Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Bully Boys (And Girls)

We hear a lot about bullying these days, but it’s nothing new. I think maybe the fact that kids spend half their time on Facebook and such places makes the verbal part more pervasive but, say what they will, words aren’t the same as getting the crap beat out of you. It’s always been a negative side of life and always will be; it doesn’t go away just because we get older. We just call it by different names, since it changes form. Adults know it as back-stabbing, gossip, racism, harassment, and a slew of other names. Sadly, it even serves some legitimate purpose some would argue, for it sets up the “pecking order” in society that determines who rules and who is ruled. Probably every species of animal shows the same behavior, so we can’t argue that it’s a natural phenomenon only with man.

I’m ashamed to say that I was part of the problem during some of my younger years. I occasionally got roughed up by guys bigger or rougher than me and I occasionally did the same to a few of those “below” me. It’s sort of like the cartoon where the boss snaps at his employee, the employee goes home and snaps at his wife, she snaps at the kids, the kids yell at the dog and the dog chases the cat. Sometime after my hormones started kicking in, I not only grew a bit more, but my attitude started changing. I was disinclined to put up with any guff from others, but I also quit passing it on. In fact, I started standing up for the underdog. Strangely, I never had to fight any of my previous “betters;” they seemed to sense that it was no longer wise to give me any guff and backed off. That was probably for the best, as I still couldn’t fight that well; I was just stubborn and wouldn’t back down. No doubt my “attitude” (since I didn’t START any trouble) probably saved me quite a few butt-kickings.

I think the “zero-tolerance” way that schools deal with bullying these days is unwise in THREE ways. First, zero-tolerance means no allowance for extenuating circumstances, NEVER a good thing.

Second, by constantly coddling the victim and not teaching them strategies to help deal with bullies, we leave them unprepared to face adulthood, where the bullying changes form and is often even more pervasive. Much damage has been done over the years by bullying, and in NO WAY am I condoning it, but raising a generation of whiners and snivelers hasn’t accomplished anything either, except to add to our society’s attitude of victimhood.

The third way we are dealing with bullying wrongly is to not search out the reason that a person becomes a bully in the first place. I doubt if I’d left my teens yet, before I started to figure out that most bullies had trouble at home. Some were beat around by their parents, or older siblings. Some were from broken homes and didn’t know how to deal with the emotional issues of a situation that was not of their own making. Some were going hungry, and were ill-clothed and ill-housed. Many felt completely unloved. How could a kid growing up like that help but act out their frustrations?

There’s actually a fourth way that we’re dealing wrong with bullying, and that was to take God out of the classroom. Granted such things should be taught in the home, but they often aren’t. A faith in God can help a “victim” deal with unfairness, or even give them courage to stand up for themselves. By the same token, if kids learn that God loves everybody, EVEN THEM, a few will be less inclined to act out their problems toward others.

I don’t know about you, but I get sick of hearing about bullying on the news. It is a VERY REAL problem, but it takes common sense and a little religion to solve that problem. Neither one seems to be an acceptable option for those in “leadership” positions that are supposedly struggling with the matter. © 2013


Chickenmom said...

Times have change a lot from when we were kids. My Father always said never, ever start a fight. My brother and I would have to deal with him if we did. If someone else started it, we had better finish it.
I was whooped constantly by the neighborhood brat until I couldn't take it anymore - I broke her nose.
She always left me alone after that. I think I was 7 or 8 at the time. My Mom gave me a spanking - my Dad took me for ice cream.

Ralph Goff said...

It is natural for the strong to prey on the weak in the animal world. I see it all the time. Unfortunately it is all too often true with us humans too. Having been on the receiving end of bullies and teasing for years I have not forgotten that it makes life a misery. Whats the answer? Corporal punishment for the bullies? I have no idea Education? I don't see much hope of the world changing any time soon.

Gorges Smythe said...

Good for your dad, Cm!

The world only changes one person at a time, Ralph. Sorry about what you had to endure. Personally, I think every kid should get boxing lessons. As for teasing, that requires a little more effort.