Middle school principal's (non) helpful email to parents about social media

I’d say that’s a problem of the bullies and for the bullied. There is something wrong with a world view that actively seeks out the “weak” to brutalize.

Now, I think teaching kids how to deal with bullies is a positive thing to do,but that doesn’t excuse the behavior in the first place. I think we should acknowledge its a major problem, help our kids figure out strategies that work for them, and then try to side with the bullied instead of the bullies.

Since when is being a bully, punching down, and treating others like shit, “strong”?



It’s not either-or though. Often bullies have been bullied themselves and are suffering from trauma, which they then lash out because they don’t know better. Maybe we should teach children to deal with their own traumas and to be compassionate towards others.

And plenty of kids killed themselves BECAUSE OF being abused by their peers. Maybe we need to call it what it is, not bullying (which brings to mind harmless grade school pranking) and call it just that - abuse. I agree on that point with @marilove. Do you tell a kid who is getting beat by their parents, “well, it’ll make you stronger…” Sure, it can, but at what cost?


Some of my best times at parent/school meetings have been texting back and forth with friends in the same meeting, laughing about all the things the “expert” is getting wrong. Only a few months ago, we were assured that teens use acronyms such as POS, which means “parent over shoulder” and as far as I know has never been used by an actual student ever, and of course we need to be wary of the dangers of Facebook and email (which most kids moved on from long ago).

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I’ve been using computers since, hmmm, kindergarten I think, and have been online (via both BBSs and the internet) since I was about 13 or so, back in the early 90s. I basically grew up on the internet.

And I still think 5th and sixth grade is pretty young for kids to be involved in social media. I would definitely think it has to be very closely monitored. And if it violates the TOS for a specific service, maybe that service has decent reasons for not wanting young children using it?

Correct- it’s usually a total cluster.
That said, I’ve actually (I swear!) seen it done well- and it’s a totally useful thing.
But for that to happen, a school district has to employ people that actively keep up with that stuff, have an open dialog with it’s students (god forbid) and be willing to reach out and be helpful with parents instead of shouting about doom and the perils of the internets.


I have not advocated anything here.

Well, OK, I recommended Boundegar prepare to be targeted. And I’ll stand by that. :slight_smile:

In my experience any program, law or ruleset that purports to deal with children will inevitably be abused to childrens’ detriment, and the only thing that I’ve ever seen really work has been to find and employ teachers who can do the job - and then let them do it. The more rules you make, the more you will limit and disempower the good teachers. In contrast, sadistic teachers will typically be empowered by more rules and restrictions; it will give them plausible cover and legal defense for their cruelties.


This is true, but it can seem quixotic - no matter how good we get as a society about eliminating bullying, I don’t imagine there’s a world in which it is entirely prevented or that tragic things don’t happen. Which is just to say, “we must always work hard at this, and it might never be good enough.”

And because we live in this imperfect reality, the truth is that resilience is a very real skill that our children must learn in this world - the ability to experience emotional and even physical distress and damage and to learn from that, heal from that, and use it as an opportunity to find the changes that they can make in their worlds.

It’s not an either/or choice, though, it’s a both/and situation - to minimize the conditions that lead to bullying, but also to realize that this may be a chronic illness of our society, and to inoculate our children against it because we haven’t eliminated it.


Not what I meant. The one who stands up to a bully is the strong one. It’s still punching down, but it’s just.

It’s okay, I don’t let internet bullies get to me, and most people around here can disagree without being disagreeable. It’s why I keep coming back.


In my state they passed a law that requires schools to address/punish/prevent online “bullying” whether it happens during school or not. That might be the case in the state where this principal works too. The courts are allergic to issues involving school-aged kids–courts here don’t act on truancy, drug possession or bullying–and so this all gets put on the schools.

Research on how to stop bullying has offered few, if any, practical strategies. I agree wholeheartedly with previous posters’ assessment that hurt people hurt people, but finding the root cause of every bully’s rage (likely a parent or guardian) takes time, resources and cooperation that schools don’t always have.

The focus now is on bystander training–teaching the kids themselves to intervene when a bully is abusing his or her target. The Streisand Effect is an example of the power of bystanders against bullies. While I suppose this is something schools can teach, I believe that it should be taught at home. I also believe that, by and large, it isn’t.


And (much as I probably sound like an axe-grinding asshole; but so be it); remember that your bully is going to be targeting his classmates every minute you spend attempting to empathize and understand his motivations and whatever else it is that the bleeding heart approach advocates.

Even if the resources weren’t lacking, the time spent unravelling the sob story is being directly taken from those he victimizes while you do so, and he will be taking advantage of all the delay you afford him. They always do. The resources are a merely economic matter; but the time is being directly stolen from the bully’s victims. Unless your benevolent intervention has something in mind to counter that, it must answer for any delay.

Is it probable that many bullies are tragic victims of circumstance and ultimately acting out their own victimization and whatnot? Yeah, sure, plausible enough. Rabid dogs are also tragic victims of circumstance, helplessly acting out their own victimization. That doesn’t stop them from being extremely dangerous animals.

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IRT kids using social media: meh. There’s way worse shit on teh interwebs where there aren’t content policies and moderation and such. Instagram might make your kid a stupid consumerist instafame seeker, but it won’t make them “grow up faster”.

IRT bullying: kids, when put in groups without close supervision, will always form a pecking order of sorts. While you obviously want to stop the at-risk kids from hurting themselves or others or growing up traumatised, all kids at some point have to learn the skills of dealing with bullies. You will never be able to legislate or educate mean streaks out of some kids because that’s just how groups of creatures interact with each other. Adults bully each other ffs so good luck getting kids not to do it.

I agree with you. Unfortunately, schools are liable for any and all bullying in civil actions.

Administrators are often told by their risk-adverse district supervisors to do something like this whenever a parent complains that their child is being bullied. I’ve seen this exact response and argument in some middle schools in SoCal.

If I had a child, I know it would annoy me if his/her school tried to tell me how to parent. But as a high school educator at a campus full of litigious helicopter parents, I understand the possible consequences of not covering your bases (i.e., paper trail for the school district’s attorney).

And I wish I was exaggerating.

I’m disagreeing with @boundegar, not attacking them. They’re an adult and can take someone disagreeing with them I expect. I have not name called or said hurtful things. If I’ve stepped over my bounds in anyway, I’d expect them to say something.

I’m not talking about the teachers not being able to teach. Allowing children to mental and physically harm other children does not make a productive classroom. A teacher who is a bully does not make a productive classroom (and they will do so regardless of draconian or lax rules). A classroom where EVERYONE feels respected, valued, and safe makes for a productive classroom.


I agree, especially when they are standing up for others. Doesn’t mean that kids who don’t fight back aren’t worthy of protection or respect.


That’s fine, but not many schools actually deal with the people DOING the bullying… they tend to victim blame and tell the kid getting victimized to “not be so weird”.


I agree.

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The under-13 rule is basically boilerplate for virtually all online services(at least those with enough presence in the US that the FTC might become an issue); and always for the same reason. COPPA. If you have under-13s, you have to comply with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act. This is a pain in the ass, so the usual strategy is to ‘forbid’ them and whistle innocently as they sign up anyway.

My daughter’s in high school and we have been seeing this kind of histrionic notes from the school system since she was 6. I greatly prefer Miss Frizzle’s injunction to “Take chances! Make mistakes! Get messy!” to “bubble wrap your child”, but the schools seemed scared to promote a message other than one of protection. We handle this by having our own conversations about social media. My kid is active on Tumblr and I’m pretty sure she is up to some shenanigans but also pretty sure they do not involve inappropriate selfies that will live forever because she is very aware of those kinds of dangers and not at all interested in being trapped into that. She was the one who post-it noted over her web cam first and taught me to do it.


That’s one reason why I have regular conversations with my kids about computer stuff: sometimes I’m giving them important info they didn’t already know, and sometimes they’re giving it to ME.


Human beings aren’t rabid dogs and I detest that sort of comparison. That said, there has to be a balance. I for one do not advocate a lack of punishment or swift action where appropriate, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t also try to figure out why bullies bully. And I don’t even necessarily mean on an individual basis. But it’s important to understand the roots of violence in our society.

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