Wednesday, February 8, 2012

There's Something Fishy Going on Here

Bullying is all over the local media here this week.  It's all because of an incident that occured in rural Newfoundland.  If you don't want to read the article, or if you haven't already heard, a 10 year old boy went home to lunch, and came back to class smelling of the fish he'd been lovingly served at home.  Apparantly his classmates objected to the fishy fragrance and began tormenting him about the smell.  But this isn't the part that has people talking.

It was the boy's teachers actions that have caused the debate.  After removing the child from the room, she then went on to spray the boy with Febreeze.  When the boy returned home at the end of the day, he told his mom what had happened to him, contacted the media and ka-boom, we've got ourselves a story.

But I think we've got ourselves the wrong story. 

People have been weighing on in whether or not the teacher's actions were right or wrong, Whether it was a case of good intentions and poor decision-making mangled together, or simply just an insensitive action. 

But I haven't heard anyone look at the bigger issue, that when a child is being bullied, straight away we run to "fix" whatever it is that is gaining them the negative attention of their peers.  By attempting to irradicate the odor on the student, we are somehow giving justifiction to the students who were so offended by it in the first place. 

Because let's face it, kids don't get bullied about things like being beautiul, or fitting in too well.  Kids who bully hone in on whatever it is that is making a child stand out.  It might be a fishy smell, it might be a big nose, a stutter, or a developmental delay.  None of these things can be fixed with a quick spray of Febreeze, no matter how grand it makes you smell.

So how about we stop trying to make our kids blend in, stop making them smell as sweet as their friends who nibbled ham and cheese sandwiches for lunch.  Instead of working on the kids who are already targeted by their peers, let's work on the kids who are so quick to pick out someone's faults, or so quick to join in the laughter.

Because then we're teaching acceptance.  And tolerance.
And that smells pretty good to me.