Remember RoboCop? The 1987 sci-fi movie centered on murdered police officer Alex Murphy, who was re-created as a crime-fighting cyborg. The popular film spawned two sequels, several TV series, video games and multiple comic book adaptations. Just for fun, EdWorld re-imagined the beloved character as a classroom teacher dealing with the all-too-common problem of bullying. While this ultra-violent movie is certainly not appropriate for student viewing, it turns out that RoboCop has many lessons to teach educators—read on to see if his strategies might work in your school!
|Screenshot of artwork by Ryan Vogler|
Alex Murphy sits behind a desk, fondly remembering his crime-busting heyday. His infamous helmet, the dark visor that covered his piercing eyes, is nowhere in sight. With street crime extinguished, Murphy has pursued his passion for teaching health, physical fitness and advanced robotics engineering. He sees working with students as his next chance to change the world for the better.
Unfortunately, peer bullying is a big problem at Mr. Murphy’s school. Many kids face violent neighborhoods, unstable home environments, and a lack of role models for positive behavior. This leads them to act out by bullying other students.
As a crime-fighting cyborg, RoboCop’s “Prime Directives” were to: (1) serve the public trust, (2) protect the innocent and (3) uphold the law. In his new life as an educator, the ingenious Mr. Murphy has applied these directives to school-wide bullying prevention. The Prime School-Wide Directives, as they relate to bullying, have significantly improved student behavior. They include:
1. Serve the public trust
In RoboCop, citizens of crime-ridden 1980s Detroit came to feel as though law enforcement “had their back,” and Mr. Murphy recognizes that it’s equally important for students to believe that adults will protect them at school. He has ensured that all staff take seriously student reports of bullying. In addition, he has convinced school administrators that when a bullying situation arises, a concrete safety plan needs to be put in place for the targeted student. Since his state’s laws also require that parents of the targeted student be invited to school for a meeting, Mr. Murphy makes sure to sit in on these meetings and gather parent input on how to best ensure the physical and emotional safety of the student. And he never forgets to carefully document all safety measures implemented.
2. Protect the innocent
“Excuse me, I have to go. Somewhere there is a crime happening.”
As in his RoboCop days, Mr. Murphy continues to have a “sixth sense” about student bullying behavior. He knows that protecting the innocent starts with opening one’s eyes to peer cruelty. He has made sure that school staff monitor bullying “hot spots” and recognize all forms of student-to-student mistreatment when they occur—including not just physical assault, but also homophobic and racial slurs, disability-based teasing, social exclusion, and taunting based on weight or other physical characteristics. And since he knows much of the behavior occurs when adults aren’t watching, he also has trained students to be the school’s “eyes and ears” for observing and reporting bullying. To supplement these efforts, Mr. Murphy has encouraged staff to post supportive posters affirming everyone’s right to feel safe in the building.
3. Uphold the law
Just as he brought order to the streets with his no-nonsense RoboCop style, Mr. Murphy has helped institute a set of clear school-wide rules prohibiting bullying. He works with school leadership to ensure that these are consistently enforced. At the same time, he realizes that compared to a city under law-enforcement lockdown, a school should have a more caring climate.
He encourages staff to avoid simplistic, zero-tolerance bullying policies where bullying students receive harsh automatic punishments that do little to change behavior over the long term. Now, staff focus on re-educating the bullying student and providing constructive outlets for mastery/control and social status. Although targets of bullying often request harsh, robotic-gunfire-style punishment for the bullying student, Mr. Murphy makes it clear that he’s working hard to prevent the target’s future victimization. This is ultimately more satisfying for students who have been bullied.
Article by Jason Cunningham, EducationWorld Social Media Editor
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