Things Not to Say About Bullying….

When we talk about the words and phrases that can cause headaches for school administrators I’d put “boys will be boys” right at the top.  If someone reports bullying, or asks how the school addresses the topic, this common expression should be on the “do not say” list. 

“Boys will be boys” sounds pretty close to “we can’t do anything about this.” Or worse: “we’re not going to do anything about it.”  When schools get sued over bullying, the accusation is that school officials knew what was happening and turned a blind eye to it.  The legal terminology is “deliberate indifference.” 

So it’s a good idea to emphasize in staff training that this is a phrase that should not be uttered.  If you do that, I can predict that more than a few in your audience will have a thought bubble above their heads along these lines: “Yeah, ok, I won’t say it. But it’s true.” 

So how do you handle that? 

I suggest punctuation.  Where there is a period, try subbing a comma for it. Thus the statement becomes “Boys will be boys, but in this school we’re making an intentional effort to teach our boys what authentic masculinity looks like.”

Tomorrow we’ll close out this week with a few more substitutionary commas.


Tomorrow: Commas to the rescue!