Stress and happiness inextricably intertwined. Joy in hugging, reconnecting, sharing. Views so alien that one must ponder the possibility of changeling status.
You think adults can prevent student bullying? Seriously? The answer is ‘no.’ They never could, and never will be able to do so. They are not members of youth culture, by definition, and barring 24/7 monitoring, they cannot possibly spot all the social maneuvering within that culture. Set aside for the moment that most adults watch the wrong children for signs of bully behavior. Set aside the sad reality that our adult culture models bullying as a strength and promotes its continuance. Set aside the way authorities encourage inflated self-esteem and train for risk-aversive submissiveness. Set aside all those things and one point still remains: no system can be successfully policed from the outside.
Children can be beaten while only yards away from alert, caring, sympathetic adults who would intervene if they knew. The whole point of bullying, the whole focus is subversion of power.
Yes, teachers see bullying and good teachers deliver life lessons on those occasions, but they might see perhaps 15% of what actually goes on, and then only the most overt forms. They cannot stop whispers, elbows, stares. They cannot prevent snickers, cold shoulders, sly smiles. They cannot and should not be expected to affect social interactions outside the classroom or the school. These are the damages that build up slowly, like scar tissue on the ego lacerated again and again.
The quiet one. The odd one. The smart one. They get bullied.
The sweet one. The funny one. The sports star. The queen bee. They get bullied too.
Some of them are the bullies. Many are both abusers and abused.
Everyone gets bullied at some point. Some get bullied at every turn. A few get strong and bully back, a a lot bide their time and change cultures until they find one where they fit in without a fight for dominance. A few get bullied to death. A very few lash out.
We have a worse bullying problem now than at any time in the recent past for many reasons, but focusing on specifics misses the point; despite all that adults say or do, children will bully each other. Give children powerful social weapons with which to hurt each other, steep them in a culture that values the individual at the expense of the whole and glorifies an ideal of power free of obligation , and what do you get? Bullying. Suicide. Homicide.
Do as I say, not as I do.
Yeah. That always works.
Teach courtesy. Teach respect for difference. Offer lifelines and adult support. Most importantly, recognize that all those things have a minimal effect; the visceral human impulse to build up strength by attacking someone weaker cannot be erased by force of will. It can only be rendered less powerful by establishing a culture of intolerance for violence of word as well as deed, and yes, by maintaining vigilance, not by modeling violence and stamping down hard on every rare incident seen, but with a strategy that smothers perpetrators in disappointment. Bullying cannot be tolerated, but presentation counts: ‘more in sorrow than anger’ is the successful tactic.
That’s my 2.79 cents on the issue.
And in other news, only 9049 steps yesterday. No wonder I’m cranky.