The Bully’s Excuse

I think the police in Lynn, Massachusetts are being played for saps.

The police are warning middle-school kids not to play a kicking game.  According to the police, the “game” consists of one kid walking behind another unsuspecting student and kicking him in the back of the head.  Apparently one perpetrator — who is facing charges of assault and battery — told the cops that the kick to the head was part of a game called “Big Booting.”

Yeah, right!  That sounds to me like the classic bully’s excuse when caught beating up a kid, sticking him in the back with pens, and doing the other things that make bullies such beloved figures.  Biff says “We’re just playing a game, teacher, honest!  Go ahead and tell him, Joe.  We’re just playing a game, aren’t we?” while doing whatever he can to give the victim the message that if he doesn’t go along with the story there’s a knuckle sandwich in his future.

I don’t pretend to have a good sense of what middle-schoolers are like these days, but I seriously doubt kids have suddenly decided its a fun “game” to go around kicking people in the back of the head.

Making A Federal Case Out Of It

In case you missed it, last week was the first “federal anti-bullying summit.”

According to statistics quoted at the summit, in 2007 one out of three middle school and high school students reported being bullied at some point.  Does anyone really think that percentage is greater than it was in, say, 1970?  Speaking as an overweight, pimply, glasses-wearing junior high school student of that era, I can assure you from bitter personal experience that bullying was alive and well in the America of decades gone by.  Watch A Christmas Story or Back To The Future if you don’t believe me.

So, what has changed?  Just the fact that the federal government now seems to be involved in everything.  And listen to what Arne Duncan, the Secretary of Education, had to say about the federal response to bullying, according to the article linked above:  “Duncan promised new coordination among federal agencies, better data to understand the problem and solutions, and more federal funding, especially for those schools with the greatest needs.”

So, we will try to “solve” local bullying problems by getting federal agencies more involved, doing some national-level numbers crunching, and throwing more federal bucks at the schools that apparently are the most inept at dealing with their specific bullying problems.  Does anyone else find this ridiculous, as well as pointless?

Have our local school boards and school administrators really become so feeble and pathetic that they have to look to Washington, D.C. to figure out how to deal with the playground bully?  Ralphie didn’t need the feds to tell him how to deal with Scut Farkas, and Marty managed to take care of Biff without seeking federal funding.  Wouldn’t we all be better off if our local institutions and school principals actually did their jobs and the federal government focused on issues that are truly national in scope and importance?