Posted by: Tammy Cravit | December 22, 2010

Bullying Isn’t Just Limited to the Classroom

It seems that schools and others in the school community are becoming more sensitive to issues of bullying. We clearly have a long way to go, but we’re perhaps starting to see more awareness, more movement in the right direction. But the classroom isn’t the only place where bullying can occur, as we can see from this Toronto Star story about the father of a 12-year-old hockey player who used his skills as a lawyer to bully the only girl off of his son’s co-ed hockey team.

The Star reports:

The controversy that seized the Toronto Ice Dogs PeeWee “A” club — minor hockey’s lowest level of competitive play — emerged last month at a parents’ meeting called by George Atis, who has a child on the team, but is not part of the coaching staff.

The Thornhill lawyer drafted the agenda which included this item: “Kayla Watkins — Player Ability Limitations and Suggested Options.”

“It is now 14 games into the season and I have noticed that Kayla’s play has not improved,” the agenda reads. “It is at the point where many of the team members do not want to play on this team if this situation is not addressed.”

Unfortunately, Mr. Atis’s heavy-handed tactics, which also included thinly veiled sexual harassment allegations and other assorted attacks on Kayla’s character, was successful in his efforts. Kayla quit the Ice Dogs and joined an all-girls team where, she reports:

“Everyone’s nice to each other. It doesn’t matter if we win or lose. If we lose a game, it’s okay because everyone picks each other up.”

As parents, teachers, administrators, and as human beings, we should be prepared to face bullies wherever we find them. The harm to our children, and to our communities, is just as severe whether the bully is a classmate, teammate, coach, or another parent. As for Mr. Atias, he’s unrepentant, saying only that he never intended for Kayla to see the meeting agenda and that if she did, “it is very unfortunate.”

(Thanks to Above the Law, which linked to this story along with its own very sardonic, but in my opinion accurate, commentary.)

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