachers tell Akian to “shut your mouth” and talk about vomiting from drinking too much the night before? You would expect a special education teacher who is supposed to understand disabilities to be compassionate toward our most vulnerable kids.

A similar incident happened a few years ago with my granddaughter, Victoria, who has Down syndrome. One day, on the way to the bus, the teacher thought Victoria was not listening and took her to a “time-out” room. During a call to Victoria’s mother, the teacher said, “If she doesn’t listen, you’ll have to pick her up from school. She won’t be allowed to take the bus.

“Oh, and, by the way, when she was in the isolation room, she took off all her clothes and was screaming and banging on the wall.”

An isolation room?

Victoria isn’t able to speak clearly because of an expressive language disorder. She wasn’t able to tell her mom that the teacher had put her in a 6-by-6-foot cinder-block room at least four times recently for “fooling around.” Victoria’s inability to communicate clearly frustrated the teacher, who in turn bullied Victoria. In the same way that Akian — who also does not have the ability to report such an abuse of power — became more combative in his behavior, Victoria compensated for her inability to talk about the isolation room by acting out.

One of the cases I am working on as an expert witness also involves a special education teacher who physically and emotionally abused her autistic students. She hit them with a yardstick, a brush, even her own fist and palm. One of the teacher aides told the court she saw the teacher force-feeding, punching, scratching, and insulting the children. These victims, who also have difficulties speaking, were 6 and 7 years old when the abuse took place. The teacher is on trial on felony charges of child abuse and neglect. [Continue reading…]

‘Bully’ Delivers a Strong Punch

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I attended the New York theatrical debut of Bully Friday evening with my daughter, Tina. After a train ride to the city and a long walk from Penn Station (in the wrong direction first) to the Angelika Film Center, I was pleased to see some young people with the Bully logo on T-shirts handing out […]

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Bullying and Education Expert Weighs In – ‘The Hunger Games’ or ‘Bully’ for Our Teenagers?

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STOP Bullying! Take the Pledge

This week I took a formal pledge to end bullying as part of the Cartoon Network’s Stop Bullying: Speak Up campaign endorsed by Anderson Cooper, CNN, Time Inc. and others. This is a symbolic gesture to show how important it is to speak up in order to make a difference and prevent harassment and abuse […]

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Welcome to The Bully Action Guide

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  Welcome to The Bully Action Guide: How to Help Your Child and Get Your School to Listen, by Dr. Edward F. Dragan. Dr. Dragan has spent more than 40 years in education as a teacher, school superintendent, and an official in the New Jersey Department of Education.  As the founder of Education Management Consulting, […]

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