Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Neighborly

Well.

If you’ve been following the comments on my blog, and it seems that loads of you do, given the number of emails I’ve received over the past 24 hours, then you’ll know that I’ve inadvertently caused a bit of a scandal in the neighborhood with my post about bullies.

I have this neighbor: she’s a really nice woman, one of those people that I always wished I’d had the chance to get to know better. We have boys the same age, but they move in different circles at school, and we move in different circles in this vast compound of ours. Plus which, we both have zillions of kids, so we’re both usually so busy chasing little ones at the playground that we don’t have time for more than superficial chit-chat.

Anyway, it seems this neighbor really did not like my post. Her feeling was that, in a relatively small community such as ours, the mere fact that I posted this story meant I was identifying the boys involved.

I disagree. I believe any of the other parents who complained – and there were several – would know which child was involved. But no one else would. He doesn’t even live in our neighborhood, so likely no one here knows him. And the injured boy also lives elsewhere.

I don’t think there was anything wrong with my post. I read it and re-read it today, and I really don’t think I identified anyone, or pointed any fingers at any kids. It’s true: I called this boy a bully. And I stand by that name. What he did was inexcusable.

But here’s the thing: I don’t want to upset my neighbors. I’m upset about the whole situation, and I’m worried about my son’s safety, but I don’t want to drag the rest of the neighborhood down.

As far as I’m aware, none of my neighbors read this blog. (if you do, de-lurk, please, and let me know you’re here.) Several of them know I fancy myself a writer. But if they’re on to my blog, they haven’t given me a hint, not in the three years I’ve lived here. I don’t think the entire neighborhood is gossiping about my blog – I’m pretty darn boring, when it gets down to it. But then, I’m usually oblivious to the latest neighborhood gossip, so maybe I’m wrong.

I don’t want the neighbors trying to guess which kids are involved. My point in posting was not to single out the kids. Rather, I wanted to express my disappointment in the school, for an inappropriate response to a dangerous situation.

I don’t want my words to destroy the relationships I’ve built over my time here in Beijing. And I certainly don’t want my words being used to cause injury to any other children.

So, to the one neighbor who has taken the time to de-lurk and let me know she was disappointed: Megan, I apologize. Thank you for letting me know you were upset. The post about bullies has been taken down, and I will continue my fight with the school in a less public venue.

7 comments:

Z. Marie said... [Reply]

While I did see Megan's point -- and you probably can't know for sure who is reading your blog, especially since it's been mentioned in Foreign Service Journal and is linked to in various places -- I appreciated knowing about your issues with the school. Not that we're considering a tour in Beijing anytime soon, but too many of the schools our kids attend overseas are promoted as exclusive and academically rigorous and such. (And some are, of course.) But too often we don't hear about "issues" until it's too late. Even more than a bullying problem, I think what you described is an administrative problem, pure and simple.

Jill said... [Reply]

I know I'm going to be a squeaky wheel here (and I play the role quite well apparently)... but in my personal and oh-so-humble opinion - you did nothing wrong with writing about the situation. Nor did you need to call attention to it or take it down.

It's your blog. Your opinions. Your fight. With the administration or whomever.

Of course, that's just my opinion... I just feel that if you can't use your blog as a place to vent, what good is it?

LeesOnTheGo said... [Reply]

True...it is your blog. True...it is your space to vent. Yet how commendable of you for taking the high road on this one and acquiescing in order to maintain a peaceful compound. Once in awhile that means more than venting.

Ambrose said... [Reply]

I missed that comment, but I did appreciate the post. I hope Megan also saw your column in Beijing Kids about how great your community is there.

Ken said... [Reply]

Your blog, your call.

But I wouldn't have taken it down.

Even if, for the sake of argument, local insiders could figure out who the bully is, I think warning people that there's a little thug about hurting people and then threatening anyone who tells easily outweighs the little thug's interests in privacy. But then, I've always despised bullies, and glory in seeing them come to sad-sack ends when they grow up.

My co-bloggers and I have had people ask (or demand) that we take stuff down. I've occasionally anonymized it --by replacing the name of a jackass attorney with "Jackass Attorney," for example -- but I like to leave the posts up to address the substantive point.

Bullying of kids is an important point. Violence in schools is an important point. It's worth keeping up. I support your decision because it's your blog, but I would have supported you the other way as well.

Donna said... [Reply]

Thanks - you all make good points. I struggled with this one, because I honestly couldn't see anything wrong with what I wrote. But in the interest of neighborhood harmony and all...

Of course, after I decided to hit "delete," another reader told me that the commenting neighbor posted her version of events on her blog. (And so the scandal continues!) I'm not sure how her blog could be considered private and mine public, but: high road, people, high road. None of that matters.

BTW Ken: I love the suggestion for anonymizing. Next time I feel the need to write about a bully, I will call him "Jackass Bully." But I probably can't use the phrase "Jackass Neighbor" and then claim I'm all about neighborliness, can I? Your blog is anonymous (and hilarious) so you can get away with that. Besides, this particular neighbor isn't a jackass - she just sees the world differently than I.

And Connie - you haven't weighed in yet, but I sure did appreciate your comment on the now-deleted post.

Connie said... [Reply]

Hi Donna, I'll just ditto Ken's post :) It's your blog. Write what you want, delete what you want.. you gotta do what makes you comfortable. There will be other times to blog about the negative, and the positive, things you discover about our overseas schools. (and 'do as I say, not as I do' neighbors :P )

Please. Write your own stuff.