Invisible – NOT CYBER – Bullying in the School: Part III – The School Bus and the Classroom

This is the third in a series of three articles related to Invisible Bullying. We refer to it as invisible because it is happening virtually within 25 feet or less from adult supervision and it is going completely unrecognized because the supervisors are often on a completely different “wavelength” from the students they are supervising. Like the adults in the Charlie Brown specials, they are invisible to the students and speak a different language.

We refer to this as Decontextualized Supervision, and although it can prevent seriously bodily harm and make sure people get outside in a natural disaster and maintain general law and order, it does nothing to assist the victims of bullying during the school day. We spoke in Part I of the bullying that occurs in plain sight in the school hallways. Teachers, before you punish a child who is continually late to class automatically, will you please look at that child and ask yourself if this person looks like a person intent on beating the system or one who someone intends to beat on. If you are not sure, err on the side of caution and begin with the assumption that the child is purposely taking the long way to avoid hallway bullies that he or she dreads having to pass each day- because they are really lurking out there- even if you don’t see them.

In the cafeteria, what do you surmise when a kid shows you his new Social Studies Book with a piece of pizza smooshed in the middle? If there are kids that always go to help the librarian instead of going to lunch, does anyone ask the child why?

More children than you would think dread walking in the hallways and going to the cafeteria because of the constant abuse. Yet, for us adults, most of the time we glance into the cafeterias or down the hallway, and everything looks fine to us, except for perhaps a little too much noise. Which group- the kids or the adults have a mistaken impression? Which group of people is out of touch with the realities of the situation? Which group is working with no contextual backdrop? As a supervisor of students, what skills have you developed beyond making comments like, “Keep it down you people, or else!” “If I have to come down there you aren’t going to like it!”and, “I want the both of you to knock it off or you will be seeing me for detention for the next week!” When you said that last one, was it really an even battle, or might someone be the constant perpetrator?

So, we have spoken about the hallways and the cafeteria as being dreaded places for many young people. Next we will talk about the school bus, and this of course, includes getting on and off the school bus at the beginning of each day- another big reason for latenesses to school- an effort to avoid the gauntlet!

The law asserts that the school is responsible for each student who is transported to school from the time they leave their house in the morning till they return. That, of course, is ridiculous because we have enough to worry about in the building and since administrators are not really like the assistant principal in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off- running all over town chasing people like idiots, to expect the school to police someone’s street for the thugs that dwell there is very unrealistic. That being said, once again the bullies are at work at the bus stop in the morning terrorizing the weakest kids. Is anyone surprised that most new Elementary & Secondary schools are being built with pick-up lanes and older buildings have changed the traffic patterns in the parking lot for the cars of parents who drop off and pick up their children each day? 15 years ago, kids either walked to school or rode the bus, with very few parent pick-ups Overprotective? Tell it to the parents of children undergoing this terror every day. Additionally, even the students who are not bothered have learned early on to keep their mouths shut lest they be next on some bully’s “Hit list”.

An additional problem is that, in a school district where the population is sparse, there is only one bus run and all the schools in the district start and end at the same time. This means that your kindergarten child is on the bus every day with high school students, hearing all of the jokes, the verbal and physical abuse, and maybe even providing the bullies with additional easy targets for money, pencils, pens, markers, as well as abuse.

Another problem that nobody grasps is that almost all school districts, in an effort to contract out for everything including teachers, have done away with their busses and hired an independent contractor. The job of bus driver now is taken by someone happy to work part time and with no idea about discipline codes of the school and the disciplinary process. We recall one situation where a bus driver blared a radio the entire ride to and from school with religious music. Another driver curses and swears at the kids who are experts at getting an untrained adult to “take the bait” and lose their temper. In a school bus, people are hit, kicked, spat upon, verbally, assaulted, groped, propositioned, denied seats, their books and belongings are tampered with, they are tripped, the abuse folks, is endless. Occasionally you can see a story of a parent who, fed up with the school’s process, takes matters into her own hands and enters the bus to confront the bullies. Attention you professionals- this is real stuff- we aren’t making it up, and it is torture every day for children that nobody in the school ever hears about, and the driver cannot be expected to see since his or her eyes are on the road. Occasionally, an untrained bus driver will try to set up some kind of specific seating, and often they operate, like the supervisors in the school, with incomplete knowledge of who the culprits really are or they completely ignore the bullies in the hopes that nothing big will happen that day. The truth is, nothing actually noticeable ever happens when a adult watches, yet a girl could still be having lewd remarks about oral sex whispered in her ear, or a kid could be getting touched in some inappropriate way or having someone tamper with their violin, and no adult can see it and no one dares talk about it. The students law of Omerta- is even more iron clad than the Mafia.

I bet you think this is all exaggerated- I mean, really, it can’t be that bad can it? After all, I work in an upper middle class place that fancies itself to be like a private school. Please, we implore you school people, make friends with the students who operate on the dark side. They will enlighten you as to the goings on in their world that you don’t see even if you are looking in the right direction. Well-to-do students can be as cruel and heartless and, in our experience, often even more so than their less fortunate counterparts- and the parents of these children are much quicker to threaten bringing in the “dream team” of lawyers as opposed to working with the school to improve their child’s behavior.

Now we switch to the classroom where one would think that law and order and the prevention of bullying would be the easiest to accomplish because there is a confined area with a teacher watching. Here are some examples of how children can be bullied in plain sight right in the classroom. I take you back to 1965. We are in the band room of a suburban high school where the morning rehearsal is taking place. A very overweight Japanese boy was the tuba player. At least twice a week, the bullies, of which the writer was at least an encouragement to the bullies would have him kicked out of band practice for passing gas out loud during the rehearsal. When the loud gas-passing sound occurred, everyone in the section would get up and walk away yelling, ” Ugh, Benny (his nickname) that’s disgusting”, “I’m not sitting near him”, “he’s a pig”, etc. This would happen during a pause in the playing and the band director’s attention was diverted. The band director, ever the willing dupe, went for the frame up and would angrily toss Benny out of the rehearsal. The problem was, Benny was not passing gas- one of his tormentors was making the gas passing sound, and when it was made, everyone in the section joined in the collective disgust at “Benny” passing gas. In an assembly, when there was a lull in a speech being given by the principal about patriotism, this writer, seated halfway back in the middle of a row, got up to use the lavatory. A “friend” yelled out, “This is boring, I’m Leaving!!! Everyone in the auditorium immediately looked at me and I stood there trying to tell nobody in particular that it wasn’t me who said that. I got detention for a week and worse, of course, since it was still the sixties, even more when I got home.

That is one kind of dilemma. Here’s the next one. A student punches another student in class or pushes his books off the desk for example. The victim, tired of the constant abuse that has been going on every day decides to confront the bully. The teacher turns around from writing on the board, sees the victim standing up in front of the bully in a confrontational pose and immediately sends the victim to the office for his/her aggressive behavior. Do you know your students? After the first few days, any experienced teacher already knows, either by sight, or through the grapevine, which student requires constant scrutiny. When the bully is sitting there looking innocent and a non bully is striking an aggressive pose, do you think that might be a good time- or perhaps after class, to delve into the story with greater intellectual curiosity? The bullies, friends, know the precise moment to strike. As a teacher, do you pay attention to who is going to the lavatory and the time the person always goes? You are right, it’s an impossibility for the most part. Know that abuse is occurring in the lavatory constantly. Creating a process which disturbs the process of the bullies is a good thing, but a teacher must be aware of the context. False equivalency where both parties are told essentially to “sit down and shut up- both of you!” is hurtful to the one who was not doing anything in the first place, but it does bring order, if not justice, to the classroom. Call some Moms and invite them in to sit with their child throughout the class. When the grapevine learns of what you did, most people will stop their devious actions because the shame of one’s Mother sitting in class next to him or her will be a sufficient deterrent.

How about the locker room? How about students paying another student money to snap a picture of someone in the locker room changing clothes and having it go viral? Tampering with one’s clothing and belongings, stealing, physical abuse, verbal abuse is occurring all the time in the locker room and the teacher is generally sitting in his or her office or waiting for the students in the gym. Yes, we realize that the school district refuses to hire anyone past a half day because then they have to give the person benefits, but if there is any place that needs constant watching it is the locker room. Do you have any idea how many students never dress for gym in the high school, choosing instead to take an F and then take Physical Education in summer school where they are required to, for example, walk around the building each day or swim, or go bowling?

Finally, you have all heard the adage, usually said in jest that, “You just can’t find good help anymore!” Well that adage is true in the world of substitute teachers. Most schools cannot find enough trained teachers to serve as substitute teachers. We have seen substitutes actually sleeping in class and others who smell as though they have never showered. Most commonly, however, the substitute teacher seldom, if ever is actually certified in the area of the person he or she is replacing. Now you have a situation like this… A student who strikes another student is seen by the substitute teacher who asks, “What is your name young man?” “Joe Smith!” answers the student.

Bullies love substitute teachers because to begin with, they don’t know anybody’s name. Add to this the fact that the new teachers we see today are different than the old timers who saved up every day so when it came time to retire, the retiring teacher could collect full pay for a year or more. Today’s teacher misses school for the slightest reason without any regard for 30 years from now. The result- infinitely more days with substitute teachers coming in when they can be found.

The week after Thanksgiving is Christmas shopping week, for example- don’t look for a full staff in that week! When substitutes can’t be found the regular staff is asked to watch the class during their duty free period or whole classes are sent to the auditorium where adults who would rather be somewhere else are assigned the task of watching the students during a duty-free period. Check the floor of the auditorium after a couple of mass coverage classes… that will give you some idea about the passion that the supervisor is bringing to the task at hand.

In summary we make these assertions and offer these admonitions.

  1. Most of the bullying that occurs in schools occurs in plain sight and goes unperceived by adults because the adults cannot conceive of such a thing happening in such a place. They approach their responsibility with no grasp of context. They are good at keeping the noise down. No justice can be expected here for the victims. The greatest plans by mental health professional and counselors are doomed to failure without a grasp by the adults of the world in which a student operates.
  2. There is no actual safe place in the school from a bully. The busier the place the better. Bullies need to experience some discomfort and disruption of their process. Be creative. Get Mom in there to walk next to Junior all day for starters. Machiavelli would have referred to this as a “Signal Example”- the effect of which is to deter future bullies- it’s the reason that the law considers punitive or exemplary damages- to send a message to future would-be wrongdoers.
  3. Take a close look at students who frequently miss school, are late for school or class, never dress for gym, or never go to the cafeteria because they want to help a teacher. Do all of these people really look like trouble makers trying to beat the system thus deserving of letter- of- the- law school discipline or do they give off a different message?
  4. Have a meeting in August with all bus drivers to explain to them how the disciplinary process works so there might be a shred of consistency between this disparate group of individuals, most of whom think school discipline would be no problem if the administrators would just “kick a little more butt.” Nobody told them that this kind of punishment is generally against the law- and educators do not make the law- politicians do- educators just try to carry out the law.
  5. Have incentives for teachers who do not miss any school days. At least they know the names of the students. The bullies hate that!
  6. Take the time to develop a working relationship with students who are usually on the wrong side of the discipline code. Many of them are dying to talk to an adult about what is going on but no one has ever taken the time. The police ALWAYS have their informants who operate under cover. Have incentives for these individuals too. The effect will be to disrupt the plans of the Bully. You will know, for example, when someone has brought a weapon to school. In one district, we excelled at this. Kids were always coming in early to tell us things. They became very caring too and would alert you if a certain student looked “strange” that day and could be on drugs, or drunk, for example.

We guarantee that you will be amazed at what you, the adult, did NOT know about what was really going on- even if it was hiding in plain sight. Bullying is never going to go away. Schools are a microcosm of the society we live in. How civil is that society these days? A look at the embarrassing behavior of our elected officials should provide you with some clue as to how fast bullying will disappear. Creativity, perseverance, and awareness are crucial to making any changes in the status quo- get some parents and kids on your side as well.

Fashion Adventures In A Girl’s Life With Anna Sui

It takes a lot of hard work and determination to reach the Top of the fashion business, and Anna Sui has certainly succeeded. Time Magazine included her in the list of five most important fashion gurus of this decade. She was born in Detroit in 1955 and moved to New York City after High School. She enrolled at the prestigious Parsons School of Design and went on to work as a stylist for the fashion photographer, Steven Meisel.

After designing clothes as a young woman, inspired by the models in magazines, Anna Sui found her own style. She developed her designing business throughout the 1980s and was ready to put on her first runway show in 1991. The models included Naomi Campbell and Linda Evangelista. Anna launched her own clothing line the following year and opened the first of her boutiques in New York City. Eventually she would have boutiques in Tokyo, Osaka, Hollywood and Los Angeles. She has continued to be particularly popular in Japan, and has designed the costumes for an anime (Japanese style animation), Television series.

The collection is sold in over thirty countries, and commands premium price tags as befits a top designer Label. The range of dresses, tops and skirts etc. has a modern feel about it, and Anna Sui says she was inspired by the rock chic look. There are also accessories for sale such as bags and belts. Her status Is sealed by the endorsement of an impressive list of Celebrities including Madonna, Christina Ricci, Cher, Courtney Love and Patricia Arquette. James Iha of the Smashing Pumpkins is also a fan.

In 1997, the footwear collection was launched. Shoes, boots and sandals are available as casual day wear and for formal, evening occasions. There are several different materials used, including silk, shearling, suede, patent leather, velvet, and snake and lizard skin. The Anna Sui Fragrance, aftershave and cosmetics line came out two Years later. The fragrance bottles are particularly Creative, and include a butterfly shape and a model Head design. Toiletries include Eau De Toilette Spray, Body Cream, and Bath and Shower Gel.

All of the collection is available to order online, and there are sales items posted on the web site. Anna Sui continues to bring out her collections, drawing from different inspirational ideas each time, and the shows are always well received. She is always open about the source of her ideas, and still keeps an eye on what’s in the magazines, mixing that with some typical looks from the past.

The Basics of Anime-From A-Z

Anime – Anime is the affectionately shortened name for animation in Japan. It’s written in Katakana, as a derivative of English and general refers to any animation conceived and drawn in Japan. There is however a certain style and method to anime that can be recognized the world over as unique to Japanese animation. The simple, exaggerated character features and surprisingly detailed settings along with the actual thematic content, usually a coming of age story of some sort. Some character’s development through a series of trials via uniquely Japanese morals of perseverance and strength.

Baka – Japanese slang for stupid. It’s affectionately used to describe every goofball, oddball, and erstwhile character in an anime. Usually applied by a female toward a male, it’s best defined as the catch all insult for a nerdy, insecure male (and sometimes female) who accordingly does something stupid. Hence, Baka.

Cosplay – The unique and overwhelming practice by anime fans the world over of dressing as their favorite anime and video game characters for the sake of meeting up with other extreme fans and comparing their realism. Because anime is drawn (mostly) to scale, and the clothing is generally brightly colored and completely impractical, characters are easily recognized on those who have a particular talent in this arena. Expos are held for cosplayers annually, as well as contests. It’s something of an underground phenomenon in the culture that’s become much less underground in recent years.

Doujinshi – The Japanese word for fan created manga based on existing characters. Pretty much the anime equivalent of the Star Wars novels. There’s a huge market for these fan created fictions in Japan, and because of the massive pool of talent they’re often of equal or greater quality than the source material. Seems like a good way to go. Keep your future employees on the outside, drawing for free.

Ecchi – A Japanese word that roughly translates to ‘pervert’. Basically it’s used to describe all those school girl animes in which the skirts stop about two inches above their panty line, and yet somehow magically stay on. It’s not quite the caliber of Hentai as it tries not to be pornographic, but the fan service and suggestive themes quotient are fairly off the map.

Fan – For American anime connoisseurs especially, the fan is one of the only ways to get access to some anime, and until recently pretty much the only way. Fan stands for Fansubbing (the fan produced subtitling of shows ripped straight from Japanese television ), Fandubbing (the slightly less done, and often much funnier dubbing of the same material by fans), Fanfiction (the written form of Doujinshi, often involving a whole lot of Ecchi), and Fan Service (in which a show will purposely do something over the top or suggestive because they know that’s what their fans are looking for). The fan is what floats the market for anime, especially in America where until very recently the market was mostly a blackmarket.

Gundam – One of the original fathers of anime. Around for 25 or more years now, Gundam has produced more than 25 series and movies since it debuted in 1979, and continues to be one of the most popular series on each every year, with an exponential growth of productions of late. The show was one of the pioneers of the giant mech anime and an underground favorite in America for years….and it makes for some pretty funny cosplayers.

Hentai – And of course, with any art form, when you have a large enough fan base, someone perverts it. Pornographic anime has something that normal pornography does not though, lots of creepy weird tentacles and occasionally a plot. Yes, in line with many of Japan’s finer arts, Hentai does try occasionally to inject a bit of intelligence into their mindless sex. And the production quality tends to be higher even than normal productions. Speaks to the nature of porn, I guess. It runs the industry.

Idol – The idol mentality runs the Japanese pop culture sphere. Their singers are everywhere, their movie stars are singers, their movie-star-singers are tv hosts. Their movie-star-singer-tv-hosts are voice actors. It’s all cyclical and it means mass exposure in a crowded country of a 140 million. And it leaks over in the shows they make, and the mass production of the shows (usually one a week every week until the show’s done…for some shows that’s years) and the production values all speak to this.

Jump – Shonen Jump is the monthly manga publication in Japan that broke some of the biggest names in anime. Dragonball, Naruto, One Piece, Kenshin and so on. The super popular children oriented anime that rules the charts comes out of this little gem repeatedly. And now it’s here in the US. Power in circulation.

Kawaii – Japanese adjective for cute. And that’s how you describe half of what they produce. Super cute, to the point of nausea at times. The ability to turn the ugliest, most disturbing things into cute and cuddly mascots is a distinctly Japanese ability. Just look at half of the Pokemon. Butt ugly, but cute nonetheless.

Love Hina – Love Hina didn’t invent it, but it did it best – the dorm fantasy anime that is. And it is its own subgenre now. A dorky young male who has no luck with the ladies finds himself thrown into a situation where he’s surrounded by women daily, who ultimately assault him and make his life a living hell, at the same time as falling in love with him. Ecchi moments abound and often our altruistic hero ends up with a bloody nose on the rocks outside of a hotspring somewhere.

Manga – Ah yes, the birthparent of the whole thing. Manga is the comic book, hand drawn formula for the whole craze. Started as an offshoot of the woodprint art forms of the 19th century and earlier, Manga took compelling stories and serialized them into fun, easy to read comic books. Not to say that the Supermans and Detective Comics of America didn’t help this fad along.

Neon Genesis Evangelion – A derivative of the giant mech anime, Evangelion broke into new legions of fans by being what some anime had dared before, but few had fully succeeded at – mature and intelligent. A common enough theme these days, Evangelion managed to take biblical, complicated social, and personal themes and craft them into an often times funny, apocalyptic epic 24 episode series and 2 films.

Otaku – in what is actually an insult in Japan, translating roughly as ‘you’…but more commonly known as ‘no-life geek who spends all his time building GUNDAM models…’ The definition is slightly less caustic on our side of the Pacific, generally referring to someone who merely enjoys the depths of Japanese pop culture, watches anime after school, and draws characters from their favorite shows on their notebooks. More of a clique in school than a mock-worthy subculture. But, that is quickly changing of course, as the anime arena is growing so rapidly here in the states.

Pokemon – Pokemon is the new generation of child-oriented anime born of marketing necessity, used to sell video games, video games used to sell the show. It’s been on for almost 10 years now, and still new episodes pop up. If the Japanese do anything right, it’s sell stuff, and Pokemon continues to sell, actually marketing to an entirely new generation of kids these days.

Queen Emeraldas – I’m copping out a bit here because Q as we all know is the crappiest letter in the alphabet to do an ABC list with. Queen Emeraldas is a good anime though. An OAV produced in 1998 as an offshoot of the Harlock and Galaxy Express 999 series, Queen Emeraldas continues the story of a popular character that if you haven’t seen either of the previous shows will make no sense to you.

Rurouni Kenshin – Kenshin is the epic tale of a wandering samurai in the Meiji era of Japan known as Kenshin. He finds a small martial arts school in the new capital and after saving the young heir he stays with her and undertakes various quests to help the government which he helped to form a few years earlier survive. He’s an incredibly badass swordsman and attracts a nice little entourage of characters. I don’t know if it’s the most important thing in the world in terms of anime, but it’s one of my favorite shows, so it’s on the list.

Shoujo – The term used to describe anime targeted to young girls. All the Sailormoons and Cardcaptor Sakuras out there fit here. It’s actually a nice niche to have and does extremely well here as well as Japan. It’s a testament to the popularity of a sub culture when it actually takes the time to stop drawing violent battles between half witted males to appeal to young girls as well.

Tezuka Osamu – The Walt Disney of anime, Dr. Tezuka created Astroboy, Kimba the White Lion, Metropolis and countless more anime classics that more or less established the art form. He’s the guy you want to look at whenever you ask, “who’s responsible for all this?”

Urusei Yatsura – A monstrously popular 1970s and 80s franchise spanning almost 200 episodes, 10 movies and a handful of OVAs. It’s pretty much about a group of “obnoxious aliens” (the actual translation) that invade and goof up earth. They’re all girls, and were a part of the beginnings of what made Love Hina happen, a lecherous teenage boy surrounded by strange, sexy women. Yup, they sure know how to make shows over there.

Voice acting – Come on. It is animation right? Unlike the US animation sector, Japan’s voice acting pool is vast and actually talented. US companies use the same people over and over and pay them peanuts, and they generally suck at what they do. In Japan, the respect from doing what they do is that much more pronounced…and they don’t suck.

Wings of Honneamise – Another landmark anime, this is the first film produced by super studio Gainax (the guys who did Evangelion among others). It’s essentially a science fiction, military fantasy with some twists to history and technology. One of my favorite examples of how anime bends the genres in which it operates as well. It’s out there and that’s why we love it.

X – Yup, just X. From Clamp, a group of female artists whose fan base (and quality of workmanship) is obscene, X is one of their earlier films, later made into a series. The style is best described as Shoujo without the service to only girls.

Yaoi – The slightly homosexual version of Ecchi, Yaoi is usually a homoerotic fan service of male characters in typical situations acting sexually ambiguous and often getting rather close to each other. When out put is so great, you can expect anything right, and the chic-gay of Yaoi is immensely popular in Japan.

Z, Dragon Ball – I cheated again, so what. Dragon ball Z was one of the key reasons that anime spread to the mainstream here in the states after all, with a couple hundred episodes and memorably long (and I mean looooong) fights, Dragon ball Z captured the fan base of all the young violence prone kids nationwide and kept them enthralled into their 20s (yeah, yeah…quit looking at me).

And there you have it. 26 keys to understand the anime sub culture, a veritable A-Z of what you need to know…minus Q and Z.