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How Bullies Are Made

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My son is being menaced by an encephalitic, dimwitted, maladjusted bully. Bear in mind, my son is only 14 months old and the bully is 19 months old. While the entire concept seems absurd, rest assured this is a real problem.

For the past couple months, it seems like every other day we pick up Alex from the nursery school, there is an incident report to sign. These are state-mandated forms that any accredited child care facility is responsible for administering when an “incident” has occurred in their care. An incident might be defined as any injury or accident where first aid steps were necessary. In Alex’s case, the incidents have been bites, bumps, scratches to the eye and the latest, a laceration of the face. Bleeding!! My baby boy came home with a scratch that was bleeding.

While I want so much to blame the child responsible for this behavior, I have to keep reminding myself that he is only 19 months old. He can’t talk, he just recently learned to walk, he shows no signs of being superior in any way other than the fact that he towers over the other children in this group. Basically he looks like a three year old and acts like a troglodyte. His outward behavior is EXTREMELY aggressive. From the moment he was mobile, he became a toy-hoarding, toy-stealing, pushing, grabbing, scratching, hitting, WWF wrestling maniac.

BUT, the real problem in this case is the parents. The Bully Dad is an arrogant man, the kind who brags about how much money he makes, how big their house is, and how his child is perfect. The Bully Mom is a bossy, snobbish, selfish person who spends more time attending to her clothes and makeup than her own child.

They drop Bully off the moment the center opens and rarely ever pick him up prior to the center closing – they essentially leave their son there for twelve hours a day. In fact, over the holidays the mom was off on vacation for two weeks and didn’t spend one of those days with her son. She was busy shopping, having manicures, working out or pursuing whatever selfish desire that struck her fancy. To make matters worse, when Frankenbully became sick and had explosive diarrhea during this vacation, she about blew a gasket that she had to come in and pick her little caveman up.

These people suck. They are the worst kind of muggles.

But what really sticks in my craw is that this is just the beginning of what we have all at some point witnessed in our lives: a blind eye turned toward bullies. The director of the center is trying her best to deal with the situation, a very delicate one no doubt, but ultimately she is trying to protect the bully AND Alex. Why? Why do we as a society feel the need to show any mercy for bullies? I ask the same question about our legal system. Why do we bother to rehabilitate when the rate of recidivism is proof positive that most violent criminals can’t be retrained to not act like murdering savages.

Everyone wants to protect the criminal at the sacrifice of the victim, when in reality, the only person who counts is the victim. My son didn’t ask to have his eyes scratched out or to be bitten. And rest assured, whenever he repeats this behavior at home — and he has from time to time — it is taken very seriously.

These parents (and there are many like them, in fact behind every bully is a parent who believes their child can do no wrong) feel that it’s the victims fault for their child acting in an aggressive way. Just today when the Bully Dad was called about his son attacking another child, his response was “Well, did such and so take a toy from Frankenstein? What did the other child do to my Perfect Monster? You know, he needs naps don’t you?”

What horseshit! Honestly, what I would really like to see is for Alex, who is also a big kid, to knock this little doofus on his ass and then I would like to see Eric pound Frankendad’s face into the dirt and kick his fatass down the street for being so unable to be a decent dad or human being..

Alas, that would be lowering ourselves to the level of the Bully Family.

Shouldn’t I at least have another seven or eight years to worry about this kind of crap? If this isn’t the sign of Armageddon then what is?

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About Dawn Olsen

  • next time you sign Alex up for something, you and eric should more carefully read the sign….maybe the “Future Young Republicans Daycare” just isn’t for you!


  • Albanesse

    I had the same thing with my oldest son. In Kindergarten a boy decided to spit on him… not a huge thing, but it seems it was a habit. The first I heard of it was when the boy was made to write an apology.. which made no sense since he was in friggin’ kindergarten. When I asked teach about the boy and that he be kept away from my son, well this is how it went.

    Dad – so, how is it with that boy and the spitting, now?

    Ms. G – it’s fine… it should be okay.

    Dad – I am just surprised that a child would do that…

    Ms. G – well, you have to understand he is a very intelligent child.

    Dad – what… ?

    Ms. G – he is just bored and acts out.

    Dad – so, he’s not taught social skills and not to spit?

    Ms G – no, he is just very, very smart.

    Dad – my son is smart, doesn’t spit

    Ms G – well, this boy is…

    Dad – when I think of spitting I think of not so smart. I don’t want him near my son.

    Ms G – he is just a smart boy and he wont do it again.

    And here she went off to another subject.

    See, my is not a lumbering twinkie fed, glazed over eyes sort of kid… just a sweet kid. But I guess he was not smart enough… if only he drooled a little…

  • Eric Olsen

    I know this is a very difficult situation for the school since they try to keep everyone happy, but I do not want to minimize this and I totally believe it’s up to the teachers to do whatever they have to do to isolate the miscreant. And it isn’t just our son, the blockhead interacts poorly with all the kids AND the teachers. I am told he is moving up to hte next class soon since he is considerably older and larger than the other kids in the baby class, and it is there that he will be rather abruptly socialized, with prejudice, as he finds himself the smallest rather than the largest, and his freakishly large noggin will not avail him there.

    Based upon parental heritage, I am also quite confident that within the next few years Alex will surpass the young sociopath in both height and girth as well as determination and athleticism, and will be in the position of dictating terms of engagement, so to speak.

  • While he clearly needs to be dealt with for the benefit of the other kids, I kinda feel sorry for the poor, unparented little dude. I saw plenty of kids like this when my son was in daycare — the kids who are left there for 10 hours a day and more often than not are dropped off and picked up by an au pair or nanny. Always made me wonder why the parents bothered having kids in the first place.

  • For the tax benefits, perhaps

    I joke, I joke! My joke is not working….

  • Eric Olsen

    At 19 months you have to feel sorry for the little lumbering blockhead, it’s true; but from small sociopaths do large sociopaths grow. Dawn may have exaggerated and emphasized a point here and there for the benefit of the rant, but she is dead on when it comes to what staggering assplows the parents are. Surely at this point it isn’t too late, but if they don’t pull their outrageously self-absorbed heads out of their asses, they will have a real problem on their hands

  • My experience with such parents, Eric, is that they usually don’t recognize the problem until it’s too big to deal with easily. The little guy is going to have a very difficult time of it, I’m guessing.

  • Eric Olsen

    and those around him, which is even more unfair

  • dietdoc

    D.A. writes:

    “My experience with such parents, Eric, is that they usually don’t recognize the problem until it’s too big to deal with easily. The little guy is going to have a very difficult time of it, I’m guessing.”

    Reply: I am guessing so as well. Hopefully, but I am almost certain I am wrong, this is the couple’s first (and last) child. Parenting, I observe, has become a hobby to the current childbearing generation, not a job.

  • Dawn

    Well, in case this isn’t disturbing enough, they are expecting twins. What galls me the most about all of this is that there are good-hearted people out there who would love to dote on and otherwise love this child or any child for that matter, but due to circumstances out of their control, they can’t have kids.

    Then you have these two fuppies who can’t be bothered to even spend time with the one they have and they are choosing to procreate AGAIN.

    I would love to have lots of kids in theory, as I find them as much fun as a basket of kittens, but they are also a hell of a lot of work and the job of parenting is not to be taken lightly.

    As the director told me today when discussing this situation, “Unfortunately Dawn, you aren’t like most parents.” To that I say, “Geez, that’s sad, because I am not really all that great of a parent.”

    But, as is evident, there are worse.

  • Eric Olsen

    “it’s not a job, it’s an adventure,”

    or in this case, a chore best pawned off on others

  • Your point “I ask the same question about our legal system. Why do we bother to rehabilitate when the rate of recidivism is proof positive that most violent criminals can’t be retrained to not act like murdering savages.. While people who contravene the social contract are and should be punished, the approach of ‘locking the door and throwing away the key’ has had far too many abuses in human history for it to be a viable solution to the problem.

    Recidivism, relapse, etc are controlled by involvement in social causes. Individualized and non-punitive treatment is more effective than ‘spare the rod’ approaches.

    Also, it is a bit early to write the kid off – he’s only 19 months. Then again, I would probably do the same if I saw a kid like that.

    Growing up, we were used to physical punishment (caning) as a form of control/education – hasn’t hurt us in the long run. Juvenile delinquency is also signficantly less in the Indian school system.

    Hope you work this out – that kid needs a tight whack!

  • The transitional age between 18 months and 3 years can be very difficult for a lot of kids if they are in a group environment like a daycare. We put our daughter in daycare part time starting at 18 months and she almost immediately became the target of a bully who resented the fact that he was 2 and yet our 18 month old could talk to the teachers in complete sentences and he couldn’t. So his response was to bite her whenever possible. He would literally head for her, teeth out, as she came in the door, prepared to bite any bits that stuck out. Their solution was to move our daughter in with older, more verbal kids and it seemed to work. The inarticulate biter seems to behave allright among his own kind.

    I guess the point is that kids at that age develop in radically different ways, and the chronological age means much less than things like physical size and verbal and communications skills. Daycares should stay away from dividing kids up based on chronological age and should try to put those with similar skills together instead. It’s probably more work for them, but the result is a more harmonious environment.

    Of course, the bully of the original post may just be a rotten apple from a bad tree, but if they get him in with kids of similar size and level of physicality he won’t be able to get away with bullying and might get straightened out despite his parents.


  • Every tree needs its rotten apple, methinks

  • Eric Olsen

    every rose has a thorn

  • bhw

    Thank you, THANK YOU, Eric, for planting that friggin’ tune in my head, where it will remain for the rest of the day.

    You suck.

  • Eric Olsen

    ear worm

  • Dawn

    It’s never too early to write someone off. In fact 19 months is a great place to start.

  • Two word sfor you son to learn:

    Diaper Wedgies

  • Dawn

    You know, I was thinking about the choice between having a son who was a mouth-breathing, knuckle-cracking bully and a namby-pamby sissy – I will take the sissy any day. As good looking as my son is, he can work that sensitive geek thing and score bigtime with the ladies.

    No one wants to date a jerky blockheaded Frankenstein freak. Excluding his mother obviously.

  • Sydney

    Speaking as a teacher, I can offer my perspective on the matter of bullying.

    Firstly, let me say that teachers see it All the time in high school and if we see it in the class room we should all be dealing with the bully in the most severe manner. Most teachers try to do this. On the other hand I’ve noticed a lot of teachers just don’t think it’s their job to assist in socializing kids. Personally I think schools primary function is to help develop good citizens, so I tend to use every opportunity to reinforce this ideal.

    However, part of the problem is that many teachers have been ‘burned’ many times by parents who give them shit for scolding their kid etc. Many, many, parents are totally unreasonable with teachers and jump at the opportunity to really tell them off. Often the parent has no rational thought behind their argument except that they’ve been led to believe your an idiot and they have an ax to grind.

    In the majority cases parents come in to the discussion under the impression that this is a teacher vs. child battle. On top of this, many parents have painful associations with high school of their own and are predisposed to dislike teachers. Anyway it only takes a few of these confrontations and some teachers (admittedly lazy, or weak ones) get really cynical and just give up on trying to teach kids ethical values etc. As such this sort of teacher is more likely to ignore the bullying behaviour and just focus on teaching content. Sounds horrible I know, but the practical reality is that this is very tempting since in the high school setting, bullying is around you ALL THE TIME. AS a teacher you have to pick your battles and focus on the incidents that seem most damaging. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be able to walk from the classroom to the staff room with out disciplining 10 kids. Moreover, you’d ruin your rapport with the students. Anyway believe in doing as much of it as is reasonable possible.

    Parents have most control over these matters and they have to pre-empt the development of bad conduct in their children. Within the school context, the best way to do this is to communicate with your child’s teachers. Call them at the beginning of the semester and once or twice in between. Give the teacher your support, ask how your child is doing, ask where they could improve both academically and socially. Teachers often know a side of children that their parents don’t see, namely, how they socialize with their peers. Also, I have to say that there is nothing that motivates a teacher to really work with a child more than the knowledge that they have concerned parents. This way we don’t feel are efforts are in vain. Parents are the key to their children’s education, teachers are merely the catalyst.

    In my opinion there needs to be a program which educates parents on how to work with the education system to achieve there child’s goals. To me, the center of this program would be communication between parent and teacher.

  • Eric Olsen

    excellent and important thoughts Sydney, thanks, you’re one of the good ones

  • sydney

    “Growing up, we were used to physical punishment (caning) as a form of control/education – hasn’t hurt us in the long run. Juvenile delinquency is also signficantly less in the Indian school system.”

    Nonsense, the research overwhelmingly suggests physical discipline does NOTHING to reform bad behavior. Sure, the bad kid won’t act up in class again, but he’ll internalize that aggression and take it out two-fold on someone else later (either on his friends, his girlfriend, other kids in the school yard, or even his own children years down the road).

    Their are techniques to use on bullies that involve coaching and anger control. Their is a lot of success with them, however, most teachers don’t have the time to implement them. Schools will occasionally use an anti-bullying program and focus on two or three really bad apples and help coach them out of the behavior. It takes a lot of time and patience though, something most teachers have little of under the current system (not whining… just calling it as I see it)

  • sydney

    Thanks Eric..

    got to work on my spelling and grammar though..

    there, not their.

  • in the piece i wrote on bullying in the workplace among adults/esp. womena and some of the same issues may apply, if you want to check it out.

    on the other hand, wanting to just smash this other kid is also understandable or more likely, the parents who sound like real terrors and the the origin of the problem.

    Bullies are everywhere and sadly the only way to win, if such anthing is possible, is to be stronger and to stand up for yourself and be tough. there’s no reasoning or logic to it; one hates to stoop and we’re talking about kids here too, so it’s even harder, but basically, it’s between you and the parents of the other kid — you’ll do the right thing; just stay strong and check out some of the UK bullying sites. In Europe, bullying is a punishable offense by law, which is a truly refreshing thing to see, i think. it’s taken as seriously as sexual harassment or asssault because ten percent of the victims of bullies attempt suicide, studies show and an alarming number suffer from depression…

    check out the links posted in my article above. They should be at the end. IF not, let me know and i’ll find them for you.

    Hang tough and thinking of you…It sucks when you have to be a thug just to get through the day…


  • Some answers to the basic question in the post: “How Bullies Are Made”

    > over-indulgent parents
    > abusive environments
    > malicious kids (a la “Lord Of the Flies”)
    > Social patterns imprinting on the child
    > Inadequate control/oversight in the school – by teachers/administration

  • One idea: get some “cousin billy” teeth at the dollar store, wear them when you meet the progenitors of the sprog in question, point and yell: “yep, that there are good eatin'”

    And give them a VHS copy of “The Hills Have Eyes”.

  • I agree with the comments posted above that this matter should be taken up by the teacher with the parents and if the parents act like pitbulls then the adminstration should step in and remove the child from the daycare ie if it is a good daycare and not a money making machine.

  • Eric Olsen

    the parents are in no way intimidating, just way too busy sniffing their own sphincters to pay much attention to anything else, especially their large-headed son. Did I mention the engorged cranium?

  • RJ

    “Geez, that’s sad, because I am not really all that great of a parent.”

    Your humility speaks volumes.

    You are clearly a FINE parent, in that you care about the emotional well-being of your child. Your kid does not deserve to be bullied at such a young age, or ANY age for that matter.

    And you have already recognized this. Good for you.

    I don’t have kids (that I know of, haha), but I would be damn pissed about such a situation.

    I recommend a change of environment.

    If this is not possible, I recommend teaching your offspring to maim all who dare oppose him. The best way to quiet a bully is through violence. Ironic, I know. But I’ve seen it work.

  • Duane

    Just from a practical standpoint, I (like you) would be fucking furious if my toddler kid came home with injuries inflicted on him by another kid. I would insist that the teachers simply keep the knuckledragger away from my son (also an Alex). Why can’t they do that? If I had responsibility for a group of babes, I would be mortified if one of them got injured on my watch. I would be hyper-sensitive to the situation and do my very best to see that it didn’t happen again. Why can’t they do that? It’s not like the kids are out on the playground out of the teacher’s sight.

  • bhw

    Maybe the daycare will understand an economic argument best. If you and a few other parents assert that you’re going to pull your children out if the school doesn’t make some sort of change right away, then maybe the school will finally act. They’d probably rather kick one family out — even one with two more kids on the way — than lose a few other families, especially if the one set of parents isn’t “getting it” and won’t try to help their child overcome this aggression.

  • Sydney: On the other hand I’ve noticed a lot of teachers just don’t think it’s their job to assist in socializing kids.

    When I first started in as a parent over a decade ago I realized pretty quickly that the main value of school was socialization, especially in the earlier grades. I know I can teach the kids better than most teachers are likely to be able to do in a normal classroom environment. What I can’t do is BE another kid and be a bully to be dealt with or a tattle-tale or a thief or a good peer friend. I can describe those things from my own experience, but that just doesn’t seem to sink in as well as personal experience.

    So, teachers who don’t think overseeing socialization is their job don’t seem like a whole lot of use to me, and my unfortunate observation is that this attitude becomes more and more common in the higher grades.


  • So, teachers who don’t think overseeing socialization is their job don’t seem like a whole lot of use to me, and my unfortunate observation is that this attitude becomes more and more common in the higher grades.

    No Child Left Behind has pretty much wiped clean any left feelings of wanting to help the child socialize, most likely. No Child Left Behind doesn’t test for socialization skills, so why would anybody devote time teaching them? Nobody’s rewarding (funding/paying) teachers to work on socialization skills.

    I happen to agree with your sentiment, Dave especially this:

    I realized pretty quickly that the main value of school was socialization

    which surprises me as to why you would support No Child Left Behind. It doesn’t even test for what you, yourself realize is a very important part of school. It doesn’t give school any motivation to deal with bullies like the one in that day care.

  • Am I missing something here….

    Your son is fifteen months old and comes home with bites, bumps scratches and is obviously being physically assaulted.

    Then the next morning you take him in again, and again, and again.

    I hear all you are saying about the bully’s parents but what message are you sending to your son.

    Your job is protect your child, yet you put your need for daycare ahead of his need for protection.

    Take the log out of your own eye and all that.

  • Steve:

    When did I say I supported No Child Left Behind? It hasn’t worked well here in Texas and there’s no reason for it to work nation wide.

    I do support school choice, but that’s an entirely different issue, and one which can actually have major benefits for the kids.


  • Shark

    Interesting thread, common problem.

    I’m w/Duane, (see also M.Peach) tho. My immediate reaction is “Take the child out of that place!”

    Bullying of any sort is bad enough, but when it crosses over into the physical realm w/injuries and such, it’s way past time to take some major action.

    I’d pull my child in a heartbeat.

  • Shark

    BTW: you do have to feel sorry for Elephant Boy, too. Part of the problem probably stems from his long hours spent in day care.


    Day care [a plague upon our nation] should be a last last last resort for a parent, imo. Especially the first 2 years. You’re pretty much tossing a coin as to the influences on your child’s development.

  • Eric Olsen

    all good points, some of which require correctives.

    I am aware of three or four incident reports over several months, ie about one a month, the most recent incident with the bleeding scratch is by far the most serious. And we responded by separately making a large stink about it: Dawn with the “management,” I with the attendant teachers. I do not feel our concerns have been taken lightly.

    We love this school — which IS a school as opposed to merely a warehousing facility — which is at the absolute high end of the scale, and we pay dearly for the privilege, by the way.

    We know the management very well, consider many of the past and current teachers to be friends, have seen the care taken in hiring the “right” kind of employees and how much effort goes into providing a stimulating, nurturing, caring environment. The school is a godsend and the parents know it.

    Our daughter has gone there since she was 18 months and has benefitted greatly from the socialization, the friendships, the extremely positive relationships with a number of adults, the organized activities. We also limit our kid’s time-spent to about 7 hours a day, which seems to be a reasonable time for all involved.

    As with millions of others, we don’t have the option of not working, both of us, and we are extremely grateful to have found such a tremendous partner — for we do think of the school that way — in the rearing of our younger children. I know very well from painful experience the ramifications of a lesser environment.

  • bhw

    Some good points, Shark. On top of what you’re saying, parents are having fewer and fewer “school choices” for day care, because smaller day care companies are being bought out by larger ones. And then the larger ones are merging.

    Knowledge Beginnings and Kindercare are merging, and they’re two of the big providers across the country. The quality of Kindercare is already poor compared to what you can often find in a small, private day care center, in my opinion, in no short part because it has become corporatized and less personalized. It’s only going to get worse as the new giant company “streamlines costs” to increase profits.

    This same problem will arise in K-12 education, as well, if Bush’s dream of privatizing it comes to pass. You think public education is bad? Wait ’till you get for-profit corporate education as your only choice.

  • bhw

    I should also add that it’s just not that easy to pull your kid out of day care, even if there’s a problem like the one Alex is experiencing.

  • Shark

    Eric: “As with millions of others, we don’t have the option of not working…”

    I understand. It’s sad but true.

    Perhaps the “GOP – Family Values” crowd can help out on this…?


  • Shark—how many children do you have?

  • Eric Olsen

    I agree entirely that the current system is a grotesque parody of “family values,” but I’m also not sure of how we collectively pay for a better one. The “successful” social welfare states of Scandinavia, for example, are small, homogenous, prosperous societies. We are very different.

  • A book I’ve been reading, “The Two-Income Trap”(0465090826) addresses these issues squarely. May I recommend this book to you Eric?

    Many issues are addressed in the book, but the essence is the disappearing ‘safety-net’ of the stay-at-home mom.

    Eric, I do not understand from your most recent comment why an excellent school would not raise the issue with the bully’s parents and ask them to address the problem or take the child out. I know that our child’s preschool had a clause in the agreement to that effect.

  • It also talks about publicly-funded daycare for specific categories of parents (single mothers, for example), and Hilary Clinton’s flipflops on certain family issues post her election(the bankruptcy bill)

  • Eric Olsen

    the two-income trap is one we are in very happily right now after fairly recently living through both the “zero-income” and “one-income” traps

    As I said, we both made a stink about this and the administrator had already called the mother on her own. She informed us she would continue to “hound” the mother until either the behavior changed or she fled the school.

    Also, as I mentioned, the boy is being moved up to an older group shortly, where he will have to modify his behavior or be pounded into submission by bigger kids.

  • Great! Sounds like the right steps are being taken

    Move along everyone – nothing to see here:)

  • Eric Olsen

    probably the moral here is that such things arise even in the best of environments, so you can imagine what a problem it is in less ideal situations

  • Dawn

    Well, there is no need to move along, because I see a bigger issue here than just my son.

    As an aside, I was championed and congratulated by the teachers of my son’s group this morning, apparently my “shitfit” had the desired affect and they are pleased that the issue that they themselves have been complaining about for months is being handled in a very “aggressive” way. Like Eric said, at this point the administration is sick of the parents and either they fix their kid or they leave.

    My major issue is that bullying is an all too common occurrence and as someone above stated (Aaman or Sadi I think) the causational affects of bullying can have truly detrimental consequences on the child being bullied.

    I can distinctly remember being bullied in school by both genders and it was a dark period in my otherwise unremarkable lower education history. I had symptoms of depression, loathing of school, a lack of desire to learn and a fear of trying new things.

    I in essence was a prisoner in my own life. And it’s important to note, I am NOT a shy person, a small person, or an easily intimidated person. In fact as time went on, I became a protector of the small and meek which I am sure was a direct result of the bullying I experienced.

    I was one of the lucky ones.

    I think the problem with our society is that we don’t identify with the victim, because they are perceived as weak, but rather we emphasis and encourage the brutish mentality and in many ways foster and protect those who display aggressive and intolerant behavior.

    Just look think about it. Here are some examples; overt aggression toward other nations, violent athletes as role models, intolerance of those who have different lifestyles, the total lack of concern for violent images portrayed on T.V., but a pseudopuritan clamp down on anything sexual.

    Our society is fucked up at it’s core -that is really the message I was trying to convey.

    These parents don’t see their child as flawed, they seem him as superior because he can beat the shit out of those smaller than himself.

    It’s infuriating. It makes a meek person want to rise up and kill something.

  • Dawn, I didn’t mean that literally – I do agree this is an important issue.

    I, for one, value brains over brawn any day – mainly for personal reasons. Historically, brains have had more value in getting a person ahead than just being a brute anyway.

  • Parents with Neanderthal mentality do great disservice to their kids. No one likes to hang around a bully; be it a 19 months old cherub or an testosterone driven 19 years old teenager.

  • Sydney

    Nalle: “So, teachers who don’t think overseeing socialization is their job don’t seem like a whole lot of use to me, and my unfortunate observation is that this attitude becomes more and more common in the higher grades.”

    The problem is not that teachers don’t think school should be a socializing process. In fact most recognize this is of key importance, but the contradiction is that the curriculum mentions nothing about social aspects of development. Students are, practically speaking, not given the opportunity to really work on this. They have too much academic stuff to get thru in a very short time. The government doesn’t care about the social experiences for kids, rather they just look to ensure a lot of high performing academic students. It’s a backwards system and as such it fails our society on many levels.

    There are programs within the school that are designed to help with this; clubs, sports, etc. These activities allow kids to interact with their peers. Teachers observe how kids perform in this respect, and encourage co-operation, patience, and respect amongst the students. It goes along way too.. without this, students would be FAR worse off.

    However, there is such an enormous push to be academically competitive with other schools. In my opinion (and most teachers opinions), standardized testing do more harm then good because all they do is rate schools academically and the government rewards those schools that produce high scores. No mention of social aspects. Meanwhile, the schools that do well on these scores are simply doing well because they are drawing students from High socio-economic neighborhoods where parents have already given their children “cultural capital“. For these students school is a natural thing, since their parents speak to them in the “language of school and high culture”. These kids are already socialized for school, for success and for good behavior.

    Anyway… I’m digressing, but I just like to say that there is no curriculum for socializing kids and teachers are pressured to get good academic results out of their students. For many schools obtaining good academic scores means “exporting” (means: expelling) untalented students out to a school which has no choice but to take the bad students.

    This is encouraged by the Private/public system as well. Private schools take all the students who come form wealthy homes and good situations, thus draining the public schools of these students and so you end up with poor ratio of good students to bad students in the public system. As such public schools have classes with all sorts of problems and teachers are spending their whole day just trying to maintain order. It is a system that privileges the rich.

    This is way too long. sorry.

  • Eric Olsen

    don’t ALL systems privilege the rich?

  • HW Saxton

    This is a really interesting post. I’ve
    got no children of my own but have spent
    a lot of time helping to raise one of my
    nephews and have had to deal with quite
    similar situations.

    Unfortunately,I think that R.J* is right
    that maybe the bully just needs his ass
    handed back to him by your son. I know
    that violence is never an intelligent or
    end all solution but if the kid thinks
    he can get away with it he’ll probably
    keep it up until his little ass does get
    “whupped” for doing it.There is nothing
    wrong with standing up for yourself when
    you are right.I don’t care what ANYONE
    says to the opposite.

    But isn’t the real issue here with the
    kids parents for not teaching the little
    mongoloid better in the first place?

    *Comment #30

  • Giant unexamined (and unsupported) premise, Sydney: rich students are mostly good students; poor students are mostly bad students. I know from my own life this is not invariably (or even mostly) true.

    If socialization can/should be “taught” in schools (as opposed to “learned”), why is the lack of socialization training one of the first charges leveled against home schooling? In other words, if this is just another lesson, it can also be taught at home. Or, as home-schoolers learn, it can be acquired in many other venues, outside the classroom.

    Eric, while money helps you take advantage of opportunities in many systems, I do not agree that ALL systems privilege the rich. People make decisions about where to spend their money. Dawn and her husband did, remember, then they fought to bring that choice into line with their expectations.

  • Eric Olsen

    good points DrP; and HW, I am in no way opposed to people standing up for themselves and in fact encourage it. I am told not infrequently that I am too damn old to get myself into the kinds of confrontations in which I occasionally find myself. I’m not sure how to tell a little guy, who turns 14 months in three days and who just mastered “uh-oh” and “baby,” exactly how to defend himself under the circumstances, however.

  • HW Saxton

    14 months? LOL. I guess that is a bit
    young for to teach ’em the art of school
    yard scufflin’. I was kinda thinking of
    down the road a bit though,4 or 5 years,
    somewhere around there.I guess the young
    one should probably master the likes of
    “I’m hungry” and “I gotta go” before he
    he learns “You want piece of ME,MF?”

  • Dawn

    I tend to agree with the implied philosophy that higher income families tend to “breed” children who exhibit the right values – but that is not a given. There are plenty of low-income families that have exceptional values, but little money.

    This center is in the middle of the road as far as “tuition” goes. It’s not the cheapest, but certainly not the most expensive available.

    This particular family is very well off (as they are more than happy to share with virtually anyone unfortunate enough to listen) but they possess a very pathetic set of values and beliefs thus far.

    This is not just in reference to parenting, as it is truly difficult to judge something as abstract as “parenting” from the outside.

    I have had the misfortune of interacting with them on a variety of levels and it bears repeating: they are the worst kind of muggles.

  • Sydney

    DrPat says, “Giant unexamined (and unsupported) premise, Sydney: rich students are mostly good students; poor students are mostly bad students. I know from my own life this is not invariably (or even mostly) true.”

    Sorry, but this is not what I said. I did say that children of High socio-economic status tend to have “cultural capital” which lends itself to an easy transition into school life. These students are referred too amongst academics as “talented students”. Schools aim to fill themselves with these ‘talented’ students. These students are NOT more intelligent then untalented students, they merely come from families who occupy the top social rungs of society, and as such have been socialized from the get go in the conditions of this ‘society’. This prepares them, in more cases than not, for the social climate within schools. This however, does not mean that a rich kid won’t bully — that’s a separate issue.

    This is why, when you walk into a private school you witness less bad behavior (I‘ve been both a student and a teacher in both the private and public system). The kids may be total jackasses, but they often know what’s appropriate behavior within the school setting.

    I’m not making a negative class judgment, and in fact my heart and my passion lies with those students who are lacking the cultural capital to fit in. But these observations on the effect of socio-economic status and schooling are accepted by researchers in the education field. I spent two years reading journals that corroborated this.

    Also, I just like to add to things:

    1) I believe that teaching your child to fight back has its merits in some instances. Finding your child other means to develop self confidence is another remedy (I.e. acting, singing lessons, sports).

    2) I don’t believe all systems privilege the rich. I’m a capitalist, socialist in the Canadian sense. High Corporate taxes, free health care, free and equal education for all (or as close is humanly possible).

    3) I do believe that public school is a better social experience for children then either home-schooling or private schooling. It’s important that we all have experience with people of all different corners of society, that we don’t develop misconceptions about the nature of these different people, that we form friendships and acquaintances with these people. What does a rich kid know about the immigrants, or the problems of the poor. He reads about them in a text book and sees them mis-represented on the news. ….then he graduates to exercise his inherited authority over the poor with out the knowledge of how to better the situation. Its perpetual.

  • I just keep seeing the same premise, stated in defferent words here: “children of High socio-economic status tend to have “cultural capital” which lends itself to an easy transition into school life. These students are referred too [sic] amongst academics as “talented students”.

    Sounds like “rich kids are good students” to me, even if written in poly-syllabic phrases.

  • Duane

    “Sounds like ‘rich kids are good students’ to me….”

    Is that not true?

  • That’s a load of crock – brains and inner drive make a shit load more difference than a bucket of silver spoons.

  • RJ

    I know of relatively poor kids who did damn well for themselves.

    And I know of relatively well-off kids who are drop-outs and druggies and dead.

    Teachers are there to…TEACH!

    If you can’t manage that, then you shouldn’t be a teacher.

    Socialization can take place both in a school setting, and outside of it.

    Those teachers who whine about test scores and the inability to have their supposedly superior “socializing” skills also reviewed…well, sounds like a cross between incompetence and sour grapes to me.

    If you teach English…then, TEACH ENGLISH! And if you can’t…GET ANOTHER JOB! (Particularly if you can barely spell yourself…)

  • Duane

    True enough, Aaman, but what do you make of this?

    “In nearly all the studies that correctly measured families’ socioeconomic status, children from families with lower socioeconomic status had lower academic achievement, even from the earliest years of school.”

    Source: Armor, David J., Maximizing Intelligence, (New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers 2003), pp. 135-180.

  • RJ

    Because, maybe, economically poor parents tend to be the types of individuals who are also irresponsible in other areas, like basic parenting?

    I mean, a large chunk of “poor” people are “poor” because of self-inflicted wounds. Dropping out of high school and having a boat-load of bastard kids isn’t exactly responsible behavior. And those people tend to be poor.

    Therefore, they tend to be in single-parent homes, without a decent “father-figure” around. And mom ain’t exactly the type of person who will encourage diligent school work and obeying the rules of the larger society…

    In other words, while “poverty” plays a role, so do VALUES. And a poor person with positive values is much more likely to have offspring who are decent citizens. And, likewise, a “rich” person who is otherwise a scumbag is likely to have kids who are delinquents.

    So. Income plays a role, but hardly a definitivee role…

  • a) Academic achievement is not the same as brains, necessarily – just because a child does not perform well academically does not mean he/she is not smart – EQ, not IQ

    b) Einstein

    c) I accept that changing environmental factors for these families can change their children’s ability to learn. but not that rich kids are smarter than poor ones

    d)”Intelligence appears to be the thing that enables a man to get along without education. Education enables a man to get along without the use of his intelligence.” (Wiggam)

  • Duane

    Socioeconomic status is just an indicator of academic performance. It’s a statistical argument, based on the collection of hordes of data. It’s probably better to say that a correlation exists, rather than to say a cause and effect relationship exists, just as RJ points out.

    Of course there are exceptions. That’s what you get with a statistical sample. It’s an averaging process that allows sociologists to make generalizations about large populations.

  • Duane

    a) Academic achievement is not the same as brains….


    b) Einstein

    Always a bad example. There is(was) only one Einstein, and he was so far off the scale that comparisons are meaningless.

    c) … but not that rich kids are smarter than poor ones

    They might be, on average. “Smarts” is part nature, part nurture.

    d)”Intelligence appears to be the thing that enables a man to get along without education. Education enables a man to get along without the use of his intelligence.” (Wiggam)

    Two extreme ends of the spectrum. Even Einstein went to school — and he learned stuff.

  • >>If you teach English…then, TEACH ENGLISH! And if you can’t…GET ANOTHER JOB! (Particularly if you can barely spell yourself…)<< But don't forget, the NEA has made sure that the person teaching English has never really studied English and just teaches from a lesson plan. Dave


    As usual, so many opinions and talking past each other, the old “blind man and the elephant” problem. What the hell, I will throw in my 2 cents as well. I feel very strongly about parenting and education, primarily because I am a parent, and I am looking toward making my second career as a teacher. ( After 20 years in the military, I will need to maintain a string of low-paying, demanding, often thankless but ultimately rewarding jobs so my transition to civilian life won’t be so abrupt and shocking, 😉 )

    First, an 18 month old kid who acts out and bites is not the same as a 3 year old who does the same, or an 8 year old who takes a kids lunch money. At 18 months, a child can, and must be taught what is and is not acceptable behavior, separating that child from the others, removal of toys he won’t share, explining to that child that the behavior is inappropriate, and a good swat on the bottom from the parents on rare occasions are all tools to encourage appropriate social behavior. To fail to consistently use them will most likely result in problems down the road.

    Daycare can be a great thing for both the parents and the child, if the facility is a good one, and the parents spend a lot of time with the kids whenevr possible outside of daycare. Due to circumstances in our area, most of the jobs that were available would have my wife to work and earn just enough to pay for the daycare my kids would use while my wife was working, a zero sum in my book. My wife left work after our children were born and we made the hard choice to be a one income family. I think it was very beneficial for my kids to have consistent parental attention, but we still put the kids in a part-time daycare center to help in the socialization process, and to give my wife the chance to get time without the kids when necessary. Overall, it was a very good arrangement.

    “Teachers are there to…TEACH!

    If you can’t manage that, then you shouldn’t be a teacher.”

    Great idea,but if the teacher has to focus more on managing the disruptive students in class than actually teaching, it can be very frustrating for both the teacher and the students. Teachers need to be held accountable for their students, but they also need to be backed up by the principal and the school board when enforcing the standards in the classroom. Schools should not be expelling kids they don’t want to deal with, but they must also be able to use expulsion to remove the troublesome student from disrupting the process of teaching the rest of the students.

    A good school needs the active participation of the parents, at least open and exercised means of communicating with the parents.

    “But don’t forget, the NEA has made sure that the person teaching English has never really studied English and just teaches from a lesson plan.” Well, I think that is an overexaggeration based in truth, more the exception than the rule. Moreso, why is it that schools have to hire such people, why is it that some school districts have a high teacher turnover rate? To be sure, some find out that teaching is not what they want to do, this happens in any profession in the first few years out of college. I feel that, like in many jobs, the most dedicated people are often burned out the most quickly if forced to be put in the role of disciplinarian and babysitter on one hand, while not being backed up by their school administrators.

    I’d have to agree that there is a correlation rather than a cause and effect regarding income and intelligence. Children, especially in the elementary and middle school years, need the balance of learning as fun, so they want to learn ,and learn it because they need to know it, they also need to be challenged to learn, and a supportive hand while meeting those challenges. Give a kid a good foundation in learning, and the opportunites to do so, and a challenge and discipline to meet a goal, many of them will continue through the rest of their academic career. The minute we write off young children, or the school they attend, we as a society suffer. Unless you are willing to subsidize them in their ignorance, or just herd them upo and kill them off, it is society’s best interest to educate them.

    Last, a kid does need to know how to defend himself, both mentally and physically, and be instructed in deciding when and how to do so. You don’t want to teach a kid to be a doormat for bullies, nor do you want a kid whose first instinct in any confrontation is to start swinging.


    Stanley Kurtz has a review of MAry Eberstadt’s book “Home Alone America” which addresses daycare and parenting. It looks like a book that is worth reading.

  • Eric Olsen

    I basically see the Powell Doctrine as appropriate for interpersonal relationships: be slow to anger, overlook what you reasonably can, but when you retaliate do so with overwhelming force. I am not large and never have been, but I have found “crazy” often prevails over “large,” and if it doesn’t, it certainly gives “large” pause.

  • RJ

    “I am not large and never have been, but I have found “crazy” often prevails over “large,” and if it doesn’t, it certainly gives “large” pause.”


    Lots of people have a short fuse. Mine, however, is quite long. But when it’s burnt completely, I become a friggin’ Berzerker. Minus the blue body-paint, of course… 😉

  • Blue body-paint lets your opponent know you’re crazy.

    on the woad again,