[Warning] This is going to be about a hot topic (maybe) and it may piss some people off.
On the subject of bullying.
I was on Reddit (r/science) and was reading a post about a new anti-bullying program called KiVa that was apparently working very successfully in Finland. While reading it however, I started thinking about stories that I have heard among the child-having friends that I have regarding bullying. Some of the stories were horrific and some were just plain fucking stupid. I started to recall the posts and articles that I had read about bullying over the past year or so and again, some where terrible and some where just fucking stupid. So, I had adopted the position that bullying had become a buzz-word for any type of aggressive or negative action taken; however as I read this sub-reddit post more I started thinking that maybe we just don’t know what bullying is, so everything is bullying.
Now, since I don’t have kids and haven’t been sent 45 tons of anti-bullying literature home from their school; I had to do this the hard way. I had to use Google.
I simply searched “what isn’t bullying”.
One of the first sites I came across was pretty informative. It gave the “standards” of what bullying IS. It also goes into how kids ( and some adults) do not know the difference between an accidental incident, a singular aggressive occurrence, and actual bullying. Instead, kids (and some adults) lump all of these things into the bullying category, because they simply don’t know the difference. The site gives this as a definition of bullying:
“bullying is recurring and deliberate abuse of power”
The two words there that I would suggest that you focus on are recurring and deliberate. Accidentally bumping into someone, not liking someone’s shirt or not inviting someone to your birthday party are not forms of bullying. They are accidents, opinions, and prerogatives. The site also gives a frame work of what bullying entails:
Intentional, Repetitive, Hurtful, Imbalance of Power
Now, to me, this is a little broad. I get repetitive and the imbalance of power. If it’s repetitive; then it’s intentional. So, that’s a little redundant and of course it’s going to be hurtful; it’s fucking bullying. So, I looked into the other sites and found that the US Government has actually defined bullying and its basically what I just said: An Imbalance of Power and Repetitive.
Now this is where I get confused. We have a definition of bullying. Then why are some schools, students, teachers, parents, and even grown adults confused about what bullying is or how it occurrs? Yes, the media has hyped the subject and created a lot of this; however it still confuses me. What really confuses me is how this still happens and why people are still amazed by it.
For example, while some bullying is physical and easy to recognize, bullying can also occur quietly and covertly, through gossip or on a smart phone or the internet, causing emotional damage.
This is the one form of bullying (Cyber Bullying) that I hold a great disdain for. Parents hand their kids these pieces of technology. Smartphones, tablets, and laptops that connect to the internet. Let me explain something to you, and why this is a fucking horrible thing to do to your children.
Internet (noun): The global communication network that allows almost all computers worldwide to connect and exchange information.
World Wide Web (noun):
OK, so you basically just handed little Bobby or Little Jenny a portal to any where and anyone on the entire planet. They can talk to anyone, or do anything on the Internet right along with the 3.17 billion other internet users. Do you trust the 3.17 billion other people on this planet with your kids? (Honestly, I believe that tablets, smartphones and laptops are like cars: when the kid is 16 they can have one if they are responsible enough to have one and there’s going to be some ground rules about it’s ownership) Now, I am sure that there are some parents that are IT professionals and have black listed URLs , have child monitoring software installed, have disabled the WiFi on the kids tablet, have disabled the cameras on everything and have taken every precaution to make sure their child is absolutely safe online. Good for you. However, the other 75 – 80% of the parents (even the ones that are “tech savvy”) probably haven’t (It’s more than blocking the porn sites, people). Also, it’s not only parents that don’t truly understand how the Internet works. Kids don’t understand it either, even though you think that they do. They think that the internet is just Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter and Minecraft. They do not contemplate that if they post something online, it can be seen by
thousands millions BILLIONS of people and they can re-post, share and also leave negative comments on it. Be it a Facebook post or a YouTube video, it’s all fair game and it’s all out there for the masses. That tweet you thought only went to your followers (all 583 of them) or the post on your friends wall that you thought only they would see? Nope, it was seen by everyone and if they didn’t like what you posted/tweeted; that turns into a shit-storm of negativity that is repetitive, and there is definitely and imbalance of power (since it’s the world vs. one person) and can easily turn into a case of cyber bullying that was completely unintentional. The other problem is, you can’t trace all the attackers, they are faceless (usually) and it’s an ongoing assault that occurs 24/7. So, now there is a broken hearted kid somewhere that is deep into depression because the comments keep coming and coming and they are never going to stop. So, in my opinion, you have to educate your kids on how the Internet works. You have to educate them on how to deal with cyber-bullies and trolls. You have to be smarter than them about the technology you just gave them, which means you have to be educated about how it and the Internet works. Out of all of the bullying stories that I hear, these piss me off the most because the outcome usually could have been prevented with a little time & education. It’s that simple.
OK, so now we understand what bullying is (and I went on a light tirade about cyber bullying) what ISN’T bullying? I figured I got a great definition of what bullying is by searching for “what isn’t bullying” so I applied the same principle but in reverse.
I came across a site that pretty much took us back to the idea that we don’t know what bullying is. It’s like this site knows what it is, but isn’t quite sure.
It is intentional… but there is some controversy with this statement as some assert that not all bullying behavior is done with intent or that the individual bullying realizes that their behavior is hurting another individual.
So, subconscious bullying? A bully sleeper agent? Or does this go back to the idea of any negative action is bullying and, with this statement, the person that is offending with the negative action just needs to be taught that negative actions are bad because that’s bullying. There was also this bit about the repetitive part of the bully frame work.
… the reality is that bullying can be circumstantial or chronic. It might be the result of a single situation…or it might be behavior that has been directed at the individual for a long period of time.
A single situation? So, if there is a one time occurrence of a negative action we are saying that is bullying? Now, we are getting into the area of “too much”. Simply because, if a child expresses a negative action (physical, verbal, or emotional) at another child one time and then never expresses anything to that child again, then it’s not bullying. If a child slips and falls face first into his lunch tray and the class laughs at him, but treats him no differently the next day, this is not bullying. If a kid expresses a negative opinion about something that another child holds dear while having a conversation, this is not bullying. If anything this way of thinking is bullying. Its repetitive (constantly trying to enforce a illogical way of thought every time the subject comes up) and it’s an imbalance of power (adults vs. kids). It reminds me of indoctrination.
Students often describe bullying as when “someone makes you feel less about who you are as a person.”
I read this as “If your feelings were hurt, then you were bullied” and that to me is completely wrong. If a child is playing with a toy plane, and another child wants to play with the toy plane; then when the kid with the plane tells the other kid “no” is he a bully for not handing over his toy plane to the other kid? This to me leads to a if I don’t get my way, then I was bullied way of thinking and that isn’t a good mentality to have or promote. I would think negative re-enforcement for having an opinion, choosing who to invite to a party, setting a boundry, or expressing an emotion would make me feel less about who I am as a person or like I was living in Orwell’s 1984. Again, this just feels like indoctrination to me.
(Source on all above quotes: http://www.pacer.org/bullying/resources/info-facts.asp)
So, again, we have a definition of bullying. Matter of fact, the father of anti-bullying programs, Dan Orweus, even defined bullying for us:
“A person is bullied when he or she is exposed, repeatedly and over time, to negative actions on the part of one or more other persons, and he or she has difficulty defending himself or herself.”
However, schools and school administrators apparently don’t know really what it is, plus students apparently don’t really know what it is. A study in Tennessee schools between 2012-2013 was done to see how many of the reported cases of bullying were actually bullying. 27% (actually 27.5%, apparently they rounded down vs rounding up to 28%) of the cases were not bullying.
…it shows that 27% of reported cases were found not to be real examples of bullying …we have not defined bullying in the best way for our young children to understand?
Now, here’s the thing. In the maybe one hour of research that I did, I now know what bullying is. If you read this, you should now know what bullying is. So, if it doesn’t really take that much time and effort to define and understand what bullying is; then why can’t schools do it? Why can’t parents do it? Why can we not teach kids what it is? I think if parents would teach kids when they are being bullied, if parents could identify the behavior of a bully in their child or another child, and if parents took better precautions with technology and the internet; then there wouldn’t be a need for campaigns, legislation, and this post.
It just takes time and effort.