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Bullies and their Apologists
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I had two customer complaints today, both involving kids bullying other kids, doing really unacceptable things. Oh, sure, the usual trash talk, poking and punching, calling names. Then came spitting, stealing lunches, stealing someone's purse and putting it in the victim's backpack....

The parents were, no kidding, upset and angry, unwilling to intervene in the wrong way because their offspring would be tormented even worse than before, but wanting help from us, the supposedly responsible adults who are in loco parentis during the day.

The parents' complaint? The adults in charge were complacent, lackadaisical even, seeing no reason to be concerned: Kids will be kids, they say. Or, there have been isolated incidents, they intone. And worst of all, there's nothing I can do.

Adults have the bully-pulpit supreme where teens are concerned. They have not only the ability but the obligation to teach by precept and lead by example. What they are teaching the bullies, as far as I can tell, is that you can get away with anything and nobody gives a damn, so long as it doesn't draw blood or cost somebody some money.

The attacks seemed to be both anti-elitist and anti-a particular ethnicity. A perfect teaching moment, turned into an anti-teaching disaster. I couldn't help but try to intervene by coaching and directing the adults who should be helping the youngsters how to do it and what they should/must do.

I'll have to follow up tomorrow and see if my efforts had any results other than punitive actions which will lead to escalating fights. How do you get people to understand and act intelligently, not just react from their (negative, fear- and anger-filled) gut?

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