There is no escaping the current media “darling” for ratings and readership; bullying, real and/or cyber.
I don’t believe there is a single person who has not known a bully, in their lifetime. We have all run into them, whether in the schoolyard, in a public venue or even in the office environment. Now, of course, bullies have an entirely new arena – the internet.
Education may go a long way toward aiding the victims. A life fact is that not everyone is going to think you are the shining jewel of humanity. There will be people who dislike you, that’s just a given. People will dislike you for any number of reasons, usually of the shallow variety but hey…what are you going to do? Hide out in your room? Waste time worrying about someone else’s opinion of you or worse, take your own life because 1 or 2 people out of the 7 billion walking the earth, are morally corrupt and ethically challenged? Think about it a second – a planet with 7 billion people, a good chunk of whom struggle just for a drink of water just to survive and people feel that the simple opinion of some jackass is worth crying over? Skewered priorities by both parties – the bully and the object of the bully attention.
Schools, primarily teachers and administrators have to take a stand. Rules are rules and if the school has an action plan in place, (If they do not, then where, the hell, are the parents and why aren’t they demanding one?) then the plan must be enforced. If cyberbullying is going on, then again – where, the hell, are Mom and Dad? Report the incident to Facebook or MySpace or Twitter, as an added precaution, delete the child’s account. There is no point exposing a child to that kind of garbage. Facebook is a monumental waste of anyone’s time and with all the challenges lying ahead for young people, time is not a luxury they can afford to waste.
Social networking is not a necessity. It is and will always remain, a pastime. If the pastime is having a negative impact then the responsibility of the parent is to remove it.
The pop-psych childrearing theories regarding self-esteem have created a generation or two, of socially immature personalities. Self-esteem above all else so that when faced with failure, when faced with adversity or when faced by a bully, these people collapse into puddles on angst. Children must be taught how to deal with failure, to deal with disappointment and to deal with the slings and arrows life levels at their personalities, at the sense of “self.” Current trends in psychology and the media hunger for headlines seems to demand that everyone be a “victim” rather than show examples of heroism in the face of adversity.
The cold hard truth of life is that not everyone is going to like us; in fact, some may hate us with a passion unbound. They may go out of their way to try to hurt our feelings, to elevate themselves through insults and childish behaviours. When the behaviours become a physical threat or a physical assault, there are avenues to be taken. Parents must take a stand as well and stop being cowed by school administrators, with their patented – “Your child is over-reacting” party line. If a child is worried or outright scared, then this is not an over-reaction. It is a reaction to a threat. The school has a responsibility to follow through on an investigation of the threat and take appropriate measures.
But bullying is also a fact of life; there will always be those whose own self-esteem is so low that they need to victimize others. It is how we deal with them that will truly reflect on who we are. No one can destroy our sense of self-worth without our permission. This is what our children should be taught from the moment they are able to communicate. No one is a victim unless they choose to be.