We have been hearing tons about the bullying that goes on among kids for some time. There are numerous stories on the internet, in print, and on television about kids who are bullied and how bullying is horrible and traumatic and we should not allow it to happen. Our children will be scarred for life, and all sorts of calamities will occur, we're told. Suicides have happened, with teens and children so devastated by how they are treated by their peers that they take their own lives.
It is a problem, but we are trying to solve it. Bullying programs, designed to provide students with the tools they need to deal with bullies and their minions, are in place all over the country. Parents are up in arms the second they believe their child is being bullied; lawsuits over bullying are filed even before the ink is dry on a discipline referral. There are tons of expensive instructional programs out there that schools use to help with the problem.
Kids do still bully each other, despite all our attempts to eradicate it. Why is this? Sometimes I am sitting in on a parent meeting and the subject of bullying may come up. That's when I usually hear a parent make the comment "I don't know where my son/daughter learned that behavior." I want to speak up so badly that my jaw hurts.
Yes you do know, Mom.
Because bullying is not just a problem for kids.
Turn on the news. Donald Trump calling other people names, making disparaging comments about women? Ted Cruz threatening to shut down the government if he doesn't get his way? Vladmir Putin walking
in and "annexing" Crimea, following it up with attempts to acquire more of Ukraine? All the threats/violence/terrorist attacks over Planned
Parenthood? That cowardly(if you're proud of what you're doing, you don't wear a mask) group in the Middle East threatening to blow up this or destroy that? That's bullying.
Walk into your office. Does your boss tell you that you
"should just be grateful we gave you this job"? Do your coworkers go to
lunch and purposely exclude you? Do they roll their eyes when you
speak? That's bullying. A few weeks ago two of my colleagues decided to 'gang up' on me. They did not want to take 'no' for an answer. I got a feeling in the pit of my stomach, like someone was about to punch me. I've had years of dealing with bullying, both as a kid and as an adult, so I handled it. It was not a touchy-feely moment.
The real world, the one beyond education, is full of bullying, only there's no teacher or principal to step in and intervene. Our children are going to grow up and be out there in that world some day. Children look to us to figure out how to behave, and what are we doing? All the research based interventions in the world can't halt vicarious learning. Glorifying people like Trump and Cruz, labeling their namecalling and threats something to be proud of instead of ashamed. Putting them on the news every night, just to get ratings. What does that say about us? How can we expect a higher standard of behavior from kids, when the adults can't even get it right?
I don't really know the answer, or if there even is one out there. I'm used to standing up to bullies after a lifetime of experience, but I'll be the first person to say that my way is not always the correct way. But nothing is going to change as long as we allow this bad behavior from the adults out there to continue. As long as people keep showing up to celebrate people like Donald Trump, holding him up as an example of a good businessman, there will be kids who copy that behavior.
And we will have to deal with the consequences.