Zero-tolerance policy leaves students wondering who’s bullying whom
Published: Thursday, February 21, 2013
Updated: Thursday, February 21, 2013 21:02
“Acquitting the guilty and condemning the innocent -- the Lord detests them both.” Proverbs 17:15 (New International Verson)
Under Tennessee schools’ current zero-tolerance policies, any student involved in a fight at school faces disciplinary action.
This means that the student being abused, even if they don’t fight back receives the same or worse disciplinary action as the abuser or attacker.
Students in Tennessee schools are not allowed to physically defend themselves when other students start to physically abuse them, but I as an adult, can defend myself when another adult starts to abuse me. I believe this is a double standard.
How is it wisdom to punish the innocent? Punishing a student who did nothing to provoke a fight is not fair. It is not biblical either.
State Rep. Terri Lynn Weaver, R-Lancaster, and State Sen. Reginald Tate, D-Memphis, are sponsoring the student self-defense bill, which would eliminate the notion of zero-tolerance and allow students to fight back in defense of themselves or to step in and fight in defense of a fellow classmate without fear of punishment, according to WSMV.com.
“A quick-tempered person does a foolish thing,” Proverbs 14:17 (NIV)
Sometimes a fight will break out and it is because one student is just looking to start trouble. Teachers know these students because they see them roaming the halls with that look about them that says “try me.” As soon as the teacher turns around that student picks the kid right in front of them and starts a fight that will land him in out-of-school suspension along with the other kid who did nothing but be in the right place at the wrong time.
“It is to one’s honor to avoid strife, but every fool is quick to quarrel.” Proverbs 20:3 (NIV)
If soldiers do what it takes to avoid a fight but have to defend themselves by fighting back, or they stand up to the bully who started the fight, they are called a hero. Is it not the same thing when one student stands up to another in defense of another classmate?
I propose that we need to start empowering students to stand up to the bullies who just want to fight and drag more people down with them, for misery loves company. We need to encourage them to take a stand without fear of disciplinary action.
I am not saying we should allow them to start fights or promote fighting in schools, but I am saying that we need to empower the good students to find peaceable solutions. Just like with the military, they do try to seek peaceable solutions to avoid conflict.
“The way of the guilty is devious, but the conduct of the innocent is upright.” Proverbs 21:8
We are innocent until proven guilty and I truly believe we all have a right to protect ourselves. Instead of looking to just lay the blame at the feet of both parties in a fight, I suggest teachers, administrators and students, take into consideration all possible avenues for why the fight started in the first place.
Who knows, the one who started the fight could have been the original victim because they were the one being bullied.
Bullying is the real problem here. Are we even paying attention to the signs?
I was a victim of bullying in high school and if I could have I would have fought back with all that was in me. But I was the passive student who tried to handle it on my own and, when it went to far, I finally went to the people in charge who should have been paying attention, but weren’t.
Not everyone is brave enough to fight back on his or her own and students shouldn’t have too. But I will stand and applaud the one who stands up to the bully and fights for the ones who cannot.
I want this problem fixed now. In the future, I will encourage my children to fight back. Walking away from a problem doesn’t make it go away, it only makes it worse. The situations in our schools will not get better until legislation is passed to get rid of the “zero tolerance” bill.
If I can defend myself as an adult, why can’t students to do the same? Turning the other cheek doesn’t and can’t apply when dealing with bullies.