602: BULLYING

“A warm welcome to Zingcreed, the mis-fit blog written by a retired science teacher in north London. As a school teacher I know a little about school yard bullying, so I thought I would make a few comments on the topic.

Peter Turner.”

The British actor Christopher Ecclestone recently said he was a bully back in his school days. He figured the reason was that someone else was bullying him and that made him feel humiliated. By taking it out on someone else, by humiliating them in turn, he regained a sense of being in control, of being superior in one area of life. I was impressed that he wanted to contact the boy/man he had done this to, to apologise to him for his behaviour.

When I worked in a boy’s school I came across instances where staff approved of bullying. It ‘hardened the wimps,the softies, the little mummy’s boys.’ One teacher even told me that if he knew who had bullied pupil X, he would shake him by the hand. Another said that if someone didn’t take pupil Y down a peg or two, he would have to do it himself. Such inhumanity and lack of professionalism appalled me, but I knew that the worst thing was not physical abuse but words: a sneer or sarcastic comment from a respected teacher can really hurt. Sometimes this is just a throw away remark and the teacher doesn’t even realise he/she is doing it.

I remembered reading in Malcolm Cross’s “West Indian Social Problems” (I can’t find the page number now) that in slave families, or indeed in black families in the Caribbean post-slavery too, there is a hierarchy in the family. It works like this: the father gets humiliated by the white overseer and cannot answer back or he gets flogged. He gets home that night and takes his rage out on his woman, who hasn’t done anything to deserve it. This makes him feel better – at least he’s the boss in his own home. What can the wronged wife do? Why, thrash whoever’s lower than her in the family’s pecking order of course. That means the children.
And the poor kids kick the dog….

Source: 

Cross, Malcolm, ed. “West Indian Social Problems. A sociological perspective” Columbus Publishers Ltd, Port of Spain, Trinidad (1970)

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