Thomas Sowell

There is a lot of talk from many people about bullying in school. The problem is that it is all talk. There is no sign that anybody is going to do anything that is likely to reduce bullying.

When politicians want to do nothing, and yet look like they are doing something, they appoint a blue ribbon committee or go to the U.N. or assign some Cabinet member to look into the problem and report back to the President -- hoping that the issue will be forgotten by the time he reports back.

When educators are going to do nothing, they express great concern and make pious public pronouncements. They may even hold conferences, write op-ed pieces or declare a "no tolerance" policy. But they are still not going to do anything that is likely to stop bullying.

In some rough schools, they can't even stop the bullying of teachers by the hooligans in their classes, much less stop the bullying of students.

Not all of this is the educators' fault. The courts have created a legal climate where any swift and decisive action against bullies can lead to lawsuits. The net results are indecision, half-hearted gestures and pious public pronouncements by school officials, none of which is going to stop bullies.

When judges create new "rights" for bullies out of thin air, just as they do for criminals, and prescribe "due process" for school discipline, just as if schools were little courtrooms, then nothing is likely to happen promptly or decisively.

If there is anything worse than doing nothing, it is doing nothing spiced with empty rhetoric about what behavior is "unacceptable" -- while in fact accepting it.

Might educators abuse their power, if the courts did not step in? Of course they could. Any power exercised by human beings can be abused. But, without the ability to exercise power, there is anarchy.

When responsible officials are prevented from exercising power, then bullies exercise power.

President Barack Obama has joined the chorus of those deploring bullying. But his own administration is pushing the notion that a disproportionate number of suspensions or other punishments for members of particular racial or ethnic groups is discriminatory.

In other words, if a school suspends more black males than Asian females, that is taken as a sign of discrimination. No one in his right mind really believes that, but it is part of the grand make-believe that pervades our politics and even our courts.

For years, there have been stories in New York and Philadelphia newspapers about black kids beating up Asian classmates. But do not expect anybody to do anything that is likely to put a stop to it.


Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute and author of The Housing Boom and Bust.

Creators Syndicate