Students and staff: Instances of bullying rare, but still problematic

In school, English teacher James Macindoe said, he and his friends were bullied.

“I don’t think we thought of it as bullying at the time,” he said. Macindoe cited petty incidents in elementary school and times that he saw physical violence between his best friend and upperclassmen in high school.

“My best friend played on the soccer team and every day after school one of the seniors on the team would beat the crap out of him,” he said.

Teen bullying has made local and national headlines time and time again in the last few months. From incidents at college campuses to those at elementary schools, peer-on-peer harassment has led to lawsuits, legislative action and press attention.

According to the federal government’s, bullying “is unwanted, aggressive behavior among school aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance” and, among young adults, can be considered hazing, harassment or stalking. Bullying, the site says, “can happen anywhere.”

“I think, in all high schools, a little bullying is accepted,” junior Jocelyn Golden said. “We put up with some of it because it’s not criminal, it’s not awful, [but here] the extent of it is not large.”

Generally, teachers and students seem to agree with Golden: bullying does not occur frequently at GCM, but it is not nonexistent. Vice principal Dan Daus cited an attitude of “positive teamwork” that helps eliminate elements of peer bullying.

Daus said he does not know what makes the environment at Marshall different from that at other schools (“maybe the size, but maybe it’s the culture”), but he is sure that there is something that gives the school a “positive climate.”
“That’s Marshall,” he said by way of explanation.

Macindoe said he sees bullying at school but not in his classes.

“I do see it happen in the halls,” he said. “I think it’s a pretty engrained part of public school culture.”

A lack of self-reflection, according to Macindoe, is the reason for much of high-school bullying.

The bullies “don’t realize the effects of their actions and their statements,” he said.

While he may not see bullying to be pervasive at Marshall, Macindoe said, “if it happens to one kid, then that one kid would say it does happen.”

Spanish teacher Fernando Uribarri said bullying happens among his students.

“I see bullying in my TOK class,” he said.

There, Uribarri saw students “picking on each other for things that they had said.”

Uribarri also cited the relationship between freshmen and upperclassmen as one that can lead to harassment.

“I see upperclassmen bully the young kids,” he said.

Daus said that it can be difficult to get students to come forward about being bullied.
“If we don’t know about it, we can’t help,” he said.

Macindoe agreed. In his opinion, coming forward is difficult for students.

“Admitting you’re being bullied is admitting that you’re weaker than someone else,” he said. “You never want to, as a student, to admit that.”