Practicum Week 9: Bullying Incident

(This post was written in March…yup, I am just really LATE in these practicum updates.)

I was subbing for one of my mentors yesterday when a parent volunteer approached me with a boy behind her.  She said she’s been witnessing him verbally bullying two other kids in the media center and was wondering if I would kick him out.  He was of course very defensive and argued that he did not bully the students and that he should not get in trouble for what he said.  I felt like I was in a hard spot because I wasn’t within earshot when this happened and therefore didn’t feel like I’d have the authority to take any action (plus I hate these types of confrontations).  The parent said she’d give him another chance if he apologized, so he reluctantly went off to find the students.  After he sat back down at the computer I went over and asked to take down his name, so I can leave a note for my mentor.  At first he wouldn’t give it to me, saying he really shouldn’t get in trouble for what he did.  (I was a little shock that he wouldn’t just give it to me…that he would talk back to an adult in charge.)  I said I wasn’t out to get him in trouble, but as the sub I had to report the incident so the media specialists can address it when they come back.  I also reminded him that he was in the media center because he had a lunch pass, which was a privilege, not a right, and that the media specialists have sometimes taken passes away from students who were abusing them.  He scoffed and talked back some more (mainly about how he didn’t understand why his words would be considered a “bullying” act), but I again said this was something that the media specialists would address when they are back.

When I finally got his name (and confirmed it with one of his friends), I emailed my mentors and briefly filled them in.  I then found out that they’d had issues with this boy before, so they went ahead and forwarded my report to the principal and the counselor.  Later, at a staff meeting, teachers were reminded to use office referral forms when they are sending kids to the office or reporting an incident.  I’ve seen forms like this before at other schools and I like the idea of something formal for the teachers to submit and the parents to read and sign.  Otherwise, it ends up just being a he said, she said type situation, or the students might not take the incident as seriously.  I am waiting to hear what the administration decides to do with this particular boy, but since he’s a repeat offender I am guessing some of his privileges will be reduced.

Update: Before I left this portion of my practicum, the same boy got into trouble at least one more time, this time for altering his grades on the school district’s student portal, then printing out a copy for his parents.  He lost media center and computer privileges for 2 weeks (I think), but I am not sure if he suffered more serious consequences at home.  Incidents like this make me think hard about what I would do as a parent, if my children got involved in activities like this.  And, what would I do if I were the teacher/media specialist?  What would be some consequences that would lead to actual behavior change???



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