Lincoln Public School’s Facebook page is currently getting a ton of attention from angry parents and family members after fifth-graders from Zeman Elementary School received flyers on how to handle bullies. Although the flyer was given to the students with good intentions, the Nebraska school is facing heat on Facebook and from the media about its message on how to act and behave to bullying.
The list, which can be read in the photo above, tells students not to tell on bullies, not to be a “sore loser,” to laugh at themselves and not get “hooked by put-downs,” and to treat the bully as “someone trying to help” them. In response to the angry community, Lincoln Public School’s Facebook page stated that their educators at Zeman Elementary “work hard to provide accurate and appropriate lessons and education” to their students on how to handle bullying. Unfortunately, the advice on the flyer did not align or reflect with the school district’s policies on dealing with bullies. In response to one of the commentators, the school’s administrator of the Facebook page wrote, “Counselors and teachers will be discussing this with students tomorrow. Great learning opportunity for all.”
The school district’s apology for its bullying message did not tone down the heat on Facebook among the Nebraska locals. One commentator wrote, “LPS calls this a great learning opportunity for all? I hope that there will be many parents at the school tomorrow to monitor what the counselors and teachers will be ‘discussing’ with the students.” Another wrote, “Whoever wrote and/or approved this garbage must resign, as they have absolutely NO competence to be molding young minds.”
The message did not anger only those within the state. A resident of Alaska responded found the message to be an aberration. “These ‘rules’ basically create victims, telling children to basically take the bullying and don’t tell anyone about it, unless it’s so severe that a crime is actually committed? How can anyone with an ounce of common sense or compassion have distributed such a thing? Aren’t children supposed to be safe in our schools? If my child were enrolled in this school district I would have serious concern.”
Not all comments were hostile. One commentator still holds some respect for the school yet she questions how this message could have passed through the system and given to the students. “After doing extensive research last night, I want to know if this is related to the motivational speaker Brooks Gibbs, who came to several LPS middle and high schools last fall (and surrounding areas), and his work in relation to The Golden Rule Solution to Bullying. If so, there are even MORE questions that I think all LPS parents should be asking. We need information. Apologies are nice, but for any growth and change to happen, there needs to be accurate information and explanation leading to understanding.”
So where did the idea about dealing with bullying in the flyer came from? One commentator on the school district’s Facebook page suggested that it came from an online guideline from Lockport Township High School called How to Stop Being Teased and Bullied Without Really Trying, by Izzy Kalman. The PDF file also contains a link called, “Bullies2buddies.com.” The advice on the list is nearly-identical to Zeman Elementary’s, including: do not tell on bullies, unless of course someone has been injured or there is a theft, don’t be a sore loser, and do not verbally defend yourself. The moment we defend ourselves we are treating the other person as the enemy, as a result, they treat us in kind.
According to KidsHealth.org, that advice is quite the opposite of what should be done. Students can learn to be assertive instead of being passive or aggressive when they are in a bullying situation. Its guidelines include talking to a guidance counselor or a teacher, practicing self-confidence, avoiding physical confrontation, and ignoring the bully if possible. “You can’t control other people’s actions, but you can stay true to yourself. Think about ways to feel your best — and your strongest,” KidsHealth.org stated.
Nebraska’s school district may be facing more heat on Thursday morning both on Facebook and from the students’ parents about the bullying message. This could be a lesson that other school districts in the U.S. and other countries could learn to avoid getting “bullied” themselves.
By Nick Ng