Well-meaning parents often go on needless crusades.
We’re seeing that now with all the handwringing over bullying in school. It’s become the cause of the day among some parent and educator groups.
Oh, great, the government has now gotten involved in the national bullying crisis.
“Bullying is a widespread and serious problem that can happen anywhere,” according to stopbullying.gov. “People who bully use their power to control or harm, and the people being bullied may have a hard time defending themselves.”
Excuse me, but have kids suddenly gotten meaner toward one another? I doubt it.
Schools have always had cliques. Schools have always had cool kids and geeks. Peer pressure is an inevitable, often unpleasant part of growing up. You can’t stomp out bullying with a high-dollar publicity campaign.
Of course, there are extreme cases of bullying that involve violence. They should be addressed immediately and the perpetrators punished harshly. I know some kids have committed suicide allegedly because they were bullied. I doubt the reason is ever that cut-and-dried.
Here’s the problem: A few tragic, high-profile incidents of extreme bullying have captured the attention of parents and educators, and they’ve overreacted.
Hence, we have government-funded websites that offer common-sense definitions of bullying and simplistic solutions.
Many problems are greater than bullying
I’d rather see government officials, educators, and parents focus on critical issues that affect many more kids than bullying:
- Teen pregnancy
- Drug and alcohol use
- Uninvolved parents
- Drunk driving
- Learning disabilities
- Teacher training
- Test-taking skills
I can name another two dozen or so issues that are far more worthy of attention than bullying.
Why is bullying so overblown? Because parents don’t want little Johnny teased at school. Sorry, it’s going to happen sometime during the 12 years of primary education.
I recently saw an article on askmen.com titled “Thank God I Was Bullied.” It made me shout “amen!”
“Not everyone gets to be a popular kid,” writes Ian Lang. “I was occasionally teased, chastised and made fun of. In short, I was bullied … One ‘benefit’ (if you want to call it that) of being bullied is that you learn to adapt and present yourself in a way that endears you to others because, like it or not, some people will never accept you for who you are.”
Give that man a medal.
As a society, we need to identify problems facing kids that are widespread and can be corrected. Bullying is neither.
Hell, I’m more worried about students bullying teachers than bullying each other. The classroom can be a war zone these days with disrespectful, unmotivated, even violent kids.
Let’s start a national movement to teach kids to be nicer to teachers. I’ll join that crusade.
Severe bullying does happen, but it’s rare. Let’s keep it in perspective. Some kids are always going to be mean to others. Learning to deal with teasing and rejection in school can prepare you for difficult situations in later life.