01 December 2011
YOU HAD BETTER READ THIS OR I’M GOING TO GO RIGHT UPSIDE YOUR HEAD! YOU MORON!
Sound familiar? Did it grab your attention? Did it remind you of a particularly bad moment in your life? Good! Now don’t you forget that! OR I’LL HAVE TO REMIND YOU AGAIN! GOT IT!?!?
At different times in our lives we have all experienced some form of bullying in one way or another. We need set aside our antediluvian preconceptions about bullying to find a way to put the bullies to bed and cease their senseless inconsiderate attacks.
In fact we might find that there is already an infrastructure in place that given some minor modifications to their curriculum’s, our elementary schools could become a leading force in the resolution of this problem.
Sometimes bullying can be an isolated case, some illustrations of this behavior might be, someone cutting in front of you at the store or while you’re driving, or maybe even that person rudely snatching away some item off a shelf that you and this bully were both going for. It can also be something more prolonged for example, when “Scut Farkus” and his toady “Grover Dill” from A Christmas Story repeatedly beat up the neighborhood kids for what they considered fun. Although the example might be fiction, things like this really do happen every day. It could be that individual you encounter at school, at work or for that matter even the park. That sudden shock of an unexpected attacker other aggressive action either physical or verbal, it may even in some cases be written. Then there is that dreading you feel as you watch a bully heading in your direction, with little or no chance of escape, without feeling completely humiliated and embarrassed.
Bullying is definitely more prevalent and intense in kids then adults but some people never learn. Bullies also have more and more avenues at their command then just physical confrontations. Today’s internet and the social networking sites on it, allows them to take the act of bullying to new more complex and severe levels. There are camera phones to catch us at our worse and social network sites where pictures can be published for all to see. In fact social networking sites have become prime real-estate in the world of bullying and they’re used liberally and brutally with disastrous and tragic outcomes.
There used to be a time when the bully had to put themselves at some degree of personal risk to bully someone else. These days through the use of social network sites people are able to bully anonymously at little or no risk to themselves. People, who might under other normal circumstances never try to bully someone, are becoming bullies using the anonymity of social networking sites as a shield against the rage of the person their trying to bully.
Where does the idea to bully people come from? We all seem to have the capability of bullying other people even though most of us refrain from using it, at least using it to blindly attack people who have done little or nothing to provoke us.
Bullying comes from our earliest survival instincts.For example, when you see two baby birds in a nest and one is noticeably larger than the other. It has been observed by researchers that the larger birds push the smaller ones aside eating until they’re full, then and only then will the smaller one will get to eat.
Human children possess similar instincts.If you have ever observed a young family with one small child and another one on the way,the child is usually very excited that they’re about to get a sibling. However after the second child is born it’s not uncommon for the older child to act out against the younger one even sometimes vocalizing their disapproval of their new sibling.
As children grow older most of them learn to cope with and control these urges. However some seem to never quite be able to get a grip on this behavior entirely as they enter into later stages of child development and some even carry it through into adulthood. Hence that jerk that cut you off on the expressway wasn’t being overly aggressive; they were just behaving like a child.
Unabashed bullying in all its forms is unacceptable in a modern civilized society. Since it gets its start at a young age it would seem logical to make it the first place to commence with identifying and beginning to correct the behavior. Wikipedia defines Bullying as:
Bullying is a form of aggressive behavior manifested by the use of force or coercion to affect others, particularly when the behavior is habitual and involves an imbalance of power. It can include verbal harassment, physical assault or coercion and may be directed repeatedly towards particular victims, perhaps on grounds of race, religion, gender, sexuality, or ability. The “imbalance of power” may be social power and/or physical power. The victim of bullying is sometimes referred to as a “target.”
Bullying consists of three basic types of abuse – emotional, verbal, and physical. It typically involves subtle methods of coercion such as intimidation. Bullying can be defined in many different ways.
Bullying ranges from simple one-on-one bullying to more complex bullying in which the bully may have one or more ‘lieutenants’ who may seem to be willing to assist the primary bully in his bullying activities. Bullying in school and the workplace is also referred to as peer abuse.
It is also a behavior that seems to fall into the blind-spot of a lot of parents whose children’s actions place them in the category of bullies. Back in the mid-nineteen nineties Hilary Clinton created quite a debate when she quoted an African proverb (itself, debated as to its authenticity.) When she said “It takes a village to raise a child,” in this case she and the proverb might be right. Small corrections made early on in a child’s development might solve bigger problems down the road. So where might be the best place to start identifying and correcting this problem?
This is where schools if used, can be most effective, most k-8 school teachers have a pretty good handle on the group dynamics of their classrooms. They can usually tell which students are more assertive or aggressive and who the ones are that allowthemselves to be taken advantage of, or capitulate every time another child behaves aggressively towards them, and of course which just roll with the flow and don’t get bothered by anyone.
So how can we ask these over-worked, under-paid, and under-appreciated individuals to shoulder yet one more important responsibility? By developing easy to implement and effective programs short ones, taught over the many years the child will spend in the school system. These programs could be customized to focus on the kinds of bullying the child is most likely to encounter at their age. The program would not only focus on the act of bullying, but might also be constructed in a way to assist those who are most likely to be the targets of bullies by giving them the necessary tools and understanding to prevent themselves from being bullied.
As the child gets older and their understanding of the world around them changes the programs could also extend to cover more and more forms of bullying. Perhaps they could address issues that go beyond the scope of the conflicts between the bully and the bullied. The later programs might also be designed to include exercises in increasing one’s self-esteem and accepting others that they perceive as different from themselves. It might even be possible to get the teachers some assistance from youth councilors or maybe even law enforcement officers who specialize in youth problems.
All of this might be one way in which to combat the upswing in bullying, but what happens with the children that don’t seem to respond either well or at all to the programs as discussed? Now would be the time to include the parents.
Maybe an assessment of the child’s home environment might uncover situations there that exacerbate the child’s need to bully others or to be the perpetual victim of bullies. Once at this level of the issue it may be necessary, if possible to include some parental counseling. Bullying as was stated earlier is part of our survival instincts but as people grow and develop they tend not to use or rely on bullying others. However those that do use bullying as a tactic to achieve their goals tend to have learned re-enforcement of this instinct.
That learning comes from their own limited life experiences and one of the most likely environments for them to learn this is the home. One parent might themselves be a bully or constantly asserting dominance over the other or the parents themselves might be too involved in their own lives to realize the bullying child is taking advantage of younger and sometimes even older siblings. Unfortunately, the “re-enforced at home” bully could be one of the worse to have to deal with. Generally adults tend to bristle when others criticize them or their families. Dealing with these situations will require that extra measures be taken to ensure that the parents do not feel that their child is being unduly singled out. Doing so will hopefully enlist both their approval and support in order for positive changes to take place.
As a society why should we invest all this time and effort into what many would consider a minor problem? We should deal with it because the mentality of the bully manifests itself in many ways. In ways that most people don’t think about and in some that they do. Bully mentality is an integral part of street gangs and other fringe parasitical groups as well as those in organized crime.
The bully mentality comes into play with muggers, rapists, and murderers. All of whom generally need to dehumanize their targets in order to able to achieve their goal. In fact some serial killers started as bullies with a deep seated fear of inadequacy that evolved when just bullying alone no longer temporarily restored their fragile sense of self-worth. Wellington Menezes-Olivera who was recently captured in Rio De Jeneiro after killing twelve people is described as a bully. The Green River Killer Gary Ridgeway went through a brief time of bullying others just prior to the start of his killings. Being a bully does NOT automatically lead to becoming either a criminal or a serial killer it’s just one of many factors. In fact some serial killers were themselves the victims of bullying. Ted Bundy’s grandfather was a well-known bully in the New Jersey town where he raised Ted. Ed Gein the inspiration for such fictitious characters as Norman Bates, Buffalo Bill a.k.a. Jame Gumb of Silence of the Lambs, and Leatherface was bullied by his own mother.
Bullying is definitely in some way and in some cases is a contributing factor. Addressing the issue of bullying will not make all these problems go away but it will have a positive influence in the process of removing some of the violence that happens every single day.
Lastly, we should care and take some sort of action because of the rising increase in the suicide rates of young people due to this modern, updated, internet enhanced and text message assisted bullying that has taken hold. This most nefarious form of bullying feeds upon the frail egos of both young men and women at time in their lives when acceptance and popularity are of the utmost importance. So important in fact that some of them feel that once they perceive they have lost it, life itself seems to be pointless and they no longer have a place in it.
Sadly there is no quick fix for this problem. The mentality behind bullying can be changed. However, In order to obtain a real solution requires detailed planning, with the desire and commitment to execute that plan. Finally a commitment from everyone involved, of the resources necessary to complete a viable plan.
Attempt nothing. Do nothing. Gain nothing.
Clinton, Hillary. “Floor Speech.”Democratic National Convention.Democratic National Committee. United Center, Chicago. 29 Aug. 1996. Speech.
“Bullying – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.” Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.N.p.,n.d. Web. 2 Dec. 2011. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bullying>.
Shepherd, Jean (2003).A Christmas Story. New York: Broadway Books. indicia. ISBN 0-7679-1622-0.