Bad Seed or Bad Soil? The Case of the Bullied Bus Monitor

What would you do if this was your child? Your mom? Grandma? Your employee? Your friend? Your student?

And…how did we get to this point?

Erika Christakis

I’m trying to make sense of this:

I know the kids behaved monstrously, and verbally assaulting an elderly (apparently hearing-impaired) grandmother/bus monitor is indefensible. But I’ve got some questions, too. Why is an elderly, hearing impaired grandmother serving as a bus monitor, anyway? Go ahead, bring on the umbrage, call me “ageist,” tell me how wonderful it is that an elderly hearing impaired grandmother can earn a measly 15K per year as a bus monitor. I stand by my question.

Anyone who’s spent 30 seconds with middle schoolers knows that buses (and lunch rooms and playgrounds) are cesspools of incivility.  They are also the sites where 95 % of bullying occurs — it almost never happens in classrooms –  so why do schools (and families) continue to think it’s okay to turn kids loose like this without any meaningful supervision? Why do we place poorly trained and disempowered folks in…

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One thought on “Bad Seed or Bad Soil? The Case of the Bullied Bus Monitor

  1. Thanks for commenting on my piece – not sure if you saw my response so here it is: Thanks for your feedback. Of course it’s “wrong.” I agree! I have a column coming out tomorrow at TIME.com on this topic with more analysis of what I think went wrong, and why. I hope you will see that I’m not trying to blame the victim. But I’m not willing to write off the kids either. I believe there is a societal problem in which all play a role and there was a series of missteps and missed opportunities that doubtless led to the abuse — starting with the families, I’m sure, but also including choices that schools (and the people who control school budgets) make every day. In my view, it doesn’t help to write off 12 and 13-year olds as monsters, as we have seen in the media and with over the top pronouncements about “kids these days.” (Even thought bullying has declined.) Adults behave abominably in group situations, too, with far more dire consequences. This is a problem psychologists have long tried to understand. There are tried and tested ways to prevent and stop bullying – none of which appear to have been in place with these kids and the poor woman who was verbally assaulted. I stand by my view that she was in the wrong job — keep in mind that neither she nor the bus driver even reported the incident to the school authorities, which is outrageous. Other kids could have been – and probably were – mistreated, too. Many seniors do marvelous work with kids of all ages, of course.

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