and then posting it on social media now seems to be a "thing" among students in this state. I imagine it also goes on elsewhere but this vile practice has now made headlines here.
I know it can occur anywhere and among students from all backgrounds. That this is so does not make it right of course. It just makes it all the more disturbing.
Some people are inclined to wash their hands of it. They say things like, "Bullying has been going on forever." and "It happened when I was at school too but we didn't have mobile phones to film it." Tom Brown's schooldays were bad enough but now the victims can find their pain shown far beyond school - and nothing will be done about it.
The issue was raised with me some time ago. We were in the peaceful setting of a small, friendly knitting group when one of the group mentioned that a grandchild was being bullied at school. It is one of those issued on which everyone seems to have an opinion.
The Senior Cat was still with us and still living at home at the time and I suggested this woman might like to chat to him. As a former headmaster he had dealt with all sorts of behavioural issues. A time was organised and she came with her husband and the parents of the child.
The conversation which ensued was an interesting one. The Senior Cat might have left the teaching service many years before but he had kept up his interest in what was going on there. He had been invited to "Older Persons Day" ( once known as "Grandparents' Day") every year by some child or another. He had gone back into schools to teach conjuring tricks and more.
There were things which he saw which concerned him. He did not expect schools to stand still. He knew they had changed and he felt that some changes were good. At the same he felt there were changes which should never have taken place.
"How can you expect the students to respect you if you are standing there in raggy jeans and a t-shirt and look as if you haven't done your hair or shaved or...?" he would ask. He didn't expect male teachers to wear a collar and tie or a suit any more but he still thought that slacks and a properly pressed shirt were more appropriate - unless you happened to be a PE teacher. I agree. Respect yourself if you want others to respect you.
He also intensely disliked the increasing tendency for students to call teachers by their given names. "You need that small distance for disciplinary reasons." I agree with that too. When I was teaching in a special school I did allow one student to call me by my given name. The school kept students until they were twenty. M... was not in my class and should have been moved on two or three years before but nobody knew quite what to do with her. She was almost twenty when I knew he and only a few years younger. One day she asked me what my "real" name was. I told her and then I said, "But not in front of the others. They are too young." I was not sure she would understand the difference but she did and stuck faithfully to calling me one thing or the other in the appropriate way. It was a risk but one I was willing to take. I was never likely to be in the position of having to discipline her - indeed nobody was. Disciplining an entire group of restless adolescents - some of whom do not want to be there at all - is a very different story. They can use my family name thank you very much.
But those are just two things. Learning now takes place in entirely different ways. Students no longer sit in four straight rows facing the blackboard. That went out even before I left teacher training college. What we now demand of teachers and students has changed.
Learning now takes place in different ways. Much of it is good but by no means all of it is. There are stresses on students and teachers that did not exist when I was at school or even when I was teaching. We were taught about caring for the world around us but we weren't taught about "climate change" and "global warming". We were taught about respecting each other but we were not taught about LGBTQI "rights" and "gender fluidity". Despite taunting each other there was no real animosity between us and the "Catholic kids". We might taunt each other when in school uniform. At weekends we played together. "Racism" was something we just didn't understand. You played with everyone. Those few children who didn't were ostracised by the rest of us.
Now I am wondering whether all those attempts at trying to make the world a "better place" through social engineering were right. Would we have the present problem - which does appear to be genuinely bigger than before - if we had respected ourselves as well as each other from the start? Maybe the latest bullying incidents would have been less severe if we had done things differently.