Thursday, August 11, 2005

Back To School II – The Bully Buster Box

This is the second post of my Back-To-School series. The first post is here.

In my first post, I promised to tell you about the anti-bullying tool that my kids’ elementary school is using. So, here goes.

It is a very powerful tool. It is, in fact, a small wooden box. It walks around on hundreds of little legs and swallows its enemies whole… oops, wrong box. I should really stop reading Terry Pratchett books so much.

Here’s how I found out about the magical box. K9 was in second grade. I was driving him to school one morning, which is when most of our conversations take place. Suddenly, K9 said, in an indignant voice,

“Yesterday, Mark put my name in the bully buster box for no reason! And I got called to the guidance counselor’s office! It’s not fair!”

I was confused.

“Mark did what?”

“I built a toy out of Legos and he wanted to play with it, and I didn’t let him cause it was mine, cause I built it. And he went and put my name in the bully buster box for that. He wrote that I wasn’t sharing.”

“Wait, wait, wait. He put your name in what?”

“Come on Mom, I told you already. In the Bully Buster Box.”

“What the heck is a bully buster box, K9?!”

“You know, Mom. Mrs. Guidance Counselor has it outside her office. And, when a kid is bullying you, you write his name on a piece of paper and you put it in the box, and that’s how she knows who’s the bully.”

“So it’s like a mailbox?”


Just at that minute, we pulled into the school’s driveway and I had to drop K9 off. So he didn’t get to finish the story, which was too bad, because I sure did have a lot of questions. I’d never heard about the bully buster box before, but I already had a vague idea about what it was, and I wasn’t liking it at all! I felt like giving Mrs. Guidance Counselor a phone call.

Now, normally, I wouldn’t touch Mrs. GC with a proverbial ten-foot pole, because I’m terrified of her. She’s the woman that screamed at me and threatened me with police and Social Services because of I12’s antics. She intimidates me something awful. Most of the time, I try to keep as far away from Mrs. GC as possible, and definitely won’t call her unless she calls me first.

This, however, was a special situation. I drove to work, settled nicely in my comfy chair, and dialed Mrs. GC’s number.

During the next five minutes, I asked a lot of questions and received more answers than I’d hoped for. I found out that the Bully Buster Box was, indeed, a mailbox located in front of Mrs. GC’s office. It was intended for bully prevention. The way it worked was, if a kid was bullied, he could write his abuser’s name on a piece of paper and drop it into the box. You didn’t have to sign your name unless you wanted to. The abuser would then be summoned into Mrs. GC’s office for questioning.

I was talking in a calm voice, not drawing any conclusions, not making any accusations, just asking one question after another. The only statement I made during the entire conversation was, “My son has told me about the bully buster box, and I would like to learn more about it.” However, as I was talking, I noticed something strange. Mrs. GC was talking to me in a really nice voice. During all our previous conversations, she used to sound like a drill sergeant. It’s almost like she felt uncomfortable explaining the principles of the bully buster box to me.

I would say she felt uncomfortable for a good reason. I may have sounded calm on the phone (those five years of working in computer support are finally paying off!), but, deep inside, I was flipping out! I mean, I understand the good intentions behind the blasted box, but is it so hard to imagine the possibilities for abuse created by that thing?! You can report anyone you want; you can make up any accusations you want; you do not have to sign your name; and you do not have to ever prove anything. It’s up to the person that you have reported to prove that he or she is innocent. If you get into an argument with your friend, that’s how you can get back at him. If someone doesn’t want to be your friend, that’s how you can get back at them. If there’s a boy or girl in your class that looks weird or smells funny, that’s how you can give him or her a hard time. And that is what we’re teaching the elementary-school kids?!

I grew up in a country where, in the 1930’s, millions of people had died in concentration camps because of being falsely accused by their coworkers and neighbors. I have absolutely no tolerance for that kind of thing. It is infinitely worse than bullying, in my book. By the time I hung up with Mrs. GC, I was furious. What were those people thinking when they put up that God-forsaken box?!

So what did I do about it? Other than the phone call – nothing. I didn’t know what to do. Well, I did tell K9 to stay away from that box, but that’s basically all I did.

This was two years ago. Last time I checked, the box was still there.

Don’t mess with me. I can write you up.

Coming up next: the story of how I once got fed up with our elementary school, and what I tried to do about it.

The Goldie has spoken at 9:11 AM

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