Here Comes the Anti-Bullying Bureaucracy

The overwrought anti-bullying crusade has come in for heavy and very specific criticism from Hans Bader, the lawyer and writer who played a key role in keeping out a dangerous provision of a proposed federal law on how colleges must deal with campus sexual assault.

Though Washington officials call bullying a “pandemic,” in reality, Bader writes, incidents have been declining. Like the badly overstated AAUW report on sexual harassment discussed here last week, the unwelcome good news is…

…converted into attention-getting bad news by broadening the definition of an offense. The AAUW survey converted jokes, gestures and simple gossip into sexual harassment. The anti-bullying movement lists teasing, rudeness and rolling ones eyeballs as bullying offenses. Failing to invite a hostile classmate to your birthday party can count too.

Although there’s no federal law against bullying, “That hasn’t stopped the Obama administration from trying to federalize anti-bullying policy,” Bader writes. School bullying can only violate existing federal law if it involves racial or sexual harassment. He sees a large anti-bullying apparatus rising:“Previously, name-calling or shoving on the playground could be handled on the spot as a teachable moment, with the teacher reinforcing the appropriate behavior. That’s no longer the case. Now it has to be documented, reviewed and resolved by everyone from the teacher to the anti-bullying specialist, principal, superintendent and local board of education.”

John Leo

John Leo

John Leo is the editor of Minding the Campus, dedicated to chronicling imbalances within higher education and restoring intellectual pluralism to our American universities. His popular column, "On Society," ran in U.S.News & World Report for 17 years.

4 thoughts on “Here Comes the Anti-Bullying Bureaucracy

  1. I leave a response each time I appreciate a article on a site or I have something to contribute to the conversation. It’s caused by the passion communicated in the post I looked at. And after this article Here Comes the Anti-Bullying Bureaucracy. I was actually excited enough to leave a thought 😉

  2. Our job as adults is to keep them as safe as possible. This doesn’t mean that they will never get hurt, but we must do everything in our power to protect them. Which adults are responsible to protect them? ALL OF US! It’s shameful that this is even a debate. The quote, “It takes a village”, has never been more true. It’s not that the kids are changing, the technology and adult response has. Thinking about movies like “The Outsiders”, bullying has always existed in some way. However, youth can no longer escape it. The most effective response we’ve seen is complete climate change in schools which includes involved parents. Schools and parents must team together. This is one of the core component of the programs we develop with schools.

  3. I know on the K-12 bullying issue, the solution is to implement a School Climate Framework where the most important element is that the school will push for social justice.
    Bullying is the emotional issue that forces the door open for a remedy that’s designed for other purposes. We have to quit thinking of education as the public good it can be and appreciate that it has turned into a political and social weapon.

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