In Schools We Trust? Leadership in Loco Parentis and the Failure to Protect Students from Bullying and Harassment
TRUST AND BETRAYAL IN EDUCATIONAL ADMINISTRATION AND LEADERSHIP, E.A. Samier, M. Schmidt, eds., pp. 141-152, New York: Routledge
Posted: 6 Jan 2010 Last revised: 14 Feb 2011
Date Written: January 6, 2010
This chapter begins by asking if students and families can trust schools to ensure safety from bullying and harassment, particularly in light of a recent group of bullying-related suicides in America. The stories of three such students are discussed in context of in loco parentis, gender as speech and the Tinker doctrine, and the responsibilities of school leadership to ensure student safety from bullying and harassment. The chapter then turns to a discussion of bullying as a way for youth to police traditional gender roles among peers. The tolerance of peer abuse such as bullying and harassment by school administration, either through a lack of prevention or intervention, is therefore argued to constitute a systemic violence in schools.
Even though evidence suggests a strong relationship between gender role nonconformity and the increased likelihood of experiencing bullying, research and practice in educational administration have yet to address how schools might better support gender nonconforming students. Acting in the place of the parent, schools and their leadership betray the trust of those students and their families who experience bullying and harassment, particularly when it is based in peer gender role regulation. The chapter concludes with a discussion of possibilities for school leadership to move from (potential) failure to protect students from bullying and harassment toward the promise of regaining the trust of students and families.
Keywords: Education, Law, Gender as Speech, Bullying
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