Editorial – When angels run wild

Jeff Burgar

No doubt you’ve seen or read at least one news story which goes along the lines of: “Teen charged with multiple crimes after attacking customers and staff at convenience store.”

Change the age of the teen. Make him or her a young adult. Change the crimes. Maybe it was pointing a gun, or selling drugs, or vehicle theft. Change the location of the incident. Mall or playground. You can easily make it fit something you have heard, even recently.

Then comes the kicker to the story – “Parents say their child was a model citizen. Wouldn’t hurt a fly. Neighbours tearfully agree.”

In a perfect world, police would do their duty. The accused would get their day in court. Facts, as much as they could be determined, would be laid out. Both sides would be heard. The case would be decided by an impartial judge or jury. The verdict would come down, innocent or guilty.

Depending on the nature of the story, the rest of the world outside those involved may or may not hear or even care about the end result. Most certainly, we rarely hear if it was indeed fact “Little Johnny” or “Sweet Donna” were indeed perfect angels who could do no wrong.

It has to be said, there is something wrong with this type of news reporting. First, some, if not most, parents are not ideal vouchers of character of their children, just as some law enforcement members are not ideal witnesses at a crime scene in which they were involved.

Unfortunately, there is a lot of reporting, particularly in television, that is exactly this style: Crime scene. Interview parents. Poor kid. Rarely do victims get their say. There is a long-term trend of trying to get a better story by interviewing witnesses who are prejudiced. It has not, and is not, doing anybody any favours.

Case in point is school bullying. Bullying exists, whether in person or online. Pretending it doesn’t exist, or isn’t seriously harmful, is a head-in-the-sand, and frankly irresponsible, attitude from those in charge. Inevitably, ignoring a problem simply means it will grow. It takes time, often years or decades, but today it can be said the results of past inaction are coming home to roost.

“Hair pulling. Chair throwing. Scissors flying. Choking. Biting. Spitting. Bloody noses. Concussions. It may sound like a particularly animated evening of prime time professional wrestling. But no, those are incidents and injuries reported by teachers. Not only student-on-student attacks, but teachers suffering violence at the hands of their students.” Add to that violence against teachers by parents. That’s from a recent CBC news report.

No matter what “solution” is proposed, from studies to spending more money, simple questions remain. If teachers are bullied more and more by both students and parents, does that mean the bullying is now transferred from students to teachers? You know, the bullies have moved on to bigger game?

Or is this more a case that bullying has simply expanded over the years. Today, it is not just students under attack, but now it includes teachers?

 

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