BULLYING MAY BE EVIDENT IN THE SET UP OF GANGS OF STUDENTS IN SCHOOLS. Teachers may be confronted with apparently benign ‘ groups ‘ of students yet feel or believe they are anything but benign in their intentions. Teachers feel that the students are a ‘ gang’ intent on harmful and disruptive behaviour, but how to define and approach the issue? It is helpful to understand the differences and recognise bullying as a gang activity.

Students who engage in gang behaviour in schools generally  defend their activities as ‘just being friends’ and ‘just doing stuff together’. Amazingly, these same arguments have been presented in courts of law to defend the illegal and intimidating activities of outlaw bikie gangs in Australia, who declare they are just friends out together for company!

‘ . ….. we really need to interrogate the issue
of youth gangs. Are they just friendship groups of kids hanging
out mainly in public spaces who occasionally engage in criminal
or anti -social behaviour? (Are they) gangs in the sense that they
have membership rituals, hierarchal structure of power and
patterns of systematic criminal activities?   ‘ ‘Collins et al. (2000)

For the purposes of this discussion, the relevant factors are the
differences in the legitimacy and intent of the ‘group’ as they impact on the running
of the school or on the community. Teachers, parents and community members
must be prepared to reject and report disruptive groups whose aggressive and
threatening behaviour and illegitimate activities clearly identify them as a ‘gang‘.
We cannot be distracted by cries of ‘unfair’ from groups whose intentions are
clearly harmful. In particular, gangs of bullies who roam together with the sole
intention of attacking others can quite legitimately be identified as such and called
to account.

Groups who are harmless in intention and actions can be legitimately regarded as friendship groups. ‘ Gangs’ on the other hand have a clearly questionable intent and often clearly damaging regime of activity. They need to be addressed as such and disbaanded.

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