You are in your classroom, you ask the kiddos who the first president was. They say Abraham Lincoln, an obviously incorrect response. Shortly there after another child calls that child stupid. Another calls him a dumb-ass. And another calls him a f*?$ing idiot. You respond by ignoring the unkind comments and then later work with the kiddo on the incorrect response.
What message does that send to the kiddo who answered incorrectly? Yep. He feels unsafe. Most likely, he will not participate again. Certainly will be less willing to take risks in the classroom. Why? Because you did not protect his dignity.
What message does that send to the kiddos who spat out those unkind remarks? Yep. It tells them that they can do whatever they want when they want. Why? Because they've just learned that there aren't consequences for their misbehavior. (It also tells them that if someone did the same to them their dignity most likely won't be protected either.)
What message does that send to the kiddos who observed these interactions? Yep. They have just learned risk taking equals public humiliation. They've also learned that they are unsafe in their classroom community. Why would you protect them if you didn't protect that other kiddo? Not to mention that they've just witnessed unkindness and now they are under the impression that it is okay to be unkind to others.
How is this any different than the recent decision by the NFL Commission? It's not. When the commission decided not to penalize the players who publicly (and profanely) tore apart the refs on Twitter during the recent lockout these are the messages they sent. To the refs. To current and future players. To fans. Some may see that when these refs signed on to this job, they knew that they would be opening themselves up to this. Would we say the same about children? That when they go to school, they do so knowing that they most likely will be humiliated by their classmates when they make a mistake? Of course not! That just sounds ridiculous!