5.24.2006

On bullying

Here is a great post by OrthoMom about bullying in day schools (applies to all schools). [Thanks to SSC for directing me to it.] Some of the comments were heart-breaking tales of adults who had been mercilessly bullied as children, some were from commenters who "got it" and were totally great, and some were unbelievable in the "ohmigod I can't believe anyone actually thinks that!" sort of way.

Read the post, and then check out the selection of comments below:
Anonymous said...
I threw like a girl. I was a failure in high school. Had to attend summer school every year and took Earth Science because I couldn't pass the bio regents. Now my classmates send me their rent checks monthly. what a bunch of asshles.
3:42 PM

With a slightly more positive spin (and one that I relate to better personally), this one was good, too:
Fox said...
With regard to those who point out that adult life also brings us people who are "bullies": YES! And that's precisely the problem.I was fortunate to grow up in a relatively small community, and people who were consistently unkind and obnoxious soon found themselves ostracized to greater or lesser degrees. Now I'm not claiming it was perfect, but there was a consequence for being a jerk.
While I've tried to find a similar community in which to raise my children, it's getting harder and harder. As long as we condone arrogance and bullying behavior by adults -- especially in our leaders -- we don't have a chance of changing children's behavior.
I don't go around like the "niceness police", but I do make it a point to support people and institutions that value kindness to others. I only shop where I am treated nicely, and I don't eat in homes where a well-known hechsher is served with a dose of unkindness. My husband, by the way, thinks I'm crazy. But why would I trust the kashrus of people to whom human dignity means so little?
4:02 PM
I agree. I don't give my business to, nor do I socialize with, people who aren't nice on a very basic human level, not just to their friends or their social clique.

This was my LEAST favorite comment, except for the humor value:
Anonymous said...

> “That is an unacceptable answer. Little bullies turn into big bullies. Especially in Yeshivas,
> where the emphasis should be on Middot Tovot, there should most certainly be a "zero
> tolerance" policy towards bullying.”
Rather naïve and presumptuous of you to think to think some policy idea can rid the world of bullies. Children and adults bully for a variety of reasons. There will always be bullies and there is nothing anyone can do to prevent this. If you want to try and minimize bullying in a school that’s fine and all but lets not pretend that this will reduce the number of people who turn into “big bullies”. No one views themselves as a bully, yet most of us are to some extent.
Bottom line, youre treating bullying far worse than it really is. You really DO need to get some prospective. Boys will be boys and girls will be girls. You shouldn’t try to socially engineer some kind of defenseless sissies who cant solve problems on their own.
I don’t know what kind of overprivileged life you and your kids have for you to think this is a big problem, but I should introduce you to people with real problems.
5:25 PM

With all due respect to this anonymous poster (that is, very little), I don't think that most of us are bullies "to some extent." The breadth in comments on the post was interesting, and I can't help but wonder if those who think OrthoMom is making "a big deal out of nothing" were mostly bullies as children, and if those who support her were mostly bullied as children. It seems clear that nobody who was actually bullied thinks that it's not a big deal!

My take on the issues:

I think that girls use cliques to bully in the same way that boys often use sports to bully.

I agree that there is a difference between teasing and bullying, but am not sure one hurts the victim in a different way than the other. Teasing and bullying are both wrong and I think that the difference may be more a matter of degree, persistence, or how many people are ganging up on the victim than any categorical distinction.

I think that it is the job of parents, teachers, administrators, and community leaders to teach right from wrong. Doing anything less than that is abdicating responsibility for moral education, and once you've done that, you're basically letting TV and popular media educate your kids. God knows we don't like the results of that!

I doubt there is any way to eradicate bullying entirely, so anyone who is worried about what a world without bullying would look like need not fear.

So what's the point if it's going to persist anyway? As the subject of much teasing and some bullying as a child, I feel that a strong "this is wrong and won't be tolerated" message from figures of authority would go a long way towards making victim's lives more bearable.

I agree with the last commenter that schoolchildren bullying one another is not the biggest problem in today's world, but sometimes you gotta' start with the problems that you can actually fix, in your own community, before trying to create world peace or eradicate poverty or halt the spread of AIDS in Africa. Also, I'm pretty sure that bullies who continue on their bullying paths through adulthood create some pretty nasty problems on an international level.

3 comments:

Avi said...

Boys bully. It's what they do. It's true today, it was true 50 years ago, and it was probably true 5000 years ago.

ALG said...

Oh, I agree 100%. But is it okay that they bully?

Human beings also murder, cheat, steal, and rape. They do it today, they did it 50 years ago, and they most certainly did it 5000 years ago. But that does not make it okay. We have laws and religion and parents to teach us that these things, while possibly "natural," are not okay.

Thats really all Im trying to say here--just because it happens all the time, to everyone, doesnt make it okay. (Sorry, my apostrophe isnt working. Arg!)

General Anna said...

I judge people's character based on how they treat those people with less power than them. (Treating people with equal or more power well is just self-interest.) Bullying-- taking advantage of your own superiority in power, status, or strength for your own personal benefit-- is the quintessence of immorality. 'Nuff said.