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Teacher Asks Kids to List Worst School Bullies

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Nobody wants their kid to be bullied, but is making students call-out offenders the right way to fix the problem? The principal of a Massachusetts school thought so. He instructed a classroom of sixth graders to list who they thought were the top bullies in their school. The survey garnered a list of six names.

kid writing list

The list was then used as a roll call to the Wire Village School cafeteria, where the alleged bullies were segregated from the other students during recess and were monitored throughout the day.

One mom, Danielle Gebo, was livid when she was notified that her son, Thomas, had made the list. Turns out, the honest kid had written his own name as one of the bullies. As he said, "I had picked on a few kids, so I wrote that I bullied some kids and I signed my name."

Finally the school's superintendent stepped in and the punishments were stopped. That may not be enough for Gebo, though: She thinks that the teacher should be disciplined for carrying out the plan -- and the principal fired.

Would you be furious if your kid was singled out as a bully?


next: I Don't Want My Kid to Be Like My Sister's
23 comments so far | Post a comment now
Anonymous April 16, 2010, 12:41 PM

I think that used correctly, having the kids identify the bullies could be a good tool. If you ask all 100 6th grader in 4 different classes who the bullies are and the same 4 names pop up, you have gotten some good information. The kids know who they are. Teachers and administrators often say they don’t know who is causing the problems. If they were alerted then they can monitor the situation. However, I would not punish off of this list.

Anonymous April 16, 2010, 12:45 PM

I actually don’t think that this is a bad idea. I think that it should be done without the kids knowing who made the list but all the teachers should be aware of who the worst bullies are and watch out for it. And as for as the mom getting upset, well sorry but sometimes the truth is just that - the truth.

Ashley  April 16, 2010, 1:27 PM

that mom was only mad bc she was ashamed that her son is horrible and didnt know what else to say but to act out in rage about the situation

Pamala April 16, 2010, 2:03 PM

So this mom is mad because her son actually told the truth and said he’s been a bully to some kids in the past. I mean good on the kid for telling the truth. Perhaps punishing these children is the way to actually go.

SS April 16, 2010, 2:48 PM

I think asking the kids to anonymously report who they think the bullies are then taking every kid who’s on most of the lists and talk to them is a great idea. I was bullied in grade school and my teacher never took me seriously. If the’d polled my school the same bullies who harassed me would have come up on 90% of those lists. Having them actually held accountable for their behavior would have been very effective at stopping it.

mom April 16, 2010, 6:40 PM

I thought the list was not a bad idea. The bad idea was then to punish the named “bullies” without due process. What did that teach the student body? In my view, nobody learned anything valuable here. Only if the school took the time to teach the “bullies” why not to bully… I watched the news clip and the boy did say he is now being called out as a bully by his peers and shunned. He said he will not bully anymore because he know now “being a bully is bad and being bullied is badder.”

Mad boomer April 16, 2010, 11:25 PM

I think it is potentially a good idea. At least bullies are monitored. Perhaps making the list means that punishment lasts one week and they get credit for good behavior. I would be shocked and hurt if my child made the list but I would look into the situation. Most bullying starts at home and it will be sticky to confront this problem. I am glad to see people try new ideas and not tolerate bullies.

JustMe April 17, 2010, 12:14 PM

I think this is great! We have just dealt with a bully in my sons 2nd gr, I fought so she would be moved but the teacher had no place to put her because she had caused Grief everywhere the princepal has but her in the office classroom. Thank god no other child will have to deal with her.

Chrissy April 17, 2010, 4:57 PM

I agree with SS’s comments.
And will add that it’s riduculous and irrational to call for the principal to be fired.
That women is a class A nutjob. Her son admitts to bullying a couple of kids and she wants someone fired?

Kim April 17, 2010, 6:16 PM

I would definitely be furious, with my son.

I think this idea has merit if used the right way… As a way to be alert to students who are causing trouble. I don;t think the children should be punished as a result of the lists. Additionally, parents of any students who show up repeatedly on the lists should be contacted. Those parents should be made aware that others see their child as a bully and allow the parents to attempt to remedy the situation.

Jackie April 18, 2010, 5:10 PM

What the principal did was not appropriate at all. If the school is having a problem with bullying (as most schools do) then the adult supervision should be ramped up — parent volunteers, etc. Kids shouldn’t be segregated or punished on the say so of other kids. When bullying behavior is conducted, that’s when consequences should be delivered. Proactive programs teaching kids what constitutes bullying and what to do about it are also good ideas.

momof4 April 18, 2010, 10:49 PM

I see where he gets it from, his mother. I think it’s a great idea, bullying has gotten majorly out of hand recently with kids killing themselves over mean things other kids do. By figuring out who the bullies are the staff can put these children in specialized programs and monitor them. If your kid is one of them, then you need to step up as a parent, not try to defend their bad behavior.

Elizabeth April 19, 2010, 7:22 AM

The mom in question should be proud of her son for turning himself in and recognizing his behavior had been wrong. There should be further talk in the home and he probably won’t turn out to be a bully.

CA Mom April 19, 2010, 10:54 AM

Danielle, from one mom to another, you need to be quiet and listen to your son while he explains why he put himself on that list. Please stop all interference at school and do yourself a favor and don’t give any more TV interviews as it has not helped your, now, national reputation.

TA in PA April 20, 2010, 7:24 AM

I work in the public school system and think that this is a fabulous idea! Identifying the bullies is only half the battle, however. Once they are identified, there needs to be some sort of intervention involving the student, parents and school. Just punishing a kid for being named on a list is wrong and sends the message that “if you bully, school will bully you back.”

It’s good to see someone in a school take the initiative to identify the bullies in the school, I just think they went about solving the issue in a very poorly thought out manner.

Sandy April 20, 2010, 8:39 AM

I think it’s a terrific idea whose time has come. Most bullied kids suffer in silence because they’re afraid to speak up. If a kid’s name appears on a list once or twice, maybe someone just doesn’t like him/her but if it shows up on multiple lists then the parents should be notified and supervision should be intensified to verify the situation.

Perhaps the teachers should have kept an eye on the potential bullies and caught them in the act rather than just act on the list. If my kid was considered a bully I would want to know - and parents who don’t want to be informed (and do something to stop the bullying) are part of the problem, not part of the solution.

JL April 20, 2010, 8:51 AM

GOOD FOR THAT PRINCIPAL! It is a wake-up call…a start..a way for the school to say, we are not going to stand for it! Bullying is not going to happen in our school! And of course the superintendent doesn’t have an answer as to how to help solve this problem! No one seems to have a solution…at least this principal made an attempted.
And don’t forget that young man who was honest! Yeah for him! His parent and the principal should be PROUD of him for stepping forward. HE needs to help the school work on ways to stop the bullying - this young man is the schools ticket to working on the problem.

Grynne April 22, 2010, 6:15 AM

I think this is a fantastic idea that needs to be tweaked. It sickens me to hear stories my daughters brings home from high school and I have access to her Facebook account and can see the progression of poor behavior for myself.
Girls are just as malicious mentally and emotionally as boys are physically. If teachers were not required to major in CYA I believe these situations would be handled sooner - before they became a newsworthy incident. Unfortunately I have found that the bully is a product of the parent and trying to address any situation is usually an eyeopener. Kudos to the teacher who had the strength of character to stand up for those who couldn’t - hope he can handle the fallout. Shame on the administrators that don’t back him up.

Celeste May 3, 2010, 3:40 PM

GREAT IDEA!! Anyone who remembers school remembers how awful certain bullies were and how teachers would most often do nothing to help. If my kid’s name was written down as a bully by her classmates, it would be a huge wake-up call. The mother who complained should spent her time teaching her kid that hurting other people should have consequences, not blaming the system for FINALLY empowering the victims with some acknowledgement and overt action.

Evon Balish January 3, 2011, 1:28 AM

Thanks for the interesting read! Happy New Year and keep up the great work in 2011!


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