At last, the fifth and final part of the series of whether the actions of teachers can encourage bullying. This time it will be through the eyes of my own book, “He Was Weird.” Since the book was based on my own experiences, it could be said that we have come full circle on the subject. So, with no further procrastination, let’s see if my book answers the question.
The answer comes in the opening pages of the book when Marvin meets his new teacher Miss Erichetti. Her treatment of Marvin opens the door for the bullying he suffers at the hands of his classmates. When he reacts to one instance of bullying by throwing his glasses in Asperger’s temper and is reported to the teacher by a safety, all she is worried about is how her unblemished record of not having a child reported to her is now blemished. Needless to say, she makes him pay for it.
While on one occasion, she points out that Marvin is the recipient of unfair criticism, she also indicates that he invites trouble. A clear case of bullying being blamed on the victim. Then comes the day when Marvin’s name is legally changed. She announces it to the class by saying, “I don’t know how we’re going to get used to this but Marvin is now Mark.” It is little wonder that the pupils insist on calling Mark by his former name and use it as a bullying tool. It’s not just these incidents, throughout the entire school year, she belittles and patronises the boy and the class think the entire thing is funny. Her actions certainly encourage the bullying Marvin/Mark gets that year and sets the stage for the rest of the story.
Even though the next year’s teacher, Mr Fluyt, does little or nothing to encourage Mark’s bullying, the seeds have been already planted. Even though, half the kids he meets at the beginning of that school year should only know him as Mark, the pupils from his former school make sure they know his former name and that results in more children calling him by it. Of course the other forms of bullying are present as well and they don’t relent when Mr Fluyt allows Mark to shine at his talent for strategy games. Being class champion does not stop the bullying.
Seventh grade is almost a repeat of fifth grade. While none of Mark’s teachers are nearly as bad as Miss Erichetti, their actions fuel the flames. Mr Danko, the science teacher, assumes Mark is simply lazy and rides him about it. Of course, the pupils in the class who are on the basketball team, which Mr Danko is coach of, find this funny and use it against him. It is also why the teacher does nothing when Mark is tripped up by the eighth graders during basketball tryouts. The one teacher who shows him any sympathy, Mrs Hinton, also is quick to make him out to be a bully as well when his so called friend takes the hat of another boy. It is little wonder that by the end of seventh grade, with no help from the school or other authorities, the only recourse left for Mark is to take advantage of his access to guns.
After the exhibits I have put forth, I firmly believe that the actions of teachers can consciously or unconsciously contribute to bullying. In all of the stories, the actions or non actions of teachers have directly and indirectly contributed to bullying and even aided the bully’s belief that they were untouchable. Fortunately, schools are getting to grips with this issue and teachers are receiving more training on how to deal with it. Still there is a long way to go and it won’t be fully dealt with until a bullied child can go to the teacher or principal without fear of recrimination or retribution and not be tempted to solve the problem by picking up a gun.
Next post: A Christmas Message
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=1419198066&sr=1-1&keywords=he+was+weird