Should we care about bad behaviour?

Wayne rooney, man united swears at camera

Tony Blair tells a story in his book A Journey of when he lived in Islington

I had to go out to dinner. I walked down to the station. As I passed the end of our street, a bloke was urinating against a wall. I stopped. ‘what are you looking at?’ he said. I said, ‘You, you shouldn’t be doing it.’. He took out a large knife from his coat. I walked on.

Tony blair ex prime minister britain

Tony Blair

I hated it. I hated the fact that he did it. I hated even more that fact that I didn’t stop him. I hated the choice I was made to make: stop him and risk ending your life because someone urinated in the street – hardly the stuff of martyrdom – or walk on.

Two items on the news today reminded me of this. Firstly, the complaint by Wayne Rooney that he feels hard done by the FA two match ban for swearing. The Independent reports:

Wayne Rooney bears a clear sense of injustice after being told he must serve a two-match suspension for his four-letter outburst at West Ham on Saturday.

This for a player who earns millions of pounds a year to do what he does.

Then the Daily Mail (who else) complains like mad of a school in Ely who has decided that bad behaviour is no longer acceptable. In the words of the Daily Mail

City of Ely Community College in Cambridgeshire launched a ‘zero tolerance’ policy on Monday after sending a list of 14 draconian rules to parents.

So what are these draconian rules? No doubt they are beyond what any reasonable person would think unacceptable?

The list of banned behaviour includes wearing outdoor clothing indoors, smoking, eating in class, chewing gum, eating in undesignated areas, dropping litter and being late.

Other measures include having a mobile phone or iPod visible, wearing earphones outside the collar, refusing to obey orders, rudeness, running and misbehaving on the school bus.

That’s draconian?
Hardly unreasonable!

On the first day that this policy was introduced 236 children were put into detention. The second day it was half that (according to the head who was on Radio 5 this evening). according to the Mail this had dropped to 30 by lunchtime today.

Why is the head doing this? To ensure that the teachers spend time teaching rather than spending all their time controlling bad behaviour. At another school in Lancashire teachers have gone on strike because of the strain of coping with bad behaviour.

One child I know was beaten up by a pupil at their school and the child who did it was given one day internal exclusion and the school didn’t even notify the parents! The child then saw one teacher say to the bully when he refused to take a particular seat – “well I’ve tried. Sit wherever you want”.

If we want a civilised society then we need to start with the small things and we as a society need to back people standing up to the bullies and the bad behaviour.

I am pleased that the head of Ely Community College is prepared to make a stand. I am pleased that Wayne Rooney has been given a two match ban. I hope other players and role models will be given equally short shrift and that more schools will make sure that pupils are both safe and well behaved.

Of course, it also means that we accept that if our little angel isn’t quite a little angel at school we back the school and don’t give them so much grief that they might back off.

It might even mean that your favourite footballer can’t play for a few matches. But take rugby. In rugby they introduced “draconian” rules to ensure that behaviour was better that only the captain could talk to the referee etc and behaviour has been much better.

Maybe we should be less tolerant of bad and rude behaviour.

What do you think?


11 comments on “Should we care about bad behaviour?

  1. Darren
    April 7, 2011 at 7:28 pm #

    Pathetic this…… I have 3 Daughters at this school and as ive said before they are more interested in dramatic shows of intention rather than substance and actual teaching. I am100% behind the uniform and respect aspect of this but My daughter was sent to the hall today for putting her hand up and saying that she could not see the board (I will be going there tommorow to find out which rule was broken) I have been told that teachers are settling scores with pupils and that some are being targeted for any breaches whilst they are looking the other way with the more favoured. We all know some are disruptive that’s not in dispute here and I can say that the uniform thing is long overdue as Im sick of seeing the scruffy kids from ECC around the town. For abuse and uniform and disruptive behaviour yes but for a hair band on wrist (yes this was one) or chewing gum or wearing a scarf then common sense with a warning and ECC our kids are not guinea pigs this should have been thought through and done in a sensible way I did not get any notification of this until yesterday (wednesday) so saying that we all where notified is a load of rubbish too!

    • Will Cookson
      April 7, 2011 at 8:11 pm #


      I agree with you for the need for respect but I can understand your anger. Obviously, I don’t have children at the school and if you haven’t been notified until after the new policy and/or your daughter hasn’t broken a rule then its understandable that you are angry. However, why are you SO angry? I notice that you have posted this same comment on other websites. Your daughter hasn’t been beaten up, she isn’t in danger. She may have been unjustly given a detention and I imagine that if this is the case then the school will need to apologise.

  2. Geoff C
    April 7, 2011 at 10:31 pm #

    Well I understand about frustration with schooling and injustices, along with unbalanced discipline – personally I can barely wait for our daughter to leave her current school – they have SO got it wrong SO many times – come down like a ton of bricks unfairly in situations they have already been forwarned about – criticised, complaiined – letters home nagged bulied – but when we ask them to get something right we get silence usually. So many times I have had to write to get an injustice sorted out.
    The general state of this country seems to be ever getting lower – and I know no one can fix it single handed – but we can conduct ourselves in a manner apppropriate to good clean lifestyles and behaviour. Again – I have heard of incidents where the policing seems out of balance – situations where something we might percieve as important gets overlooked or ignored in favour of something much less significant – but that gets there targets up to a better level.
    To much target and performance driven jobs these days!

  3. TheEvangelicalLiberal
    April 8, 2011 at 8:59 am #

    Well, to be honest I’m not that fussed about swearing or peeing against walls – I’ve done both in my time when the occasion seemed to demand it! And all these situations rather depend on degree, context and what effect they have on others.

    I certainly don’t like the culture we live in (well, in Croydon anyway!) where it often feels like you can’t challenge genuinely anti-social behaviour for fear of getting knifed. But I don’t really mind the odd bit of ‘bad’ language or whatever – there needs to be a balance.

  4. Will Cookson
    April 8, 2011 at 9:59 am #

    But Harvey, that’s the problem. How do you create a space that all can enjoy if its all so subjective? You may not be offended but how about those who find it threatening?

    • TheEvangelicalLiberal
      April 8, 2011 at 8:41 pm #

      Fair point, but on the other side I don’t want a society in which no-one’s allowed to offend anyone else. Like I say, there needs to be a balance, and you’re never going to get it right for everyone. As Christians – or any others who are trying to lead fairly decent lives – I guess we’re aiming not to take offence too easily ourselves but also not to give offence deliberately… but it’s always going to be a seesaw/tightrope/other metaphor as applicable. 🙂

      • Will Cookson
        April 8, 2011 at 10:27 pm #

        Sure offence is ok as far as I am concerned provided that it isn’t obviously threatening. So when I was at a Religious question time with the head of the Muslim Council of Britain I said that it was my right to be offended, little knowing that he was about to get substantial “damages” from the BBC for being offended by something someone had said.

        But there is still far too much of a balance in favour of not saying that something is anti-social and unacceptable. You should see some of the exclusion cases that I deal with. Children with 100-200 incidences on their times at school. Many trivial (although many children have NO incidences recorded) with quite a few that are simply unacceptable. We then can get parents ranting at us as governors saying that we are out of order or similar.
        Sometimes we can accept things that really are not for the public good.

    • TheEvangelicalLiberal
      April 8, 2011 at 8:44 pm #

      The King James Bible certainly doesn’t approve of urinating against walls:

      1 Kings 21:21: “Behold, I will bring evil upon thee, and will take away thy posterity, and will cut off from Ahab him that pisseth against the wall, and him that is shut up and left in Israel” (KJV) 😉

  5. Jean
    April 9, 2011 at 4:11 am #

    Ha ha Harvey! Does the KJV have a comment on peeing against the wind? Because some times that’s what it’s like when attempting ‘behaviour management’ in school. It seems the word ‘discipline’ is not PC. Consistency is the key but too often, reported incidents are not carried through because of ‘special circumstances,’ leading me to wonder why I bother. This tells students that it is OK to behave badly if you have mitigating circumstances. Unfair I think on those without ‘just cause’ who accept the consequences of their actions without too much fuss. I could tell a tale or three.

  6. Esther Somerson
    April 9, 2011 at 7:51 pm #

    Is the man who took this country into war in Iraq, probably causing the backlash of the London bombing, and highly likely told the public lies about the reasons for going into that war the best person to use as an example of a challenge to bad behaviour ? He did say, on one of his famous interviews, that he prayed about his intervention, so maybe that makes his behaviour more acceptable than the youngster who probably didn’t pray before urinating against the wall. ‘Praise the Lord and pass the amunition.’

  7. TheEvangelicalLiberal
    April 9, 2011 at 10:46 pm #

    As an aside, the KJV quote shows that in the society in which it was translated at least, peeing against walls was acceptable – and so was a word that we now consider mildly offensive. So perhaps these things are to a degree relative and fluid… er… on second thoughts perhaps not the best word under the circumstances! 🙂

    Of course, joking aside, I totally agree that there need to be generally acceptable standards of behaviour and indeed language for a society to work, and that discipline is a good and necessary thing – particularly when dealing with toddlers and teenagers. But it’s only part of the story.

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