school district in suburban San Antonio, Texas, has dismissed one kindergarten teacher and suspended another for an unusual plan to fight bullying: According to a police report, a young teacher at Salinas Elementary School approached an older colleague for help dealing with "a bully in her classroom," named Aiden Neely. The older teacher had Neely, 6, come into her classroom, where she allegedly sat him down, lined up her kindergarten class, and had them smack Neely one-by-one to "teach him why bullying is bad," while she instructed the kids to "Hit him!" and "Hit him harder!" Neely's teacher stepped in after one child landed a particularly hard blow, then reported the incident two weeks later. Neely's mom, Amy, told local TV stations the school had never contacted her about behavioral issues, that her son is not a problem child, and that she wants the older teacher barred from teaching anywhere ever again. Neither teacher has been identified. Even with the dangers of bullying being a high-profile topic in education, could this be labeled as anything but a bad idea?
This is all sorts of wrong: Nobody likes a bully, and "there's no doubt a 6-year-old is capable of being cruel and awful," says Meredith Carroll at Babble, but the answer to bullying is not more bullying, especially if the second bully is a teacher. The police and Amy Neely both say that some of the kindergartners didn't want to participate, but were too scared to disobey. Firing that teacher is the least the school can do. She'll be lucky to avoid criminal charges.
"Texas teacher allegedly orders 24 kindergartners to hit bully"
The teacher's intentions were good: This was a bad idea, in that the worst way to nip bullying in the bud is to take an insecure kid and "humiliate and emasculate him," says Ivan Gronzi at Political Incorrection. But you have to feel the teacher's heart was in the right place. Bullying is causing kids to kill themselves, and I believe that Aiden is a bully: "Any mother that wants to bring media attention to her family will be more prone to have created a bully-conducive environment." So sorry, "I just don't feel sympathy for this kid, or his mother."
"Students get to line up and hit 'bully'"
Let's get all the facts before we judge: It's worth noting that "all of the facts are not yet clear," says Bill Chappell at NPR. The police say six or seven kids hit Aiden before his teacher stepped in, while Amy Neely says 24 kids smacked him, some of them twice. And "young Aiden evidently admitted to his mother that he had been acting up in line" before the slap-fest, but we don't know what that means. The case just reached the district attorney's office: Let the law do its thing before we convict anyone in the court of public opinion.
"Students ordered to hit 6-year-old, police say"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- 31 TV shows to watch in 2014
- Why would a young person today be religious?
- He said he was leaving. She ignored him.
- Why Good Friday is so important to Christians
- The world's dumbest idea: Taxing solar energy
- Israel and Russia are getting along. Have the neocons noticed?
- Why we can't stop procrastinating, according to science
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- The 6-year-old who woke up from a coma with a different personality
- 14 wonderful words with no English equivalent
Subscribe to the Week