Parents Slam School Officials After Seeing New Rules For 5th Graders

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As we send our kids off to school, we expect them to follow the rules. But, when parents at one elementary school saw a list of guidelines given to their fifth-grade children, they were outraged.

Lincoln Public Schools Issues Controversial Rules o Fifth Graders
Lincoln Public School’s Anna Zeman Elementary School (Photo Credit: Google Maps)

Lincoln Public Schools in Nebraska found themselves in hot water after giving students some bad advice on a hot topic. As we are all well aware, bullying remains a problem among children in schools. How we deal with it might vary, but not many are in support of LPS’ recommendations.

Don’t tell on bullies or you’ll be labeled a tattletale and no one will like you. Also, if you respond to a bully, then you are actually the one starting the fight. Those are just two pieces of the advice given in a flyer that discusses dealing with bullies, which was sent out to fifth-graders at Anna Zeman Elementary School, according to Lincoln Star Journal. Unfortunately, it only gets worse from there.

Stock image (Photo Credit: Pixabay)

Rule 1:

In all, the handout was a list of 9 rules, starting with: “Refuse to get mad. Anger is a feeling we have towards our enemies, not our buddies. When you get angry, you are treating them like they are the enemy. Besides, if a bully finds out he/she can get you angry, you have become their puppet.”

Rule 2:

“Treat the person who is being mean as if they are trying to help you. No matter how insulting or mean they may sound, be grateful and think they really care about you,” rule 2 tells the children, adding, “This does not mean you have to believe what they tell you.”

Stock image (Photo Credit: Pixabay)

Rule 3:

Don’t fear the bully or treat them like an enemy, rule 3 advises: “Do not be afraid. Fear is something we feel toward enemies, not buddies. When you are afraid, you are treating the bully like an enemy. If you are afraid, you are automatically putting the bully in the stronger position, and you automatically lose, and since the bully wants to keep winning, they will continue to do things that make you feel afraid.”

Rule 4:

If you’ve been teaching your child to defend themselves, even just verbally, that’s a no-go according to the Lincoln Public Schools flyer too. “Do not verbally defend yourself. We defend ourselves from enemies, so we are treating the other person as an enemy not a friend. When one person attacks and the other person is the defender, the attacker is in the stronger position, so the defender is automatically the loser. If we defend, we lose,” rule 4 reads.

Lincoln Public Schools Issues Controversial Rules o Fifth Graders
Lincoln Public Schools sent these rules for dealing with bullies out to some fifth graders. (Photo Credit: Courtesy Josh Mehlin via ABC News)

Rule 5:

We can agree with rule 5, where it says “Do not attack,” but unfortunately, it insinuates a bully is your friend. “We attack enemies, not friends,” it reads. “If I attack you back, I am treating you like an enemy, so the bully will in return, treat you like an enemy. It takes two people to fight, so it’s the person who retaliates or responds, who actually starts the fight.”

Rule 6:

“If someone physically hurts you, just show you are hurt; do not get angry. If someone hurts you, you want them to feel sorry and apologize. If you get angry, they won’t feel sorry,” rule 6 absurdly tells the children, most of whom are just 10 years old. But, perhaps it’s number 7 that’s the worst.

Lincoln Public Schools Issues Controversial Rules o Fifth Graders
A Lincoln Public Schools teacher instructing a student (Photo Credit: Facebook)

Rule 7:

“Do not tell on bullies,” rule 7 says, instructing the victims to stay quiet as to not become a bigger target. “The number one reason bullies hate their victims is because the victims tell on them. Telling makes the bully want to retaliate. Tell an adult only when a real injury or crime (theft of something valuable) has occurred. Would we keep our friends if we tattled on them?” it asks.

Rules 8 & 9:

“Don’t be a sore loser. No one like a sore loser. Would you like to play with someone who gets all upset when they lose? Lose gracefully and be a good sport; kids will like you better,” rule 8, the only rule that seems sound, reads. Like rule 5, rule 9 begins okay, saying, “Learn to laugh at yourself and not get ‘hooked’ by put-downs. Make a joke out of it or agree with the put-down.” Sadly, the examples given encourage the child to make fun of their siblings and parents instead: “For example: ‘If you think I’m ugly, you should see my sister!’ … ‘If you think I look like a nerd, you should see my dad!'”

After reviewing the odd list, it comes as no surprise that parents of children at the Lincoln Public Schools didn’t take too kindly to their kids being given such instructions. The school responded by making a post on their Facebook page. In the post, which has since been deleted, they redirect people to a different worksheet which includes tips like “contact a school staff member” and “do not minimize or make excuses for bullying behaviors.” One can only wonder why the school didn’t use this version in the first place.

Still, many parents weren’t satisfied and continued to voice their disgust on the Lincoln Public Schools Facebook page, forcing the school to issue a more formal apology. Zeman Principal Donna Williams sent an electronic message to families, as LPS Communications Director Mary Kay Roth explained that the flyer was not approved to be sent home but was inadvertently included in fifth-graders’ folders that went home to parents. “It’s a staff issue, so we’re taking care of the staffing error,” Roth added. “It wasn’t supposed to be sent home.”

Unfortunately, there’s no word on the most important aspect of this: What have the students who were given bad information been told? Have they all been instructed that this was bad information and been given good information? Or is that being left to the parents? Although Lincoln Public Schools said teachers will talk to all fifth-graders to clarify how the district believes students should handle bullying, there were no specifics on what those lessons would include.

This brings us to an important point to be learned. As parents, we can’t be at the school every day to monitor what administrators, counselors, and teachers are telling our children. So, we must make our best efforts to teach important lessons at home. Use this as a learning opportunity to talk to your kids about what should be done in the case of bullying. Our children should be comfortable and encouraged to bring any troubling situations to an adult. Although they should avoid fighting at all costs, if they are physically attacked, they have a right to defend themselves.

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