Educating Yorkshire

The spin off to Educating Essex has attracted thousands of viewers over the past couple of weeks, and for this week’s blog Sarah shares her thoughts on the latest episode.

For the past couple of weeks I have been transfixed to Educating Yorkshire each Thursday evening, it has made me laugh, started heated debates with several of my friends, and the latest episode in particular has got me thinking about the bullying we saw and how different children could respond to it. The jury has been out among my friends regarding the punishments Jac-Henry received, and indeed whether he should have been punished at all.

At the focus of the episode was Jac-Henry, a boy who had been repeatedly targeted by bullies, and whose anger had made him lash out at people when provoked. At one point we hear how he has been excluded for punching another boy in the face following a series of threats and verbal abuse in the corridors. Jac’s friends saw this as a total injustice, voicing their thoughts to staff that he had been excluded for being bullied. Jac on the other hand saw the situation differently, explaining to his friends that he was in the wrong for hitting the other boy, so deserved his punishment.

I agree with his views, and those of his head teacher. There is no denying that he was in the wrong for lashing out, but I do think that perhaps more needs to be done for Jac to help him deal with his anger. We saw him undertaking an anger management course whilst at school, but the footage of this showed some questionable methods. A teacher explained ‘I know why this is happening, it’s because you’re a teenage boy and you’re full of hormones’. Surely if this were true, every adolescent would be lashing out and punching people- clearly this is not the case.

It did make me wonder if the underlying issues were ever really discovered. Any negative behaviour comes from somewhere, and it is my belief that unless the root of that difficulty is worked through, it is incredibly hard to challenge or change it.

Jac was in no means a stupid boy, he spoke with great clarity about how frustrated he gets with his anger and that when he is on the receiving end of bullying. He graciously accepted any punishment given to him following aggressive behaviour- but it was also painfully clear that he was being emotionally tormented by the comments other students were throwing at him, which made his anger build and build until he couldn’t take it any more and lashed out. Whilst the programme stated that several incidents where he had been verbally bullied or provoked had been sorted out and dealt with, I have to question if they had been dealt with fully. I’m not denying that it must be incredibly hard (or almost impossible) for school staff to keep track of any abusive behaviour from one student to another, but the fact that this was on-going suggest to me that more needed to be done.

That’s not to say that I believe the school acted too severely in their actions following these incidents. As Mr Mitchell explained to Jac in the episode- once you leave school, that sort of behaviour could land you in trouble with the police.

It seems that bullying in schools is rarely a simple matter to solve, and watching this programme made me all the more determined to really encourage the students we work with this term to think about the impact of their actions.

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