A viral video from the Youtube Mormon Channel called “Bullying – Stop It” has gained a lot of attention in some circles. Having faced some forms of harassment growing up, I just can’t get myself to watch more than the start. The reasons for my hesitation are varied and internal; and not all about relatability. Part of me believes those who are on the bullied end will hopelessly latch on, those who perceive themselves bullied for disagreements will use it as a political bludgeon, and the true bullies will ignore it and think themselves impervious to the message.
A certain fascination with stopping the “bully culture” has crept into the public mouthpiece sections of society. You can’t turn on the television for long without watching the horrifying advertisement showing a bespectacled thin boy getting torchured on a bus. All of these seem to ask students and teenagers to get involved when they see the actions of a bully. For me what comes to mind is the question where are the responsible adults. Without backup from authority figures there is no stopping kids from bothering other kids mercilessly. Its not in most of their nature or power.
Looking back, my experiences weren’t all that bad no matter if not fun. Others had it much worse than I did. Saying that now is no consolation for a young boy going through his own crisis years ago. I did learn a few personal lessons from those experiences that I would like to share. For the record, I admit these are my own ideas gained. Making it personal is the very core of how the bully is successful.
There are no adult bullies. Leaving high school was a blessed relief. I was no more forced to associate with people I didn’t want to be around on a daily basis. College turned out to be a nearly 180 degree difference. It wasn’t because I gained lots of new friends who did things with me and I with them. No, it was because people left me alone if that was my choice.
Some might argue that the idea no adults can be a bully is false. To a degree that is correct, but one weapon missing is lack of consequences. Very few can get away with what minors do against others. Most adults who act like a bully end up in trouble. There is government and law to fall back on if things get out of hand. Perhaps even a century ago this blanket statement would be considered questionable, but the formation of mobs has been highly curtailed. Call someone a name and generally talk back or ignore them. They continually get in your face and harassment charges can be brought up against them. Physical contact results in possible jail time. That includes abusers in relationships. Nothing gets legally far enough? Move or get a new job in rare cases. Kids don’t have that freedom of mobility.
Minors should have access to legal action same as adults. Like mentioned above, the advertisement showing a tortured boy on a bus in the “real world” would result in prosecutions. Instead, the bus driver just carried on doing the duty of driving them all around. No power of the State granted the bus driver to stop and do something about it if they wanted. Intervention might have resulted in the bus driver going to jail for abuse against minors.
The same laws that protect adults against libel, harassment, physical violence, and other criminal acts should be available to minors for their protection. That doesn’t mean there aren’t serious reservations with this approach. Taking advantage of the legal system is a time honored tradition among all humans. Yet, if not this way then what else is possible when teasing becomes physically and emotionally destructive?
Adults are not to be trusted. The main argument has always been if a minor is bullied then take it to an adult. This never works as hinted at above. First off, the adult is not given any legal authority to do anything to the abusing child other than put them in time out. The law has even made it harder because old fashioned corporal punishment has been outlawed. Calls to “stop it” have no force. Parents aren’t exactly the best source of punishment because there is no guarantee who will do what about the situation. The bully’s parents more than likely will defend against accusations and the bullied kid’s parents can’t retaliate. That leaves it in the hands of the kids where “Stop it” is at best a slogan. Of course, in the end that means no one is taking responsibility. Those who are capable won’t. Those who are least capable are asked to.
Punch a bully in the nose is the best way to land in the hospital. I really hate the advice that if you punch a bully in the nose they will leave you alone. That is the dumbest thing to do in the real world. The assumption is that the bully is secretly fearful and a coward. Not true.
what really happens in nine out of ten times is the bully turns around and “teaches a lesson” the now attacker will never forget. They know they are more powerful. That is why they do it. The bully reminds themselves daily by the act of just how powerful they really are. Insecurity is part of this, but they are not usually dumb enough to go after those stronger than them. Anyone who gives the advice about punching a bully in the nose better equally teach them competent self defense and possible consequences of getting into a fight.
Schools are not the best place to learn social skills. The argument against homeschool that says the kids will be stunted socially cannot be taken seriously. Public schools are a mess. I personally will stand any homeschooled student’s social skills up against any public student any day. Dare I say that public schools are where addictions, fear, hatred, and psychological pathologies are developed like weeds in a garden? The tools that used to be in the hands of adult teachers, for good or ill, have been largely taken away. Sending kids to public schools is slightly better than to a jungle or prison. One could argue they learn how to take the hard knocks of life. There is that I guess. Better to teach them how to interact with and act like adults.
Bullies have rights too. This is the hardest truth to accept. Sometimes what they say is right even if cruel intentioned. A major reason I can’t get fully behind the anti-bully crusade is the politics masquerading as sincerity. Telling people what they can and cannot do or say because it might hurt feelings is tyranny in the name of protection.
More often than not the prescription doesn’t have to do with helping others, but retribution and silencing opposition. The bullied become the bullies with intimidation, shunning, and repression in the name of civilizing the new barbarians. Part of this is because some adults can’t let go and grow up. Once leaving high school there is no reason to stick around or associate with the people who caused pain. Go a separate way and be glad its over. What to do about the kids while they are growing up should be the focus and not after the fact.