Been a bit of news about bullying lately…
Thought I’d weigh in.
So, recently a video went viral of a kid here in Tennessee, making an emotional plea for people to stop bullying. If you’ve spent any time on Twitter or watched the news, you might have heard of it. The first wave of responses –from celebrities and the general public – predominantly seemed to be supportive and positive. (The next wave – the reaction to the reaction – going on right now, not so much, but that’s a different an altogether more depressing post that I’ll save for some time when we’re all less likely to collectively slit our wrists and sink into the warm bath of oblivion.)
I may have mentioned my thoughts on bullying here before – somewhere – but it’s early and I couldn’t tell where from a cursory glance at my post titles and tags.
So, let’s get into this a little.
Bullying sucks. Period.
And bullies are shitbags. Period.
I don’t care why they do it. I’m not interested in the psychology of mediocre predators. It is enough that we recognize it as shitbag behavior and condemn it. Well, almost enough…
Here’s the thing, we’re primates. There’s no getting around that fact.
We’re primates. Bullying and intimidation are primate dominance behavior.
It sucks and we should encourage the eradication of that kind of useless and petty violence against each other. That being said, we can not ignore it as a fact of our current existence, and a thing that must be dealt with.
But it has to be dealt with on two levels:
1) Culturally, on the whole, we must demonstrate that bullying us unacceptable. More than that, that it is socially punishable to engage in bullying behavior.
I think we’ve done at least half of this – as a culture. We’re still working on the socially punishable part, but that may require more use of judgment than we’re comfortable or skilled with at the current moment.
2) Personally. In the moment. At the point of contact.
Viral videos are great for affecting the culture, but useless in the moment because they take place after the act; when there is nothing left to do but try to put together what ever pieces have been left over.
That is fucking stupid.
Especially for children.
Children should be taught to stand up to bullies, and to use violence if necessary.
A lot of people will say, without much evidence to back up the statement, that violence never solves anything. Pretty sure I’ve debunked that bullshit here before.
One of the many important lessons here is this: it doesn’t matter if you lose. It doesn’t matter if you get hurt. It only matters that you take a stand. Some times you get beat up, sometimes it’s the other way around. That is life. Learning to stand up and to sacrifice for what you believe is right, or against what you believe is wrong is more important than bruises or broken bones. Scars heal, character endures. Character creates positive change.
(Yes, I was bullied. All through my childhood and teen years. Every time I moved to a new city or school. The incidences diminished rapidly when I learned to fight back – and to do so publically.)
There will always be bullying – at least until we evolve beyond our primate dominance behavior patterns.
The odds are good your child will be bullied.
As adults we can lessen the sting of the fall, but we must also help them learn how to stand back up, and keep standing up.
Help your children to become strong, and to use that strength justly.
Give children the resources to solve these kinds of problems for themselves.
There has been a lot of, “how can I help make this better,” sentiment floating around for this latest and most public example of a victim of bullying in our culture. That speaks to our kindness and compassion as a people. I will not flog others for trying to be kind. But I will suggest an addition.
Teach children to fight.
To fight with their wills, with their wits, and with their bodies – if the need arises.
Teach children why to fight, and when it’s appropriate.
(And if you don’t know, go learn for yourself.)
Standout people are made by weathering hardship. Bullying is one of those hardships. Teach children how to deal with it – in the moment, at the point of contact – and we’ll make more adults who have the ability to make a change for the better.
Make enough of those adults, and one day – maybe – there won’t be any bullying or bullies.
It’s a hope, anyway.
As a teacher, when children/students fight as a result of these circumstances, I turn a blind eye when possible as a huge believer in letting them figure it out. I do think if the victims fought back with wicked senses of humor, the issue would be deflated to a degree.
Or if victims would just give their offenders and big hug and say,”I LOVE you!” Can you imagine how they’d be thrown off guard? That’d be some good YouTube material.
Maybe we should encourage our children to spend more time dunking their peanut butter crackers and Oreos into wine. Maybe would decrease the bullying.
Here’s a question–what’s the bullying scenario in Europe and Japan?
I’m not sure about Europe. But in Japan it’s almost non-existent in schools- ar least not in anything like the form it takes in America. Cultural confomity is too strictly adhered to for anything as transgressive as goes on in American schools.