Who hasn’t seen an extreme case of bullying and the devastating results that are often highly publicized with a massive outcry of rage from the public? It’s everywhere.
Bullies have been around since the beginning of man. Child bullies are no secret, hell even back in the day the popular opinion was that it was necessary for children to establish a pecking order. That’s right, the same actions that would get an adult arrested were deemed healthy and necessary for children.
Now people are launching a full out war against bullying and are taking the most typical lazy American route as an attempt to staunch an ever growing problem: Making it illegal to do. Oh no, that will stop children from bullying because all kids are born with an inherit understanding that their actions dictate consequences. Oh no wait, don’t we spend 18 years trying to teach children that before unleashing them on the world?
So some people have sat back, satisfied in the knowledge that children will be arrested for crimes they don’t even have the psychological capacity to fully understand. As long as someone is punished, justice has been served.
Punishment is a big aspect of our American social scale and it shouldn’t come as a surprise that many private organizations have a special interest in keeping our jails full. For them, this is a win/win situation, it doesn’t stop something from happening, and it just makes it a crime.
What are we as a society lacking? America keeps fighting battles from one angle alone. Let’s punish the bullies and ignore the victims. It is absolutely heartbreaking when a child decides to take his or her own life because of bullying and what’s even worse for me is: No one sees it coming.
No this isn’t a critical bashing of parents for not psychically knowing when their children are upset, this is a broad accusation of our cold and uncommunicative society. The first and really last introduction to socializing for children is kindergarten, where they are taught to play nicely together. From there we put so much emphasis on books, grades, math, and writing cursive that no one even considers that social interaction and psychology might be even more important.
Children are regularly sent to heavily condensed areas of population called schools and are thrust into social situations they haven’t even prepared for. As adults, we are already so used to social interaction we barely consider that children are struggling to comprehend it. Instead of guiding and teaching, we push them through it because homework is more important.
When bullying occurs, it is usually met with a “No, stop it.” response and left at that. Anyone who has raised a child should know the basic problem here: You don’t just tell a child to not touch a stove, you tell them not to touch it because it will burn them. Teachers are not psychiatrists, they can’t be expected to schedule children for counseling sessions so they can explain the intricate workings of the human mind and social interaction. The concepts of why or why not are often left in the dust.
How many times have you told a child “Use your words.”? It’s not just a request that they stop speaking in gibberish; it’s a request for them to gather their thoughts and feelings and communicate with us on an equal level. It seems like once a child grasps the language they are expected to speak, we forget what communication is. They know how to ask for things, they know to report a boo-boo, but why do we stop teaching them to examine their own emotions and communicate it to us?
It seems like children to reach a certain age and find themselves alone with the assurance that if they even want to talk, we’re here for them… Yet American society doesn’t seem to remember that we just barely scratched the surface of teaching children how to communicate their feelings. Now they are expected to not only self reflect and figure out what’s bothering them, they’re supposed to translate it into words and initiate a very vulnerable and sometimes embarrassing conversation? I don’t think so.
This is the equivalent of showing an inexperienced teenager how to start a car and then leaving them without any further directions, but telling them that if they need help figuring out how to drive, they can drive to your house and you’ll answer their questions.
I think everyone is getting the basic idea of what I’m saying here. American society has turned communication into a one way road and expects the victims to just come forward, yet we tend to view being a victim of something as being humiliating. How many child molestation charges come as a complete shock and how many children come forward to report the abuse they faced only after someone ELSE does first?
My point is that fighting bullying and abuse needs to be done from more than one angle. We cannot seek greater and greater punishment for crimes being committed while we ignore those who are victims of abuse and leave others ill equipped to both understand what is happening to them and how to communicate to those they can trust.
Propose two new mentalities: It is NOT okay to bully and it is OKAY to ask for help.