There is a new bully in town and it’s not who you think.  Our schools have been fighting the good fight for a while now with positive results, but bullying still happens.  We hear it in the news all the time about some mean kid launching an attack on a peer and making their life unbearable.  To combat bullying and harmful behavior our school systems have drilled it into our children from early on that they need to report anything that could fall into these categories.

Some kids have taken this to an extreme and are using this reporting system as a weapon.

We have all seen the kids who will tattle on anything just for the attention. He farted. She called me a bad name. They won’t let me play with them. You know the story. Then we have the ones who see something they think might be wrong and subsequently report it to an adult. Those kids learn from what they see and as they mature they learn what needs attention and what doesn’t. But a small group of kids have realized how much power they wield when they report on someone and as such have taken reporting to a new level.

This is the new bully.

The new bully is usually a good student who is never in trouble.  I have seen girls display this behavior more than boys. But, boys do it too. They get away with stuff because they are believable and no one would question them because they display exemplary behavior in school. (Delete and have never been caught.) They are usually the most helpful kid in the class. Ingratiating themselves to the teacher is easy for these students.   They are very good at hiding their deception and when they decide they don’t like someone they make it their own personal mission to make that kids’ life miserable. They do it quite deftly without a glitch or a hitch.

This is a new tactic, a new brand of bullying. Legally sanctioned bullying, to be precise.  And all they have to do is start reporting every misstep this kid takes until that kid is stripped of all privileges and his or her school life becomes a living hell.

This victim is almost always one of those kids who hates school. He or she doesn’t care about getting involved in playground politics, but just can’t help but get in trouble for stupid stuff.  How do I know this? I know this because that is my son. His name is Will.

Will has ADD.

He is extremely smart with an almost photographic memory. But he hates school.  He doesn’t see the point in doing the work because it simply bores him. He is not a bad kid. As a matter of fact I am constantly getting complements from adults on how well behaved he is.   Unfortunately, he is not like that in the classroom. He tends to be the class clown and he speaks his mind.  In part because he unchallenged, bored and has been labeled.

I don’t sugarcoat things when it comes to Will. He is a handful.  But is he a mean kid? No.

He has been suspended from school twice—once in the third grade and once in the sixth grade.  Both times because he hit another kid. The school’s knee jerk reaction was that Will was at fault because he is always in some sort of minor trouble. But both times, after the dust settled, it was revealed that the other kid was at fault and had lied. And, guess what? Both of those kids had bullied my son by reporting.

The second incident was especially traumatic because the other kid’s parents called the police and wanted to file assault charges against my son. It wasn’t until Will spoke to the investigating officer that it was revealed that the other kid had hit him first.  Will had contended this at in the beginning but no one at the school believed him because the “victim” was a perfect student who had never been in trouble.

When Will was in the fifth grade the constant tattling nearly drove me over the edge. The girls in his classroom were relentless. I was constantly getting emails from the teacher. The final straw for me was when someone tattled on him for saying the word “crap” after school outside of the classroom as they were leaving to go home. Why? Because one of the kids did not like him and told Will that he was going to do everything he could to make sure that Will could not participate in the fifth grade fun day at the end of the year. That last incident stripped him of enough behavior points that he was no longer allowed to join the other kids in their graduation festivities.

These are just the most memorable incidents.

Will doesn’t tell me every little detail of his school day. He is not a whiner. He is not a tattler. I have pretty much conditioned him that unless imminent death is a factor I don’t want to hear about it. Not really, but you get the drift.

The effects of bullying are well documented. Students suffer huge blows to their self esteem when they are targeted by their peers and it is more crippling emotionally than any type of physical altercation they could encounter. This new type of bullying is especially harmful in that the victim now does not trust the people they should be able to count on the most to protect them. The teachers and staff are the people we entrust our children to everyday when we leave them in their care. They are accountable as well. Parents trust them to be able to strike a balance and know the difference between valid reporting and malicious tattling.  Too often they fail.

The casualty is too often they fail the very students most in need of their support.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not opposed to the reporting system. It is a good system, but it needs some refinement. There needs to be some definition outlined to the students and the teachers and there needs to be some responsibility and accountability for those who abuse the system.  There needs to be a code of integrity in place.

Cindy Lou Hogan is Will’s Mom and doesn’t mind being defined as such. She lives her life with a “no regrets” attitude and looks at every life experience as an opportunity to learn something new. Because there is the need to pay bills and eat she is also the sole proprietor of her own Mobile Notary business in the South Bay area of Los Angeles.   


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