Monday, November 9, 2009

No bully-register?

Lately, there's been a lot of fuss about the campaign "Stopp Mobbingen" (Stop the Bullying) which has assembled a register of schools where serious bullying occurs more frequently than what's to be expected. This weekend, VG reported that two "high-ranking politicians" demand that this register should be removed. Arguments ensue.

Who are these "high-level politicians", one might ask. Why, it's the Patron Saint of Mediocrity, Trine Skei Grande (Venstre), and the Crown Princess of Unsubstantiated Media Hype, Hadia Tajik (Arbeiderpartiet). Skei Grande is of course the second-in-command and presumed leader-elect of Venstre, which in and of itself should give some pause for Venstre-voters, considering that Skei Grande couldn't win a debate if she was the only participant, and that in the same contest, the lectern would be voted "Most Charismatic Participant". Talk about contrast in leadership change if she takes over after Lars Sponheim. Hadia Tajik is a political advisor rumored to be behind such wildly successful proposals as hijab in the Norwegian police force, and she was also one of the most visible proponents of the epitome of lameness campaign slogan in "Jens vi kæn", not at all a weak attempt to piggyback on a very successful slogan recently employed in international politics.. Both of these "high-level politicians" decry the campaign and their register, and offer instead their own solutions to the very real problem of bullying. Both are also very visible in media - in the case of Tajik, she's been very adept at getting face time in media ever since she got into national politics, whereas Skei Grande obviously has started to take the advice of a media consultant.

Skei Grande vehemently states that bullying cannot be stopped by blacklisting schools where bullying is a disproportionate problem compared to the mean. Rather, she wants to allocate resources towards reinstating the respect for teachers in the classroom. On the vagueness scale, this ranks right up there with her brilliant file-sharing proposal, where she suggests that somebody somehow should find alterantive revenue streams for musicians etc. to make money without limiting filesharing.

Brilliant. I'm sure the red-headed kid with the freckles and daily trips face-first into the toilet takes great comfort in this.

Tajik states that the bully-register has no constructive effect, and that concrete proposals and strategies are missing. According to her, bullying can be stopped by other means entirely. For example, the government will present a new, holistic approach to learning environment before Christmas. They also want to strengthen the victimization-sensitivity training among teachers and principals. But wait - there's more: The coalition government also want to allocate more funds to attitude campaigns in the schools.

Again, I'm sure that li'l Per is better able to hold on to his moral while on the receiving end of wedgies and beatings when he knows that the government is thinking about putting down a committee to investigate the problem and possibly allocate funds towards a future campaign no doubt featuring children of all colors rapping about how bullying is whack, yo.

These lame-ass attempts to make political hay of a very real (to the children involved) problem by launching some vague, non-committal nonsense that they never have to be held to is very low - even for beta politicians like Skei Grande and Tajik.

As far as I can tell, the register in question only lists schools where the bullying has been so severe as to necessitate students to change schools despite attempts from parents to enter a constructive dialogue with the school in question. Seeing as how the register doesn't even begin to list the majority of schools, we're talking about schools where bullying is a much greater problem than the norm. Isn't this information valuable in and of itself? Unless you're gonna claim that the students at these schools are more evil or more prone to bullying than other students, there is a need to realize that the problems are disproportionally present in some schools. And thus a general solution encompassing all schools nationwide probably won't do much. While I don't think the teachers and principals at these schools should be put in the pillory of constant media attention, I also don't think that they deserve a medal for either not being aware of the situation or not doing enough to fix the problem. Ducking responsibility is a poor trait in educators.


Anders said...

My understanding is that this "bully register" is just a personal outlet for one person who had to change school due to bullying. And that the registration is just pure coincidental, i.e. people passing by that page can send in their own stories and register the school. If that is the case (and please correct me if I'm wrong), it does sound more like exposing random schools based on flawed statistics then actually targeting the schools with more bullying then the norm.

At least that was my impression when I checked out the page. I couldn't find any information about whose behind the page, how that data is collected, etc.

As you said in your post, the information of which schools have a higher rate of bullying is valuable. But isn't there some official register that has more valid data?

Anders said...

Reading a bit more on the bully list webpage, I correct myself: There are actually three persons behind this page, not one, as I said above.

Further reading just supports my initial impression that this page is not very professional. For example, they only show the answer from the schools, not the questions sent by the bully register. (Ok, the initial letter of which the wording is pretty wierd is up, but when one school has sent them three replies, where are the rest of the communication?).

For now, my impression is that this page is a worthy cause gone bad.

Wilhelm said...

Like I said, I'm not in favor of a hate-campaign against the schools in question. However, data on schools with many such incidents is valuable, and no; I seriously doubt that any such official register exists. If so, Kristin Halvorsen should've said so at this point to defuse the situation.

And even if this started out as a grudge-list, the recent media-exposure will no doubt prompt other parents or students to report serious incidents so as to eventually provide decent statistics.

If you're a fan of wikipedia, you'll no doubt agree here :-)

I'd like to state, however, that my issue isn't so much to state any support to the campaign as it is to criticize two rather ruthless politicians trying to get favorable media attention by appearing to champion this case via total non-committal and hot air.

Anders said...

However, data on schools with many such incidents is valuable

Read the answers from the school up on that page. In cases they have mixed up schools, the schools have no records of such a case,the data isn't organized in any useful way, etc, etc. This is pure amateur evening, so I do have a bad feeling that this register can actually do more bad then good. Like some infamous fitness page from way back...

...criticize two rather ruthless politicians trying to get favorable media attention by appearing to champion this case via total non-committal and hot air.

Also in the news today: Smoking can seriously damage your health, pyramid schemes doesn't work and there isn't a whole lot of people in Nigeria who will transfer huge amounts of money into your bank account just because you're such a nice guy. Seriously.

Wilhelm said...

This is true - I AM a nice guy

Anders said...

Great comeback...

Wilhelm said...


Did you read the "feedback" section on their home page, where one "Hadia" links to a report on what she claims to be a pertinent study?

Anders said...

No. Link?

Wilhelm said...

Link to the answer from a certain "Hadia":

Link to the departmental summary of the report:

Link tot he actual report (bullying featured on page 13):

Find the relevance to the problem at hand. Hint: Good luck - odds are overwhelmingly in favor of you finding extraordinarily poor understanding of statistical trends in "Hadia" instead