Thursday, September 30, 2010

Brody's Scribbles... Is It As Simple As Being A Matter Of Scale?

By Tim Trent (Dartmouth, England) SEPT 30 | It seems like every other day my news feeds tell me of another young, always young, US teenager has killed himself because of bullying. The bullying is almost always verbal, sometimes physical, and leaves them in despair. They have to go to school, and the schools seem incapable of understanding that there is a problem.
I'm not just accusing the USA. All countries and all schools have bullies. All countries have bullies. Look at the Kennedys in the USA, Putin in Russia, Mao and his successors in China. My son's first UK school had a bullying culture handed down by the headmaster, a man who rewarded all the bullies with treats while declaring "We don't have bullies in my school!"
But school bullying was never a team affair. It was single solo schoolyard barons imposing their authority on their small and pathetic fiefdom. Or it is murderous schoolyard psychopaths using food allergies to attack? Yes, you got that. Food allergies.
Today that seems to have changed. Kids get taunted, even hit, and others take videos on camera phones and pass them round and gloat. And the team sport becomes cyberbullying as well. And the weakness of choice today, top of the list along with race, is perceived sexuality.
Whether a kid, almost always a boy, is gay or not, if he's gentle, perhaps if he is simply good looking, he gets taunted.
And so another lad dies in the USA. A week or two ago it was Billy Lucas, this time it's Asher Brown. Billy probably wasn't gay, but they decided he was and taunted him to death. Asher was, and his folks were fine with it, but he shot himself.
And, in neither case, does the school come out of it well.
I've spoken to friends in the USA and worldwide. The gay witch-hunt is not a feature except in the USA, but the cameraphone bullying, the team bullying, that has become widespread. So I want to know why parents do nothing and why schools seem powerless to act. Or are the schools unwilling to act, or in denial?
It cannot just be that the USA is so large, can it, that kids get hounded to death? It has to be cultural, too.
What happened to 'Bring me your poor...'?
I'm not here to show you which agencies to go to in which countries. Everyone's bright enough to do that. What I am here to do is to try to make you think.
A child must attend school. And that is where the bullies are. Are you a teacher? A parent? A governor? A pupil?
What will you do about it?
Or will you sit back and say that bullying is inevitable and kids will just have to get over it?


Trab said...

To make things even worse, they decided that people with handicaps should be 'mainstreamed' so that they would grow up to be part of general society and not segregated as 'different', but then they fail to provide protections for those same handicapped students.

Effectively it is like housing the chickens and the foxes in the same kennel at the zoo; moronic at best.

I belong to a significant subset of humanity which is bullied a lot. Over 50% of us are bullied from 6 years of age onward, as soon as we enter school. We try to keep away from others, as we really don't like other people, but we are hounded anyway. Our primary handicap is extreme social disfunction, so we can't even speak effectively to complain about things. I'm talking about people on the autistic spectrum. Being awkward socially is impossible to hide; there is NO closet.

When you really look at it you will see that the bullying is almost universally done to elevate the bully at the expense of someone (or everyone) else. It is the culture of "might makes right" and "the strongest is most respected" that causes much of this. Being a good team player is given lip service, within the team, but the teams themselves act as bully units, trying to knock down others. There is not enough 'good will towards others' these days, as you can tell by other sick things, like attacking handicapped people 'for fun', attacking seniors, and terrorising neighborhoods with bravado, abusive talk, and threatening gestures.

How do you get it back? Frankly, the only evidence I've seen of even remotely returning to the mentality of helping others is in the immediacy of a natural disaster, and even then it was only marginal in nature. Katrina was a good example, with lots of people coming together to help, whilst others used the opportunity to loot or profit to excess. What we probably need is more reliance on working with others on a regular basis. We are probably victims to too much being available without any need to join with others to get it.

This same mentality is why service oriented clubs are dying. Their membership is shrinking dramatically, and everyone loses. As long as working with someone else to get something done is considered weakness, and individual achievement is considered to be the ultimate goal, then the climbing and stomping on others will continue.