Thursday, October 21, 2010

Bullying the Bullies.

Bullying. Bullying is big news now. Everyone wants to stop bullying. Everyone is very concerned about bullying. Bullies are evil. Bullying is bad. The victims of bullying are brave people. Bullying should be met with zero tolerance by schools and organizations. No bullying allowed! Get it?

I’ve never been very much of a politically correct mind. Maybe I’m alone in this sentiment, but I’m getting a little tired of all the whining and crying about people being bullied. People have been getting bullied since the dawn of man. The problem today isn’t that bullying is more common, it’s not that there are more bullies or that their methods of bullying are more brutal. The problem is that the bullied are bigger wusses than at any point ever before.

We used to think of being bullied as a right of passage. Stand up to the bully and you learn a valuable lesson about life! Stand up for yourself and learn that respect must be demanded, not hoped and wished for. We don’t see it that way anymore though. Today, we see the bullied as victims. And they are victims, but not simply victims of bullying, but victims of their own spinelessness.

Bullying becomes big news every time some poor kid kills him or herself after being bullied. It’s such a tragedy! Well, yes. It is a tragedy when a kid feels like they have no alternative to killing themselves, but the tragedy isn’t in the fact that the kid was bullied, it’s in the fact that they felt they were helpless to do anything about it.

I’m not making excuses for bullies. I just think that targeting bullies is a stupid way to solve the problem. There will always be bullies. Eliminating bullies is like eliminating lying. It can’t happen. You can all join hand and sing Kumbaya til the cows come home, but there will always be bullies. As long as some kids are bigger than others, as long as some kids are jealous of others, as long as some kids are so desperate to conform that they are willing to ridicule and prey upon those who don’t there will be bullying. There have always been bullies and there will always be bullies.

What’s changed isn’t the bully, it’s the victim.

Think about it. Think about how we raise our children. We don’t keep score at their tee-ball and soccer games. Everybody wins! Everybody gets a trophy! Equal playing time for all! No one ever loses. No one ever learns how to lose. And for that matter, no one gets to learn how to win graciously either. If a child is falling behind in the classroom, the class slows down so that the student doesn’t get left behind.

Excuses are made. Parents appease their children. Now, more than ever before, parents shield, guard and protect their children from the slightest hint of harm, unhappiness or the mere idea that they aren’t as good, as smart, as athletic, as talented, as gifted as the kid next door. Everyone is equal. Of course, that’s not the reality of it. We’re not all equal. Some of us are smarter than others. Some of us are more athletic than others. Some of us are big, some of us are small, some of us are cool, some of us are dorks. We are all different. That’s the thing that makes us special. Parents, though, want their kids to be special just like everyone else’s kids. Every parent wants his or her kid to be the starting quarterback or the homecoming queen.

Every parent wants their kid to be liked, to be popular, to be smart, to get into the best college, to find the perfect boyfriend or girlfriend. Parents have idealized how their kids lives should be. So, is it any wonder that when life doesn’t turn out like the parents expect it to, that the kids feel like they have nowhere to turn?

If little Timmy likes to draw and spends hours drawing the things he imagines in his mind, why don’t we celebrate that? If he grows up to become a well-paid graphic designer it’s certainly okay, but as a child the kid who keeps to himself and draws centaurs is somehow less than what a parent thinks he should be. He should have more friends. He should have a girlfriend. He should play soccer.

If little Susie likes other girls and dreams of a wedding where she is standing next to another woman, we don’t celebrate that. We call it a phase. We know she’ll grow out of it. She’s just rebelling. Even if her parents do “accept” her, very few actually do support her for her for what she is, do they?

No. The problem isn’t the bullies. The problem is the parents. Parents have this idealized vision of what their kids should be. Parents isolate kids from pain and failure and loss because they think a strong ego is what’s necessary to make it in this world. They are wrong. Childhood is difficult. It is the fire in which we are tempered. It is the proving ground where we earn the right to someday be called adults.

The problem isn’t the bullies. The problem is that kids don’t understand how to stand up to them. We live in a world more connected than at any time in our history. If you’re being picked on because you’re a nerd, there are tens of thousands of nerds only a few clicks away. You are not alone. If you are gay and living in small town and feel the full weight of how different you are, you are only a few clicks from being with people just like you who truly understand what you are going through. Strange then, that people feel more alone than they ever have before.

I don’t blame the bullies. I blame the parents of the bullied. I blame the culture in which they raise kids. I blame the parents for not teaching their kids to stand up for themselves. I blame the parents for sheltering their kids from hurt and pain and naively thinking that it’s a good thing. I blame the parents robbing their kids the lessons that are only learned in defeat. I blame the people who try to make everything fair. Life isn’t fair. Why should childhood be? A fair childhood only leads to an unrealistic ability to deal with real life and the completely unfair curves it throws.

We have raised a generation of children who are incapable of coping with unfairness because they never learned to do so as kids because they never had to because mommy and daddy were always there to make sure everything was equal and balanced and fair and right and good. We live in a Capitalist nation where competition is everything and we raise our kids on the concepts of Socialism where everything is balanced and fair and equal and as they leave the nest, is it any wonder why now, more than ever, bullies band together and find strength in their own conformity? Is it any wonder how those don’t conform, whether by their own choice or not, are so lost?

Ironic, isn’t it, that the same parents who so poorly prepared their kids for the realities of the world and how hard life can be, now choose to blame the bullies? Let’s not look inward. Let’s not accept any blame ourselves. It’s the bullies fault. We must band together against them. We are the adults after all! They are just children. We can band together and…bully them into being nice.

Right?

16 comments:

Mo said...

BRAVO!!!!!

Right on! I hope everyone gets a chance to read this. It's getting ridiculous. I suppose it's human nature to a point, laying blame elsewhere but come on! If you were good to your child then they are confident, they have self love and they won't allow themselves to be pushed around. Love this.

Anonymous said...

Spoken like a true bully.

What about the parents whoo teach their kids to get whatever they can, whenever they can? The parents who teach their kids that the rules don't apply to them? What about the ones who teach their kids that might makes right? Or what about the ones who yell and scream at people in their cars, who verbally berate people who don't give them what they feel is their due, and who tell their kids that the bullied are just weaklings, thus implying that they get what they deserve? Sound anything like you? Well yes, except that you aren't a parent so you know, what? Fuckall about parenting, that's what.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you. I was always taught that not everything in life is fair. My parents let me learn my lessons and only shielded me from the really bad things. I got bullied for being over weight but you know what? I am a better person because of it.I learned how to treat people. We are way too easy on kids now and then we wonder why the country has gone to shit.

andria said...

Agreed.

I think it's terrible that kids feel so alone and out of place that they think killing themselves is the only option, but we need to look at more than just the bully. They weren't just born that way. They were made.

Jenna Scancs said...

I agree. However, I think something should also be said that this 'epidemic' is partly due to technology and that the way people bully has changed.

Due to the different technological mediums available and prevalent in teen society (and all society) I believe the way one is bullied has become more public, more common, and in turn, more devastating.

Things suddenly become easier to day, more reckless and less real, with no real consequences, when there is a computer screen separating the bully from his victim.

Jenna Scancs said...

*to do

Sarah Madison Caldwell said...

Albert... I don't usually disagree with you, but this post is a total justification for bullying, whatever else you might have convinced yourself.

As someone who was bullied to the point of complete isolation in middle school, I simply can't agree that it's "just a part of life". When it gets to the degree that I and these kids experienced it, NO it absolutely is NOT! There's no part of this that's "normal" or "run of the mill", and there's no reason these kids should have gone through it.

These kids were bullied for being gay, something they couldn't control any more than they could what color their eyes were. That doesn't bother you? That we live in a society that says, "it's okay to throw things at the fags, 'cause they're queer-ass gay fuckers!"? No. NO, Albert, NO. They should NOT be allowed to get away with it, and you saying "it's just a part of life" is giving the bullies free reign to create more of the Tyler Clementis we've seen in the news.

I agree that bullies will always exist, and that you can't bully a bully out of their behavior, but to say "what-the-fuck-ever, suck it up, fags, you're gonna be bullied!" is horrible, monstrous, and wrong. You are not a horrible, monstrous person, Albert, and it breaks my heart to see you portraying yourself as one, all in the name of keeping up your "don't give a shit" attitude.

Mo said...

Am I just reading this entry wrong? What I'm taking from this is the writer is saying... It's wrong to bully. Sure. But what the hell are you doing and showing your kids that instead of coming to you, instead of fighting back, instead of knowing that this too shall pass, they killed themselves?

Think of racism. It's wrong. Yes. But black people aren't killing themselves if you call them the n word. Because they have been taught to have black pride.

But imagine if their parents made them feel ashamed of being black? I wonder how different things would be?

Love your children. Accept your children. Maybe things wouldn't be this dire.

Again to this entry I say BRAVO!!!!

Sarah Madison Caldwell said...

Mo-- What if the parents aren't to blame? What if the parents love and accept their children, and the kids are STILL bullied because of WHAT OTHER KIDS THINK?

No, the parents canNOT be blamed for every instance of bullying, as you and Albert (who, I am sure, were not bullied anywhere near as badly as these kids were) seem to believe. In fact, most of the time it's the PARENTS of the bullied kids who, while loving and accepting their children, also want them to not have to go to school and be tormented for being short, or wearing glasses, or being gay (and no, I'm sorry, there is a VERY strong sentiment in this entry of "gay kids should expect to be bullied 'cause they're queer" in this entry; all these little "pussies", as Albert calls them, who killed themselves as a result of the bullying they received were gay). The PARENTS are doing all that they can.

Quit blaming the victims. Quit telling the victims that they just need to "toughen up" and keep their fat flopping mouths shut. That's like saying that any woman who marries a man who beats her should just let him beat her, because she's too fucking stupid to have prevented the situation. It's WRONG. It's STUPID. It's UNACCEPTABLE. IT NEEDS TO STOP. The bullies need to be taken to task. Period.

Mo said...

My culture, a big part of who I am is one that has been discriminated against, constantly. Name calling, jokes. All my life I've had to deal with an undercurrent of bullying, of feeling different.

Then 9/11 happened. And it got insane. I overheard coworkers saying "We should just send nukes over there to blow the whole lot of them off the earth." I have been bullied online. I was almost forced off of a favorite journaling website because of it. I have been bullied in person. My cousin was almost killed by beating in NY bceause of it, right in front of me. I have heard people say all arabs deserve to die. That we are all terrorists. There are still comments made in front of me here in the south about 'those people.' Those people are MY people.

Do these things hurt? Yes.

Does it make me want to kill myself? No.

I have pride in who I am. When someone says these things I don't think... "I wish I wasn't an arab. Being an arab is too tough and it's obviously not a good thing to be. I shouldn't be alive."

What I DO think is "These people are insane and ignorant rednecks."

And that's my point.

If I saw my daughter was leaning towards homosexuality, i'd nurture that. I'd behave as if it was the most natural thing in the world and teach her to be confident and love herself for who she is.

You want to get rid of all the bullies. If you could find a way? I'd love you forever. But guess what. It's not going to happen. From David and Goliath to the news we're hearing today. This is life. The big attack the little. The little either fight back or fall.

Fight it. Argue. Say it's wrong. You're right. It is. But you're not going to change it. Your bully free world, that's gorgeous. But it's not going to happen. I wish I was wrong.
Everyone is bullied somehow.

But if I raised my daughter the way I described... if she knew there was nothing wrong with being who she was all she would know the bullies were wrong. Not her.

These kids you're talking about? I don't believe for one second they were secure in themselves for being gay. Our society wouldn't allow that. Maybe if homosexuality was accepted as a natural part of life, maybe if no one made these kids feel wrong, queer, etc... maybe they wouldn't kill themselves.

They'd be hurt, sure. They might be heartbroken. The sad fact is that you can't always protect the world from harsh words and heartbreak.

But you can give your children the tools to deal with this harsh world. And that's what I took from this post.

Mo said...

My culture, a big part of who I am is one that has been discriminated against, constantly. Name calling, jokes. All my life I've had to deal with an undercurrent of bullying, of feeling different.

Then 9/11 happened. And it got insane. I overheard coworkers saying "We should just send nukes over there to blow the whole lot of them off the earth." I have been bullied online. I was almost forced off of a favorite journaling website because of it. I have been bullied in person. My cousin was almost killed by beating in NY bceause of it, right in front of me. I have heard people say all arabs deserve to die. That we are all terrorists. There are still comments made in front of me here in the south about 'those people.' Those people are MY people.

Do these things hurt? Yes.

Does it make me want to kill myself? No.

Mo said...

I have pride in who I am. When someone says these things I don't think... "I wish I wasn't an arab. Being an arab is too tough and it's obviously not a good thing to be. I shouldn't be alive."

What I DO think is "These people are insane and ignorant rednecks."

And that's my point.

If I saw my daughter was leaning towards homosexuality, i'd nurture that. I'd behave as if it was the most natural thing in the world and teach her to be confident and love herself for who she is.

You want to get rid of all the bullies. If you could find a way? I'd love you forever. But guess what. It's not going to happen. From David and Goliath to the news we're hearing today. This is life. The big attack the little. The little either fight back or fall.

Fight it. Argue. Say it's wrong. You're right. It is. But you're not going to change it. Your bully free world, that's gorgeous. But it's not going to happen. I wish I was wrong.
Everyone is bullied somehow.

But if I raised my daughter the way I described... if she knew there was nothing wrong with being who she was all she would know the bullies were wrong. Not her.

These kids you're talking about? I don't believe for one second they were secure in themselves for being gay. Our society wouldn't allow that. Maybe if homosexuality was accepted as a natural part of life, maybe if no one made these kids feel wrong, queer, etc... maybe they wouldn't kill themselves.

They'd be hurt, sure. They might be heartbroken. The sad fact is that you can't always protect the world from harsh words and heartbreak.

But you can give your children the tools to deal with this harsh world. And that's what I took from this post.

Mo said...

I have no idea why it posted like that, sorry.

Albert Riehle said...

Well, it's obvious to see that this blog entry is being taken different ways by different people and that's cool. Frankly, I expected even more people to take it the wrong way and I'm glad a couple of you seemed to "get" what I was after here.

My point, if I had to narrow it down is that bullying hasn't changed one bit. People don't get bullied more often now. Bullying isn't any more extreme. To say so is an insult to those who have been affected by bulling in the past. People killing themselves over being bullied isn't a new wrinkle either. It's been happening for ages.

All of the sudden though, bullying is this HUGE issue. Why? Why is it so much more of a big deal now that it has been in the past? It's because of the way the kids react to it, the way they handle it and that--in my opinion--is because of how they are raised.

If you read between the lines, this isn't about bullying at all, it's about parenting. Did I try to get your goat on the way to my point? You betcha.

Where is this anti-bully movement coming from? Middle class, suburban white folks. If you want to understand TRUE bullying, try going to school in a poor neighborhood. Try going to a school where you face the possibility of getting shot on the way to school. Try living in a place where you feel like you have to join a gang or die.

Strange, that we don't hear about bullying from those schools though. Is it because the parents don't care? No. That's naive and ignorant. It's because dealing with bullies is a something you have to do. Period. Its part of life. There's no "feel sorry for me" sentiment. The parents don't teach their kids that everything should be fair and equal from birth--because it's not. Life is hard. It doesn't wait for adulthood to get hard either.

Bullies will always exist. You either prepare your kids for that or you don't. And if you don't, then don't go blaming the bullies when your kid cracks.

Poetrix said...

Well, I see the bullied as victims of both parental attitude and behaviour, but you cannot deny that bullies are likewise, following parental leads of license or oppression. Children tend to do as they have seen modelled for them: as easy as it is for the gay teen or the WoW nerd to find friends, support, acceptance online, the redneck homophobic or bigotted brat has JUST AS EASY A TIME finding acceptance and an online peer group... actually, probably an easier time, considering, as Jenna Scancs noted that the viciousness of bullying has escalated, because of the lack of accountability online anonymity brings.

So I'm agreeing with some of the meat of your post, but disagreeing with the base concepts that bullying has NOT gotten worse (I contend it has), or that only one party is necessary for a person to be bullied: it takes two to tango, and if the parents of the bullied are at fault, so are the parents of the bullies.

I don't think you can deny that bullies are usually more vicious in crowds...

Anonymous said...

Pancho is chiming in on this one:

First, it is rare occasion that I agree with Albert over there, but I have to on this topic.

When I was in junior high, I was the target for a lot of bullying by the cool kids. There was a lot of verbal and a little bit of physical bullying occurring.

Like Albert mentioned, I woke up one morning and decided enough was enough and that I would have more respect for myself.

I decided to go get my ass beat.

Kids these days are a little too afraid of losing a fight or being in a little pain. I was the same way until I reached that point where I had some time for reflection and decided that it had to end. I took a page from stories that my Father told me as I got older about how he was bullied a lot in school for being Polish... which was very unpopular are some point in Phildelphia.

His stories always ended the same way. He hit the guy. The guy left him alone.

I love people who say "violence solves nothing". Bullllshit, homeslice. It sure as shit solved the bullying problem for me.

I decided to go with the kamikaze approach. I targeted the biggest, meanest bully out of all of them that I had. Ran up on him while he was at his locker.

Yeah, I got pretty fucked up. The dude was unusually large for our grade. I didn't have to hurt him bad...just a little bit.

I just had to show him that I was crazy enough to do something like that. I didn't wound him much physically, but I sure did wound his pride when everyone saw the unpopular dork punching, kicking, and howling like a frothing wolverine.

The bullying stopped from all sources and I was free to go on with life...a little scuffed up, but crazy enough that people were wary of me and stayed out of my way.

If a kid is being bullied enough in school where they're at a breaking point, they have to go old school. I'm talking last resort kind of thing. It is sure better than blowing your brains out or hanging yourself in the closet.