FICTION: Our Academy Franchise Offers Robust and Innovative Cyberbullying Policies by Benjamin Rogers

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That fat shit Tera is having a go at Mollie again. Fourth time today. About her pigtails now. Twice about the jumper she wore in her birthday photos posted over the weekend (pink rhinoceroses playing tennis), and once for arriving just before the late bell. No replies yet from Mollie.

And Derek keeps sending empty messages to Ahmet. No subject line, no text, no audio or video. Just a full stop.

.

Eight of these in the first hour of the day. I locked Derek’s iPad and notified the Practitioner. Suspect it has something to do with words they’d exchanged outside. Hard to know who started what, but still best practice to enforce a cooling off period. Derek could be a racist little shit. He could come from a home full of older, meaner racist shits. Or Ahmet could be a shit in his own right. Some of the messages the Arab clients send to each other. I run all foreign stuff through a translator. A couple of our Arab clients are certifiable dickheads. Law of averages I guess. Though you’d think they’d be nicer to each other, having to deal with the Dereks of the world. Never seen anything nasty from Ahmet though. Hardly any activity other than assignments, a few quick peeks at videos of some Italian football player, FIFA clips. Innocent enough. It’s probably all down to Derek.

The 4C node just lit up with Fortnite chatter. Supposed to be watching a science clip. David Attenborough, lucky little shits. Learning about the food chain, the biological imperative. I’ve seen these penguins a thousand times and it still gets me. But here these ignorant fucksaws are sending digital bantz back and forth instead of watching the universal struggle against imminent death. Two thirds of the client group bored by how razor’s edge existence is for every other organism that isn’t them. A reliable internet connection is now what constitutes life. The Practitioner is busy sending emails. Gonna just lock up the whole node. Send a message. There. See how you like that. Down the corridor comes an explosion of whining, accusations. The Practitioner’s voice is raised. She’s always quick to yell. Should be back on track soon enough.

Finally a reply from Mollie.

Please stop

Fat Tera forwarded the message to the rest of the client group, including Mollie. Mollie now getting her message forwarded back to her from other client peers, along with pictures of her rhinoceros jumper. Six, nine, eleven, fifteen of Mollie’s client peers, all sending Mollie back her plea. Vicious shits. It’s a brilliant jumper. If I had a kid, I’d buy that jumper.

But we’ve been through this before. Had to have a sit-down at the start of term with the Franchise Executive and the two stakeholder families. Fat Tera’s parents seemed really nice, genuinely distraught at their kid’s cruelty. Mollie wouldn’t stop whining. Every time she talked she whined, and her parents didn’t seem much better. They were unhappy with the Academy Franchise, unhappy with Fat Tera’s parents. I get that. But they also didn’t seem to like Mollie much, either. Their own daughter. Not once did they talk to her directly. Never even used her name. Just she this and her that. She, her, she, her. Not even a you. And Mollie sat there and whined, and everyone interrupted her, especially her own parents. It was like they were embarrassed.

Message through to all staff. Lunchtime fight. I knew already. Happened right outside my door. Ahmet, Derek and several other boys. Derek called Ahmet a snitch, among other things. Crashing noises and screams. Very short. All clients involved to be externally excluded for a minimum of two days, the email reports, per Academy Franchise Policy on Safety and Liabilities. Signed, the Personal Assistant to the Franchise Executive. I draft a message to the Franchise Executive. Explain my role in the conflict, my view of things, that Ahmet seems like a good client, but I delete it. No point getting personal. Policy is Policy.

Something similar happened with Fat Tera. I kept having to freeze her iPad. Persistent conduct in violation of Academy Franchise Policies and all that. Regulation to the letter. But it made Fat Tera feel singled out, so her parents called in to lodge a complaint. Said they’d noticed she was gaining weight, eating in secret. Babybel wrappers in the airing cupboard, in the garden shed, behind the toilet. Said these discoveries coincided with the days Tera’s iPad privileges were frozen. I felt a little bit sorry for the kid, honestly. I’m not in the greatest shape myself, and I know how it feels to feel bad about that. But what else could I do? Policy is Policy. It’s not up to me. So the Franchise Executive books in another meeting. A Stakeholder Intervention and Support Conference. Drags Mollie and her parents in again as well, looking even more embarrassed, if that’s possible.

It was news to me, but I’d earned myself a formal reprimand. For doing what I’d been told. Policy enacted to the letter, like I said. But the Franchise Executive said I’d acted in violation of a Policy that was fundamental to Academy Franchise success. The Ladder of Consequences. The Behaviour Policy by which Practitioners are required to abide. I told them nothing in my induction materials or procedural binders mentioned anything about it. I was hired to prevent interclient conflict on the Academy Franchise issued iPads, not manage clients directly. But the Franchise Executive just kept talking like I hadn’t said anything. Apparently the Ladder of Consequences dictates that, at the first offence, Practitioners are supposed to write demerit notes in client planners. Not a word about it until I’m there in the Franchise Executive’s office, fourteen eyes narrowed on me. “At this Academy, we are all Practitioners.” Like I said, news to me. The Franchise Executive gave off a lot of smoke about that, about my dereliction, my failure to live up to the institutional aspirations they’d been generous enough to include me in. Both sets of client stakeholders seemed relieved by this. Pleased, even. Pleased to have a Responsible Third Party (me). And their pleasure increased the volume and heat of my reprimand from the Franchise Executive. The two girls just looked baffled. Me, getting the bollocking instead of them — probably looked a bit baffled myself.

So poor little Mollie’s on her own. I can’t freeze Fat Tera’s iPad anymore. Not for the rest of the term. She’s got her own Policy now. Every time she bullies Mollie or anyone else, I have to send notifications to the Franchise Executive and the Practitioner, where, for probably part of a minute they sit on the top of the pile before being buried beneath the next minute’s avalanche of messages.

What I can do is freeze out all the other little shits who sent Mollie back her own message, her sorry little Please Stop, and notify the Practitioner to put the note their planners, or do whatever step ought to be done on the Ladder of Consequences (I get the feeling that the bottom rung is under some pretty serious load). Not much, but best I can do. Might give Mollie a break for a little while, until the kids get it in their heads that she snitched just like Ahmet didn’t.

A client in 6D keeps typing foul words into Google. Cunt. Shit. Shitcunt. Cockcunt. Cuntcock. I freeze the iPad and notify the Practitioner to apply the Ladder of Consequences.

About five seconds later I get this email:

!!!!Why did you frrez Digby Wright’s browser heis doing research of Tudors and there dogs, it’s very very important as parent’s evening tonight and he has to have it done!!!

 

Warm Regards,

Mark Thompson-Werthy, BA Hons

Head of Year 6

Aspire Academy Trust Franchise no. 32

Broadfist Lane

Putney

What Mollie needs to do is leave the bloody whining and just scream for once. Let the world know she’s not some wet sock. Maybe the little shits would respect that. Shock a bit of empathy into them. Who knows, they might even let up? She’d be doing us both a favour.

This just in from Fat Tera to Mollie:

Your a stupid ugly bich.

Then:

Your a stupid ugly bich and nobody care’s because everybody knows its true

Then:

Even Salim knows its true he told me he would know becasue he has to sit next to you and you stink

Don’t show this to him because I prommissed not to say

 

Then:

I found that dumb jumper on amazon £6 lol your so poor

Then:

Bitch

Then I get an email from the Franchise Executive demanding to know why I took it upon myself to interrupt Mr Thompson-Werthy’s lesson:

It is beyond the scope of your remit to monitor all electronic conduct that occurs on Academy Franchise premises. Nor do you have liberty to insinuate your own opinions of whatever pedagogical goings on you happen to sneak a glimpse, particularly not those of a Practitioner with the qualifications of Mr Mark Thompson-Werthy, who may I remind you received a grade of Outstanding from Her Majesty’s Inspectorate in 2011. You were contracted to prevent any and all interclient conflict which might occur on Academy Franchise Issued Tablet Computers, thereby minimising this Academy Franchise’s risk-exposure and liability in what has too often been written off as simply a natural hazard of the industry. The Aspirations Academy Trust brooks no such laissez faire tolerance with regard to matters so critical to the success and security of both clients and institutions. In an Outstanding School such as This Academy Franchise Aspires to be, bullying cannot exist. May I further remind you that, as a matter of Policy, any failure on your part to satisfactorily carry out this limited and unambiguously clear remit world result in all institutional liabilities being brought to bear immediately and directly upon you personally.

 

Warm Regards

Mollie’s problem is that she believes what the people like Fat Tera tell her. She plays their games on their terms and so she starts believing it. If she just stood up for herself they’d stop. Just once. They’d look at her a bit differently. They’d see, hey, here’s someone with maybe something to offer. Someone with a rich inner life, you know? Someone who’s not afraid to take a stance on things like rhinos playing tennis. Not poor, just someone who appreciates how to stretch a pound. A reader of books. Good books. Someone with ideas about all sorts of things. If people really took the time to look, you know, they’d see, here’s a person who wants kids someday. Not yet, but someday. A person who doesn’t deserve to be treated like this. A good person. If they’d just look they’d see someone with dreams, and hopes, and cool hobbies. Just once.

I reply to the Franchise Executive’s email by forwarding each conduct alert message from Digby Wright in 6D.  I send: Cunt. I send: Shit. I send Shitcunt then Cockcunt then Cuntcock, one after another. And each message comes with an attached cache of what images and websites the search produced.

The Franchise Executive sends a reply.

I don’t read it. Instead, I forward the original message from Mollie:

Please stop

The Franchise Executive sends another reply.

I forward Tera’s reply:

Please stop

I forward each of the fifteen messages Mollie received for having the audacity to ask nicely:

 

Please stop

 

Please stop

 

Please stop

 

Please stop

 

Please stop

 

Please stop

 

Please stop

 

Please stop

 

Please stop

 

Please stop

 

Please stop

 

Please stop

 

Please stop

 

Please stop

 

Please stop

I have access to school funds. I use it. I order eight-hundred jumpers with pink rhinoceroses playing tennis. Shipped to this school. Arriving this week.

I hear another email alert but I don’t bother to look. I am already out the door.

glasses

Benjamin Rogers

Originally from Kansas City, Benjamin Rogers is a stay-at-home dad by day, English tutor by night. He has worked as a professional sailor, newspaper editor, and secondary teacher, and is currently finishing his debut novel.

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