With all the uptake in the news of bullying and how we can rid school children of this behavior, I got to wondering if it ever truly goes away. Does the ‘meanie’ disappear? Bullying involves many things: ridicule, physical assault, ostracization, etc… I have no idea how mandating a ‘no tolerance’ policy will really turn out, OR, is it really possible, considering the mere act of being a child invokes this behavior. Unfortunately, it is more of a rite of passage. ALL of us know what our own experience was like; it is part of growing up. The cliche’ ‘kids will be kids’ fits this. NO ONE is/was immune.
I think the whole concept of bullying just takes on a different form and definitely through different forums. In our daily lives, it doesn’t seem as apparent. The playground behaviour evolves from ridiculing someone’s clothes or friend associations to arguing against grown-up ideas, concepts, and lifestyle choices. It isn’t as blatant or obvious as the kids saying, ‘go away, i don’t want to play with you, i don’t like you or the way you dress’; but at the same time, it is just the same and more pervasive, because everyone is on the internet in some form or another. We comment and ridicule through facebook, we comment and complain to companies through their social media if they show one mis-step of imperfection. People throw hate through the comments section of every newspaper or political blog every single day, all over the world. People who watch reality tv know that the immaturity of the playground still exist in a lot of grown-ups. The screaming and fighting in bar brawls, over sports games, or over lovers…as adults we call it crime. Bullying doesn’t stop. It just evolves into something worse quite frankly. Unlike a child, we can decide to rarely or never participate in it, or at least try to not perpetuate it. No kid wants to be ostracized; similarly, no adult in a business meeting wants to be told his ideas are trivial or juvenile. We learn as adults better decorum and how to constructively communicate without hurting another’s feelings. We have the advantage of maturity and understanding of empathy. We also learn more compassion, and the benefit of being able to see in the future the consequences of our actions.
Every parent would like to think that their children will get along and play well on the school yard. Teaching children compassion is really the only step to alleviating this issue. Mandates will be hard to impose when bullying takes preventative maintenance. The world of a child is so small that EVERY thing that is said to them, of them or about them is the BIGGEST deal in the world and their entire world can appear to have fallen apart. This is sad. And as any parent will attest, it breaks your heart and you want to do everything you can to shield them from this pain. All we can do is teach them to be kind and sympathetic, and hopefully understand compassion. But these things come with maturity and understanding. As adults we know when we put ourselves out there, anybody can say anything. One of the best things about growing up is feeling more confident about who you are, and having a larger perspective of the world. Unless a senseless crime is committed against us, we have our integrity that shields us from the effect of outside opinion. We have the depth of our character that encourages our individualism. So suck it, meanie!