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2012-03-21 / Voices

Sicangu Scribe Scribblings

Sicangu/ Lakota

BBullying is still happening in our schools. It isn’t just here in our tribal schools either. Look what happened in Ohio with the latest school shooting. Some students were killed because one boy grew weary of being picked on by mean peers. The loss of a child is something we never really recover from. Time passes and the pain eases but it never completely goes away.

There are families suffering. They are suffering because their child died in a school shootout. Their pain is very great because a shooting at school seems to be something which may have been prevented. Someone could have reported the bullying behavior to school staff or even police.

A family member who attends a local school told me about another student who wanted to fight her. But she didn’t want to get beat up so a fellow student volunteered to fight the girl in her place. After that she didn’t really want to go to school. It seemed as though she lost her enthusiasm. Is this the reason our drop-out rate is so high? Is it because our children don’t want to be assaulted at school? If someone was trying to physically attack me I sure would not want to attend school.

I am not sure where all the staff members are in all of this. I believe some of them really try to keep the peace in the classroom, hallway and lunch rooms but when you only have a limited number of staff to teach and look after hundreds of students it gets difficult. Our students are smart in that they know where to assault one another without getting caught. Have you seen the videos on YouTube yet?

A lot of the violent issues which surface at school actually originate from the home. I would guess that the students who are bullies have parents who are bigger bullies. Many lessons are taught in the home. Parents and extended family members are the primary teachers. Everything you do impacts the thought process of your children and grandchildren. What kind of behavior are you role modeling?

Still, not many people are willing to admit they have issues in their homes. Many will become defensive and make statements about how they never asked to be a role model. Hello? We are all role models whether we want to be or not.

We have parents who are worse bullies than their students are. I know some parents and adult family members who will go as far as threatening school employees. When I see this happening I believe it is an example of how our parents focus on their own issues as adults instead of focusing on the academic achievements of the students.

What teacher can focus on providing a day of quality education to a room full of elementary, middle or high school students when they have a parent with violent tendencies breathing down their neck? It is like some families turn into violent gangs when it comes to their student. They will all align with each other and terrorize the staff member or administrator. What does this teach the student?

Some students will go home and manipulate their parents into defending them. Our first instinct is to usually believe everything our children tell us. Are you a master manipulator? If you are then chances are good that your children have learned their expert manipulating skills from you.

Your student might come home and lay all the blame on another student, a teacher or another school employee. There are parents who believe everything their elementary, middle or high school student tells them. Again, when you are an expert at manipulating others, there is a good chance your children will master the same trait.

I am aware of many dysfunctional adults on my rez who are master manipulators. I always wonder if our people will ever release their attachment to being a manipulative human being. A manipulative person is not very nice to be around.

Sometimes the parent is the one who makes a telephone call to the school to threaten the employee. They might also tell school staff that they will go to the school board to get them fired. I also know there are parents who will make verbal threats to assault the staff member, teacher or administrator who allegedly picks on their innocent child. This is how adults focus on issues other than education.

Many of us are really adept at playing the role of the victim. Our children also learn to do this by watching us. I will probably get into trouble for writing this but I see lots of adults playing the role of the victim in order to manipulate the system. Remember, you are your children’s primary teacher. They learn most social skills from you.

And if your child doesn’t have any social skills maybe it is because you are never there. You are too busy at the casino or in the bar or partying with friends. Or you might be too wrapped up in a relationship with a member of the opposite sex to pay any attention to your children. I see so much of this and our children are the people who really suffer.

When your child comes home and wants to talk about what happened at school that day, maybe you could listen with discernment. Is there really a problem or is your child trying to get attention? Oftentimes if you as an adult have a problem with authority figures then there is an excellent chance your children will grow up with the same attitude.

It would be great if our children could learn how to be good students instead of good manipulators. Our schools would probably be much better places for everyone. Take the time to talk rationally with the teacher, school staff member or administrator before you give into your anger and start threatening other adults. Don’t be a big bully.

Vi Waln is Sicangu Lakota and an enrolled member of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe. Her columns were awarded first place in the South Dakota Newspaper Association 2010 contest. She can be reached through email at:

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