You are currently viewing Wimpish and trivial response to bad behaviour

Wimpish and trivial response to bad behaviour

Recently four boys at St Patrick’s College, Silverstream were exposed after sexually harassing two female teachers.

The two female teachers resigned following the incident, and the four boys were allowed to stay after minor disciplinary action was taken by the college.

What I found so galling was the wimpish and trivial response the college gave to the boys’ behaviour. The college felt it was better to try to integrate the boys back into the college than to expel them.

As Stuff reported: “[School Rector Gerard] Tully said the school’s board of trustees discipline sub-committee had decided it was best the boys remained at the school, and “affect positive change” by working with them”.

The school felt it would be counter-productive to expel them, and more useful to deal with the boys’ attitude through “counselling”. What a putrid response.

The college allowed the teachers to resign, taking the fall for the boys’ inexplicable behaviour. The attitude of the college to the teachers’ plight was insulting to say the least.

Dare I say, why would any female teacher want to teach at a school which has such a negative attitude to women?

Now I am going to diverge here slightly. I came up in the school of hard knocks. I went to Wellington College where bullying was rife and these “bad” boys only respected one thing – discipline.

They didn’t like “soft” teachers and they dealt to them accordingly. When they were disciplined, they fell into line and caused very little trouble.

When I went on to coach rugby and cricket, one of my core principles was discipline and respect, along with developing communication skills and working as a team.

There is one particular incident that stands out in my coaching career that for me highlights the need to instill discipline and obtain respect.

I took over coaching the First XI at Onslow College (this is a number of years ago). It was a major challenge for me, having come from coaching rep teams.

This particular team was totally dysfunctional, had deeply embedded poor discipline, an appalling dress code, a lack of self respect and lack of respect for me.

One of my first tasks, before I could get on with coaching cricket, was to bring some basic discipline to the team.

At the first game I got the boys to stand in a circle,  and I addressed their dress code (it had been a major achievement just to get them to wear the right clothes). Shirts were hanging out and they looked a bloody mess.

I demanded there and then they dress like proper cricketers. It was a stern talk I gave them.

They all fell into line bar one. He simply refused to comply. I eyeballed him and told him to do as he was fucking told! He did comply. But that boy never played in my team again (he dropped himself – thank god).

Over the next months I pulled them into a team with uniforms (which they loved), called in the services of a professional coach who had played internationally, and slowly their standards and discipline improved.

Their last game of the year they finally won- until then they had the wonderful penchant of conjuring up any manner of ways to lose! That win was one of the most joyous moments of my coaching career; for the boys too, they were so happy.

What is the point of this story? Well, seven of that team went on to Otago University and all have gone on to good things.

I went to Dunedin on business and met up with six of them (the seventh one didn’t want to meet me because I dropped him halfway through the season). I played squash against one of them, had a beer with all of them and they thrashed me at pool.

It was a great honour to experience this and one of those boys is still in touch with me on Facebook.

Now I doubt whether those four boys at St Pat’s Silverstream will have the same respect for their college or their teachers as my former team now had for me.

They weren’t shown the door, or pulled into line in any way. It was shameful behaviour by both the boys and school.

I understand the purpose of the restorative process is to make the pupil aware of their actions and ensure they do not hold a “grudge”.

In this case, the four St Pat’s boys won. They are able to continue at school, with little consequence for their actions, while the two female teachers had to leave.

This appears to be particular attitude to do with a male perspective on sexual harassment at an all-male school, where teachers are sacrificed rather than boys punished. It sets a very dangerous precedent.

If I had followed the St Pat’s approach with my cricket team, that one boy who wouldn’t fall into line would have disrupted the team, harmed team unity and my authority would have been undermined.

Sometimes harsh action is appropriate, especially when trying to instill behaviour and values.

I’m not professing a hard regime, but a sensible one where students know where they stand, and what are correct values. The above case concerns me because this doesn’t appear to be happening at St Pat’s Silverstream.