Behind every bully, cyber or otherwise, is more than likely a crappy parent. Maybe they’re abusing their kids. Maybe they’re brushing off their kid’s behavior as “hijinks.” But, speaking from personal experience, these people will never accept their kid is an a-hole because it means that they, the parent, screwed up — and that is just not acceptable, because they are perfect and therefore their crotchfruit are perfect by proxy.
So, how to solve this? First of all, actually fund social workers. Seriously, these people don’t have the funding to deal with their case load. Give them the money to do their jobs and take kids out of abusive homes. That will solve some of the problem right there.
Secondly, pass a law that makes the parent financially accountable for the bully’s behavior. If the school nurse has to patch a kid up after he’s been beaten and tossed in a dumpster, the kid responsible goes home with a letter and a bill that shows up on your credit report. If a teacher has to spend an hour helping a girl weeping inconsolably in a toilet stall because everybody thinks she’s a pregnant slut, everybody who spreads the rumor goes home with a ticket. And if they’re not paid, you don’t graduate.
Seriously, this could work. Parents will brush off notes from the school as minor problems some administrator is fussing over pointlessly or “he said she said” — ask any teacher. Being told their kid has racked up fines that they, the parents, have to pay will get the point across a lot faster.
Granted, this is roughly as Constitutional as stripping the anonymity from the Internet (that is, not at all). There’s also no legislative will, here, either: kids don’t vote, parents do, and asking a parent to admit their child is not perfect is political suicide.
But if you really want to solve the problem, if you really want to help people and stop bullying, you have to make the parents care. And unfortunately, unless you hit them in the wallet, they won’t.
(Image courtesy Miss Blackflag on Flickr)