Elementary school’s advice to bullied students: “Don’t bother us.”

Schoolyard bullies don’t always stay that way. In fact, I’d wager that a majority of them gain perspective with maturity, grow out of whatever insecurities are driving them to inflict abuse on other children, and ultimately grow up to be decent people. That’s a separate issue from how their victims deal with the effects of bullying, but still, the bullies themselves don’t necessarily stay that way.

Then again, sometimes they refuse to grow out of their juvenile aggression as they grow older, bigger and more adept at putting an acceptable face on their abusiveness. They take jobs in school systems and form committees with other adult bullies to write “Advice for Dealing With Bullies” flyers to be sent home with vulnerable fifth-graders. Witness this fuckery from Zeman Elementary School in Lincoln, Nebraska.

These “rules” shouldn’t be labeled as advice for dealing with bullies. They should be called “Ways We Can Get You Goddamn Kids to Act So We Never Have to Deal With Your Problems Ever.” Also—did no one at this school give a second thought to the fact that children might read these rules and think this is how they should deal with bullies in their home life? Is someone in your family verbally or physically abusing you? Laugh it off! Make a joke about how ugly your sister is!

Don’t worry though, after being inundated with outraged parents, the school district responded and apologized, with a portion of a letter written by the school’s principal:

A flyer that contained inaccurate information regarding how to handle bullying situations was sent home with Zeman Elementary School fifth-graders.


Our educators at Zeman Elementary School work hard to provide accurate and appropriate lessons and education for our students in how to handle bullying situations. The flyer was sent home with good intentions, unfortunately, it contained advice that did not accurately reflect LPS best practices regarding response to bullying incidents.

The post also included a link to a better, far less shitty anti-bullying fact sheet (which apparently no one thought to Google before making this terrible flyer).

Note the weaselly use of the passive voice in the principal’s response. “Mistakes were made! We meant well, really we did!”

I have screen-capped and saved the flyer here. Proceed with caution unless you have a strong stomach for abuse-enabling bullshit.

If you don’t have a strong stomach, I’ll save you the trouble: this flyer does not contain advice to bullied children about how to keep themselves safe or make their school experiences better. It is a fetid pile of Orwellian victim-blaming. It is the result of a clutch of adult-aged bullies getting together and talking about the environment they wished had been available to them when they were kids—not so that they would’ve developed in such a way that they would’ve behaved decently to their peers in the first place!—but so they could’ve avoided the stress of thinking maybe they were doing something wrong.

I won’t let the school administration off the hook by laying this strictly at the feet of a handful of shitty people, though. The fact that this flyer went home with kids is a symptom of a school that doesn’t know how to deal with bullying and doesn’t care enough to learn how. Telling bullied kids how they might respond to their abusers can be part of a sound anti-bullying strategy, provided the advice is evidence-based, which this crap clearly isn’t. It shouldn’t be the central focus, though. Do they ever send information home to parents about the school’s anti-bullying policies, and what to expect if their kids are found abusing other kids? Do they even have anti-bullying policies aside from telling the targeted children to suck it up and act like everything’s fine? The burden for making children safe at school should not fall squarely on the shoulders of the children who are already being made unsafe. Children don’t get a choice about going to school, and they barely get a choice about where they go to school. They are required by law to attend school until at least age 16, which means they have no choice but to spend 6 hours a day, 180 days a year, in buildings along with hundreds of other kids who also didn’t ask to be there. The adults in charge of running those schools need to give a fuck about what those kids do to each other when they’re forced into dense physical proximity for the better part of the day. Adults in positions of responsibility need to stop passing the buck and start acting like responsible adults.

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Bullied Students Have No Good Options

A kid in Pennsylvania’s being treated like an offender for getting video footage of his bullies:

A 15-year old boy with ADHD, comprehension delay disorder, and an anxiety disorder recorded classmates bullying him in school. But instead of reprimanding the tormentors, school officials targeted the boy for wiretapping — and he was later convicted of disorderly conduct by a district judge.

Using an iPad, a student at South Fayette High School in Pennsylvania whose name is undisclosed, recorded a seven minute video of his peers trying to harass him. In the recording, two other students discuss pulling the victim’s pants down, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune Review. And a loud noise is heard further into the recording, after which a student said, “I was just trying to scare him.”

According to the victim, being bullied is a daily occurrence. Speaking to South Fayette District Judge Maureen McGraw-Desmet, he explained, “This wasn’t just a one-time thing. This always happens every day in that class.” He revealed that he used the iPad to expose what was happening to him. “Because I always felt like it wasn’t me being heard,” the boy told McGraw-Dismet.

The high school staff knew about the bullying prior to the iPad incident. Assistant Principal Aaron Skrbin testified that Shea Love, the victim’s mother, previously voiced concerns about the tormentors. Last October, she approached the school when a classmate targeted the victim with spitwads — but Skrbin did not “[classify] that as bullying.”

When school officials learned about the recording, Principal Scott Milburn contacted local police on February 12, for what he considered a “wiretapping incident.” After approaching the boy for questioning, South Fayette Lieutenant Robert Kurta told him to dispose of the recording, and charged him with disorderly conduct. In Pennsylvania, the low-level crime is known as a “summary offense,” and does not typically result in jail time for juveniles. Nonetheless, they can stay on a juvenile’s criminal record. McGraw-Desmet later upheld the charges, fining the student “a minimum of $25.” The 15-year old was also ordered to pay court costs. Love is currently trying to get the decision reversed.

I think it’s rather strange that they’re labeling this a “wiretapping incident,” but from the angle of the principal trying to avoid criminal liability, he does have reason for concern. It is illegal in PA to record someone without their consent. I’m sure the kid didn’t know that, however, and surely there were better ways of handling the situation.

The boy in question is ultimately being punished for his school’s inability (or refusal) to respond constructively to bullying. He and his mother tried to tell the school administration about the patterns of bullying behavior, and the school did not take them seriously. They left this vulnerable, special-needs boy to twist in the wind, and he took matters into his own hands. He behaved in a way that pre-supposed the administrators would finally take action if they saw concrete evidence of bullying behavior directed at him.

Instead, they took action against the bullying victim and continued to give the bullies space to do what they want.

It’s additionally revealing that the school decided to focus on the victim doing something unlawful, because many of the behaviors that we recognize as “bullying” when they happen between minor children at school tend to be treated as “criminal offenses” when they take place between adults outside of an educational setting. Pulling the boy’s pants down without his consent? That’s assault. “Just trying to scare him”? That’s menacing. Kids make other kids’ lives miserable every day and face no consequences for it because school staff put their heads in the sand.

(Note: I do not think it’s appropriate for schools to turn students over to law enforcement for bullying behaviors. I think these matters should be handled within the school. If the offending students do not respond to disciplinary measures, except perhaps by escalating, then it’s arguably appropriate for the police to get involved. Initially, though, it should be handled as an in-school disciplinary matter. The problem is that this school, along with most other public schools around the country, isn’t doing anything about bullying.)

But recording assault and menacing on video? That’s a matter for the police, says the principal. Mr. Milburn has no empathy for a kid who’s under attack every day. Lt. Kurta and Judge McGraw-Desmet also have no empathy. They are uninterested in protecting the safety and dignity of civilians in their jurisdiction. They care about the status quo.

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A second look at “White People on offence”

Originally posted on Crommunist:

I have had a couple of people take some exception to the central thesis of this morning’s post , specifically the idea that white people by definition cannot experience racism:

white people are far less likely (some would say it is definitionally impossible) to experience racism than are PoC. It seems preposterous to assume that you, a person with no experience in the topic under discussion, would be in a position to lecture someone about that topic.

I want to take a careful look at the above quoted claim, and then attempt to respond to the criticisms in a satisfactory matter.

The easiest way for me to weasel out of the problem is to point out that I specifically use the words “some would say”, passing the burden of a response off to those “some”. I’m sure my critics wouldn’t find such a response particularly satisfactory, and neither do I. However…

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Deep Thoughts: I am the opposite of Princeton Mom

The email-hacking situation is still open. Haven’t had another incident since Sunday, but that’s not really an achievement, now is it?

Anyway, a thought occurred to me on the way home tonight.

I am the anti-matter opposite of Susan Patton. (If the name is unfamiliar: here you go.)

It’s not exactly Big News that I disagree with her on some things—we’re hearing about her because a lot of people take serious issue with her!—but if Mrs. Patton could see my life, she’d probably use me as an example of That Woman You Don’t Want to Be.

I was posting on my Facebook author page the other night about what I’m up against as a novelist with a full-time job, and basically the only thing that’s better for me now than it was this time last year is that now I’m single.

Recap: I’m in my 30s, childless, and not even trying to find a husband. I’m prioritizing my writing career over finding a smart man to marry before my fertility disappears in a puff of dust.

So the idea struck me this evening on the way home: not only am I living my life in exactly the way Mrs. Patton thinks is a disaster for any self-respecting woman, I think she’s full of shit in every way that counts and the world would be better off with fewer people who think the way she does.

I think women receive quite enough advice and guidance on finding a partner, and keeping him, already. The last thing we need is yet another book exhorting us to place potential husbands at the center of our existence. OTOH, I think the world’s men could use some guidance on interacting with women and maintaining relationships, beyond what they currently get. (If you asked for my thoughts on the conclusion of my last relationship, for example, “I didn’t try hard enough” would NOT be among my regrets.)

I think it’s okay if a woman prioritizes her professional life over husband-catching and baby-making. If she wants to pursue a demanding career, she might not have any options except to delay family life until she’s brought her professional life over a certain hump. It sure would be nice if we could have kids young without being penalized for it in the job market, but we are penalized, so we have to choose our battles and figure out which option sucks the least. If some women don’t get a chance to have the children they want because they’re too busy kicking ass and making things happen, that’s not the end of the world.

I think it’s okay if some women just don’t get married. To anyone. Ever. Even if we leave non-heterosexual women out of the picture, and assume that everyone really wants the nuclear family lifestyle in the single-family home with the two-car garage, it’s okay if some of us don’t do that. There are some men out there who don’t treat women well, no matter how hard those women try to make those men happy. There are some men who are irresponsible, immature, overly entitled or even abusive, and it’s not their potential wives’ responsibility to turn them into better people. If there aren’t enough “good men” for all the women who are available, then some women will be single. And we can be awesome that way.

Don’t even get me started on Princeton Mom’s shooting off her mouth about rape victims. I’m not too ladylike to make a scene that’ll haunt your dreams.

I don’t think teenage girls should resolve their body-image problems with cosmetic surgery. I think society needs to stop teaching women to hate themselves starting in defenseless girlhood, and I think surgery at a too-young age will only further complicate most women’s body image.

I think more students, of both genders, should spend their college years studying hard and learning as best they can. If we must spend so much money on higher education, that time should be devoted to getting educated, not to getting married.

I think that having no partner at all is better than having an unsupportive partner. (If I had to sum up Why I’m Still Single in a few words, it would be those.) I think it’s okay for women to expect certain things in terms of how their male partners treat them, and if the men aren’t interested in meeting those expectations, those women haven’t failed at life when they tell those men to fuck off. I think it’s okay for women to have interests and ambitions that don’t center around their husbands, and they have the right to seek partners who respect those interests and support those ambitions. If no such partners are available, then it’s okay to be single. Really, it’s okay. I think that’s the central difference between someone like Princeton Mom and someone like me. Given the choice between having a shitty relationship with a selfish, inadequate partner, and having no relationship at all, I think that being single is not only acceptable, it is cause for celebration.

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I will find you, and I will cut you off.

My email account got hijacked last night. Again. This makes 4 times in just over 5 weeks. It didn’t create a post here, as I disabled email posting after the second incident.

I was sick for much of last week, so I didn’t get much accomplished. I was hoping to resume exercise last night, but that went out the window when I found out about the latest email hijacking. Instead, I spent all evening and stayed up well past my bedtime in getting all my online memberships transferred over to different email accounts. It seems that basically NOTHING I do can keep the hackers out. Trust me, I’ve done plenty already. They’re still coming back, and they’re still sending garbage to long lists of people with messages in my inbox, many of which messages are several years old. It’s rather embarrassing to log into Yahoo and find Out of Office replies from literary agents you queried back in 2009 and haven’t contacted since. The only thing that appears to be changing is the group of people who get the spam. They all have in common that they’ve had some email communication with me at some point.

So, unless someone can give me some better advice, and so far no suggestion I’ve heard has been useful at all, my email account is getting shut down as soon as I can get everything transferred elsewhere. This is not entirely straightforward, as there are some memberships that cannot be assigned a new email address without help from their end. I don’t really care to make my Smashwords account inaccessible, for example.

Until I cut off these parasites’ blood supply, my first priority will be devoted to closing my email account to further business. I expect to be crankier than usual even after this shit is over and done with.


Your voice speaks English but your face says otherwise.

See the previous post? Still wondering what exactly the problem is, and when I’ll take that stick out of my ass and stop punishing someone for being friendly? There’s also this shit here:

White privilege is when you don’t get ask by your teacher if you are in ESL and need a translator even though he has heard me speak fluent English and then proceeds to ask if I speak Chinese

This kind of prejudice can interfere with a kid’s pursuit of an education. When you play “Guess the ethnicity!” via use of foreign languages, and expect us to act like it’s no big deal because you’re “just” “trying” to be “friendly”? You’re contributing to a larger problem. Knock it off.

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“You live in America, SPEAK ENGLISH!”

I just found this little tale of “Guess the ethnicity!” on Microaggressions:

While in a hotel restroom at a teacher conference, a middle aged lady came up to me and said “HI” in Mandarin, Japanese, and Korean, then asked, “Did I get any of those right? Are you one of those?”

When I responded that there are many other Asian countries out there with different languages, she proceeded to gush that “It’s so nice to see one of you people not working in a nail salon and speak good English.” I told her I spoke English well, and it’s a damn shame the future generation has to learn from people like her.

Teacher-lady knows how to say “Hi” in three different Asian languages, but doesn’t know well enough not to be an asshole to a random stranger in the ladies’ room.

Look, folks, just…don’t do that. You don’t need to guess a total stranger’s ethnicity. You don’t need to be clever whenever you see a person who might be from somewhere else. Heck, how do you know I’m not from somewhere else? If you haven’t heard me speak yet, how do you know I’m not German or Swedish? Some people of Asian ethnicity are native-born U.S. citizens, and of those, many don’t even speak any languages outside of English. But it’s only people of color who are assumed, sight unseen, to be newcomers to this country, and who are treated like rare exotic animals for having a solid command of the English language. No one (in this country) comes up to someone who looks like me and says “Hi” in three different Northern European languages, followed by the question of “Are you one of those?” White people can rest assured that our place in American society won’t be challenged.

I see there’s at least one reblogger on Tumblr who calls the original poster a “bitch” and insists that the teacher is “just trying to be friendly.”

How does anyone get the idea in her head that the way to be “friendly” to a total stranger whose path she crosses in the restroom is to spray a bunch of foreign languages at her and then demand to know if she’s “one of those”? How does anyone think this is welcome behavior? Based on her comments about “you people” and “working in a nail salon,” I assume teacher-lady isn’t well-acquainted with any Asian people, but if this is her idea of friendliness, she’s not going to make many new friends outside of her racial group.

Intent is not magic, and even if teacher-lady thought she was “just” being “friendly” to the random Asian woman in the restroom, that doesn’t mean her approach was acceptable. It doesn’t mean the original poster on Microaggressions is obligated to act like this doesn’t bother her. The message behind this type of communication is to tell the possibly-foreign person: “You are a stranger in this land. You don’t belong here. Don’t forget.” I’ve been on that side of the foreign/native line myself. During my Peace Corps assignment, the games of “Guess the Ethnicity!” and “HOLY SHIT I SEE A FOREIGNER” dominated my life basically every time I left the house. I know what it’s like to be treated as the “exotic” one, and let me tell you: it sucks so incredibly hard. It is obnoxious and exhausting as fuck. I, at least, had the advantage of actually being a foreigner, and knowing I was only there for 27 months before I would go home and be treated like a normal human again. This kind of attention in Western countries is regularly directed at people who’ve lived here all their lives, or close enough to it, and have no plans of moving anywhere else. The OP is not a “bitch” for trying to enforce her boundaries. She does not need to “take the stick out of her ass.” She’s not in the wrong.

If you must be friendly to a total stranger in the ladies’ room (and I don’t see what’s so difficult about peeing, washing your hands and getting out of the way), why not just say: “Hi. Are you here with the conference? Where/what do you teach? Oh, what a cute purse!”?


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Caulking in Her Cock Vault: A New and Improved Chateau Heartiste Crib Sheet of Game


LOOK AT THIS: “to old-school PUA cliches like “I don’t buy girls drinks but you can buy me one” and “what else do you have going for you besides your looks?” both of which come straight from peacocking PUA pioneer Mystery,”

“What else do you have going for you besides your looks?”

Oh, dear, that is basically punching yourself. My online dating profile includes a clause that specifically repels exactly this type of user, for exactly this reason. I can tell which guys haven’t actually read my profile based on how they respond to (or totally ignore) my “I don’t want to hear about my looks” line. It DOES help to filter out the doucherockets.

Originally posted on we hunted the mammoth:

Don't let anyone see you checking your notes!

Don’t let anyone see you checking your notes!

So our dear friend Heartiste, the white-supremacist woman-botherer, has assembled a little “Chateau Heartiste Crib Sheet of Game,” a compilation of some of his best pickup advice, boiled down to a few handy tips and clever one-liners that wannabe alpha males can use on the ladies during conversation in order to get their ginas tingling. (Sorry, that’s the way these guys talk.)

Looking at Heartiste’s list of “lines” I was struck by how generic and, well, frankly unoriginal most of them were, from standard issue negs like “nice shoes. Those are really popular now” and “is she always like this?” to old-school PUA cliches like “I don’t buy girls drinks but you can buy me one” and  “what else do you have going for you besides your looks?” both of which come straight from peacocking PUA pioneer Mystery, the guy…

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The Cartoon Hate Cult has Lost its Patriarch

Or, rather, they chucked him out some months ago.

The news has just broken that Fred Phelps, founder of the Westboro Baptist Church, has died in hospice care at age 84.

Out of consideration for his son Nathan Phelps, and other estranged family members, I am not bouncing in glee. I don’t fault those who are bouncing in glee, but for the sons and daughters whom he terrorized and abused, the matter is not so simple.

Besides, it sure would be nice to say the world just became a better place, but really, there’s plenty more hate and bigotry where he came from. WBC is still around. They kicked him out last August, but they didn’t fall apart.

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Missing the point AND proving it.

I mentioned the #UpForDebate tag on Twitter last night? Today I found this in my mentions.

You know I'm not really asking to compost Grampa, right?

You know I’m not really asking to compost Grampa, right?

The earlier commenter is also a participant in the discussion. The second commenter appears not to be.

The hashtag is used as a sort of Modest Proposal debate technique, in which we start tossing out “ideas” that we know perfectly well are horrible and offensive, and tag them with “up for debate,” as if there is any room for these atrocities in a civilized discussion.

The point is, that’s how it looks to us when we’re expected to “debate” reproductive freedom as if it’s just an interesting thought experiment and not a serious matter concerning our quality of life.

As for why I specified “retired white people,” specifically…yeah, there’s a reason for that, too. White people, qua whites, are not used to having our human rights put up for debate. There are other axes of oppression, of course! Many of us are affected by some degree and some combination of heterosexism, misogyny, transphobia, poverty, ableism, and regionalism. But simply as white people, our bodies are not for anyone else to exploit, destroy, neutralize or marginalize. People of color, especially blacks, have not been so lucky. (See also, for example.) When we’re in a situation in which some lives are considered not worth keeping around anymore, do not pretend that whites are in the same boat, and in just as deep, as everyone else. I specified retired white people, and not just elderly people in general, because I knew it would be especially shocking, precisely because it really is a break from the status quo.

And, of course the second commenter jumps in to prop up the status quo. No, don’t talk about hurting us, she says. Let’s talk about hurting everyone else.


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