How do I hate fourth grade? Let me clout the babes….

My wife told me this morning of another harrowing tale of fourth grade, Taiwan style. CL, my daughter’s friend with the learning problems, has no one to protect her in the afternoons because we only let my daughter go a half-day. One afternoon last week when my daughter was away, seven of the other students took CL’s bookbag, dumped out the stuff and scattered it, and then filled it with trash by the simple expedient of upending the garbage can into it.

One of CL’s problems is that she cannot put together a comprehendable narrative of the events in her life — she can answer a question like “Is your mother here?” but cannot communicate what happened to me yesterday – so her mother is unaware of when things go wrong. Eventually it came to her attention, and naturally she took it up with my daughter’s teacher. My daughter’s teacher told her to take it to the principal. No biggie.

Those of you who are apt to feel that in the US we overreact to little things should ponder events like this. The seven suffered no punishment for a severe and degrading act of bullying that others also witnessed but did nothing to stop. The student harmed had not provoked the act in any way, except in being learning disabled, no more than the do our dogs, whom our neighboring kids regularly torture in small ways. There is an unwritten rule in Taiwan’s authoritarian social culture that if I can bully you because you cannot stop me, I should bully you…..the culture of impunity, learned young.