Sunday, April 18, 2010

Thought of the Day 2010 #96 - Bullying Part 2

I think bullying is wrong. Clearly, the bullies are kids that are attempting to bring other kids down to their level. The have crappy self esteem and they're attempting to feel better by pointing out other's faults.

Do I think tht bullying is SOOOO wrong that it's criminal? Nope. That is unless it's physical violence. But, physical violence is covered under other laws, so really, anti-bullying laws are primarily covering verbal assaults.

I strongly believe in the "sticks and stones may break my bones, but words cannot hurt me". Sure, words CAN hurt, and they do, but to kids who have decent self esteem, other's negativity won't have much of an impact. Kids with a healthy dose of self esteem will more easily deflect a negative attack.

The coverage of the girl who committed suicide after being bullied is tragic. But are the bullies really to blame for the suicide? Bullies can cause foul moods, they can make you sad, they can make you think life is worthless, but in order to actually commit suicide, I suspect the poor girl had other issues going on. Maybe she didn't have a strong support system at home or she may have been suffering from a chemical imbalance, etc.

I don't want to "blame the victim", but in the case of suicide, it's hard to exclude the obvious -- that the victim IS to blame for her ultimate demise. The bullying was a negative which combined with other situational factors which encouraged suicide. Because the bullying is somewhat tangental to the actual suicide, I don't think that it's a criminally prosecutable situation.

Finally, I would encourage parents to work on establishing healthy self esteem for their kids to make them bully-proof.

--Help them to recognize their strengths.
--Give them a solid home life to provide a "safe zone" away from the negativity of the world.
--Teach them to understand why bullies say what they do - instill a belief that the bully is pained and just lashing out. It provides a empathetic response rather than allowing the attack to reflect inwardly upon the child.

Providing a wholly defensive strategy for the kids will minimize the bully's effect in childhood and going forward in life -- 'cuz you know there are bullies LONG after leaving school.