Part Three of this segment of determining if teachers are ever responsible for encouraging bullying is a little different. In the book “Rupture,” by Simon Lelic, it’s the teacher who is bullied so much that he goes into his school with a gun and shoots people and not a student. Plus, the story is set in London and not American suburbia. However, there is plenty of scope in the story to properly examine the question and arrive at an answer.
“Rupture” is the story of Samuel Szajkowski, a history teacher who one day goes into a school with a pistol and opens fire killing three students, another teacher and finally himself. The story deals with the police investigation afterward where most of the officers involved simply want to write off Szajkowski as a psycho who just went nuts and shot people. One officer, however, isn’t afraid to dig a little deeper into why it happened and she comes up with some very interesting finds.
It becomes obvious almost from the outset that Samuel had a bully from among his colleagues in the form of a PE teacher named Terrance, referred to as TJ. After a misunderstanding at a social at the beginning of the school year, TJ has it in for Samuel big time. It starts off with little things like when TJ tells Samuel that Friday is a dress down day resulting in Samuel being sent home by the Head for wearing jeans to school. After that the “tricks” that get played get more frequent and more open and elaborate. Basically, TJ makes Samuel’s school life a complete misery.
Since we know that TJ bullied Samuel, we must ask if the conduct of the PE teacher encouraged anymore bullying from others. There’s no evidence of any bullying from any other colleagues. On the other hand, there is bullying from the pupils. From his first day, Samuel is targeted by some of the students, the chief antagonist is a sixteen year old boy named Donovan Stanley. During the first few months, Samuel gets spat at, tripped in the hall, his bicycle vandalised and the icing on the cake, his briefcase defecated into. It is the last incident that sheds some light into whether or not TJ encouraged the bullying of Samuel. After the incident, he proceeds to tell many of the student body and the story spreads around the school like wildfire. That would give many a child the idea that they can do what they like to a certain teacher because another teacher will think it’s funny. But that is not the only evidence on offer. Midway through the year, Samuel plays in goal at the student-teacher soccer game. Late in the game, Donovan and his sidekick Gideon, intentionally slide into Samuel breaking his leg. While both boys are walking away from the fallen teacher, TJ gives them a smile and a wink.
Before we cast judgement, there is one more person who needs to be investigated here. That is the Head, Mr Travis. When Samuel comes to him in the early days saying that he’s having difficulty, the Head basically tells him to man up. Furthermore, he shows little interest in the vandalising of the bike or the defecating into the briefcase. Even when his leg is broken, Mr Travis immediately rushes in and declares it an accident. Near the end of the story, the police inspector finds that the students have what is called a “Bum Blog” where they openly abuse Samuel on the blog. The Head once again does nothing stating freedom of expression.
Did the teachers encourage the bullying of one of their own? In the case of TJ, I conclude that it’s a no brainer. His determination to make Samuel’s life a misery had an impact on the pupils who bullied the teacher as well. Worse still, the non action of the Head in this case further encouraged the pupils to target a specific teacher knowing full well that nothing would be done. It is little wonder that Samuel went into the school on that fateful day and let loose with his gun. If anything, it’s a shame that he didn’t have a few more bullets.
Next post: Part 4- We Need to Talk About Kevin
To buy He Was Weird, go to: http://www.amazon.co.uk/He-Was-Weird-Michael-Lefevre/dp/1909740942/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1416934190&sr=1-1&keywords=he+was+weird