My son, Jake, ran for School Captain this week. He didn’t win. He accepted the defeat graciously, with good humour and aplomb. ‘I knew I wouldn’t win, Mum,’ he said. ‘It was inevitable. You know who I was up against.’
That’s just it. I did know who he was up against – the demonic cyborg children of the members of the P and C (Australian version of the PTA.) The members of the P and C do occasionally produce wonderful, well-adjusted kids, it has to be said. Two of my best friends were active members of the P and C for many years and their kids are among a small number of kids I would be happy to call my own. However, the present P and C batch seem to have produced a series of uber-children who are self-obsessed, highly competitive, precocious, thoughtless, with little respect for others. The child who was elected as Vice Captain is a known bully. On the day of the election several kids told me the now Vice Captain was seen punching a third grader (he is in fifth grade) in the boys toilets. The only child who intervened was my son. He was given detention for lying about the incident.
Jake gave a speech about stopping bullying and helping kids who have trouble fitting in, along with his usual jokes about not picking your nose or farting in class. Over twenty people rang me that evening to say what a big impression he had made on their kids. Many parents admitted their child was being bullied and Jake’s speech had given them hope. There was a noticeable buzz surrounding him. For a fleeting moment I thought he might burst out from his position as extreme underdog and win the race.
But I should have known better than to underestimate the power of the P and C fembots. On voting day they handed out stickers, chocolate and schmoozed the teachers. Naive as I am, I did nothing, believing Jake’s speech, sense of humour and personality would be enough to get him through.
After Jake’s defeat I received almost forty calls from genuinely upset parents and kids who had been hoping for a shift in the balance of power. I also received a very interesting call from a teacher I know personally (the school doesn’t know we worked together years ago) who told me the P and C and the teaching staff weren’t happy at Jake’s intimation that bullying occurred in the school and that some of the votes may have been disregarded because of it. Seems to me that pretending bullying doesn’t exist is one sure way to ensure it continues to flourish. And vote-fixing in a primary school election? Some people need to get a life!
So Jake sits tonight watching ‘ The Simpsons’, feeling slightly disappointed but heartened by the amount of support he has received. He has handled it well and I am glad – for he has much more disappointment to face in life in the years ahead. As my friend, Mary (and one of Jake’s most ardent supporters) says :’ Having a known bully in a school leadership position sends out the wrong message. Jake would have changed things for the better. He shouldn’t have lost just because his Mum isn’t a member of the P and C. It’s not Jake’s loss, it’s the school’s loss.’
Amen to that!
Yeah, we “don’t have a bullying problem” in most of our schools either. Right. I’m glad your son tried, and I know I would have voted for him. I used to work in an elementary school and there were a couple of teachers who were known bullies. It was lovely.
But the other adults know about the bully teachers and many of them just ignored the pests. Maybe that’s what will happen to the kids in your son’s school. They’ll grow up and get ignored, mocked, and stabbed in the back at every turn. Karma can be uncomfortable when it bites you in the arse.
Bullying in schools & what to do with about it – Dr Ken Rigby
I know EXACTLY the kind of parents and the kind of kids they produce / raise you are talking about. I cant STAND it. I just cant.
Karen – I hope the karma does get the bullies. But you hear so much about corporate bullying in the workplace in the news these days that you wonder if the school bullies don’t just take what they learn in school into the work environment. A mate of Alfie’s recently left a very high profile job in a law firm due to corporate bullying. He is now unemployed and on anti-depressants. When it came to the crunch, even though he was in the right, no one backed him up. It sickens me, it really does.
DavidM – thank you for those very useful links. I think I’ll forward them on to the teachers. I feel like stirring things up a bit.
Meleah – it is maddening dealing with those parents, isn’t it? Drives me completely bonkers!
And don’t get me started on workplace bullying. Seems to me your Jake has been brought up proper. Well done.
CB – I have tried to do the right thing with Jake. Bullying is a concern in the workplace, isn’t it? Some people will do anything to be top dog. Thanks so much for stopping by!
What a fantastic son you have there! I hope that he sticks to his principles and doesn’t let this get to him – I know he will succeed phenomenally one day if he keeps his head on straight like this.
Unfortunately, I have to agree, though, that it does seem schoolyard bullies grow up to be workplace bullies. I even made a lens about the working kind. Somehow I always managed to draw a bullying boss over the seven years I drowned in the corporate rat race. No more for me, thanks.
Daoine – so sorry to hear you had a bullying boss. I had one too for many years. In the end I decided I’d had enough and left. It’s a shame it has to be that way much of the time.
“Some people will do anything to be top dog. ”
The scarest workplace bully is the sociopathic bully. They don’t bully to become top dog. They bully for no other reason than the “pleasure” of destroying their targets (victims) Their targets are usually good, honest, decent workers. These bullies put on a front of being charming and likeable. But they are pathological liars with no sense of empathy, shame, remorse, or guilt. They are ruthless and relentless and will not stop until the target resigns or is fired.
The only plus that I can think of -is once you’ve gone through such an ordeal, you’ll
never go through it again- i.e the next time you don’t ignore or discount your spidey sense when it starts to tingle.
David – it’s true. I don’t put up with bullying any more. I have just realised you have your own blog (I am a little slow on the uptake today) so I am coming over to visit!
David, I wish I’d learned quicker. I hopped from one job to the next hoping to be treated better until I burned out. I’ve just sat here now and counted seven bullies. That’s one a year. No wonder I get panicky if I start considering going back to work.
daoine, don’t get panicky, get writing. Seven bullies in seven years would make for an impactful memoir.
>>I hope the karma does get the bullies. <<
I met our ‘school bully’ in the Air Force … I had stripes on my arm and he hadn’t! Truly, what goes around comes around!
Sorry I didn’t get to see you last week, but, hopefully, there’ll be another time!
travelrat – I feel wretched for missing you in Sydney. It is so typical that my sister decided to go ‘off the rails’ while you were here. I am deeply sorry I missed out on the chance of meeting you!