A high school boy lifted up a fellow student half his size and slammed him to the ground. This was a couple of years ago. Surprisingly the aggressor was also a victim. He had put up with bullies for three years and wasn’t about to take it any more. Victims worldwide and their families cheered when they heard about this boy’s reaction. It was a cathartic moment for him and for them. The media interviewed the boy who had ‘snapped’ his victim and the boy who filmed the event. It was the usual seven day wonder, but when the dust settled, nothing else had, nothing had changed.

The hero of the moment will probably get through high school without constant harassment, and his school will probably review its bullying policy but what about current and future victims? Nothing seems to have changed or will change for them. There’s anecdotal evidence that confronting a bully with his or her own medicine usually results in the bully backing down, but nobody with any common sense advocates violence as a way to resolve issues. It can result in tragedy for everybody, but what else is there?

Suspending students doesn’t seem to help; students don’t come back calmed down or contrite, rather the reverse. Mediation hasn’t proved to work and neither does walking away from a bully. However well-meaning schools are their anti-bullying policies are obviously inadequate. Cyber bullying has put things in a whole other realm, it’s all become overwhelming for everyone including teachers who haven’t got enough hours in the day to implement everything that’s asked of them and teach as well. I will say that I’m in favour of zero tolerance when it comes to bullies. Three strikes and you’re out. Find another school.

There’s always been bullying, but since we’ve come to understand it and to try and implement policies to deal with it, bullying has become worse not better. Let’s hand the responsibilities back to parents. If you’re a believer in both nature and nurture as I am, you will realise that the bully has no chance if the person who is a child’s first role model and first authority figure takes on the responsibility. Even nature can be toned down if not defeated, if parents are supportive of their children and raise them to respect themselves and others. Bullies aren’t born, I think it’s circumstances and society’s willingness to shrug its collective shoulders and say, ‘What can we do? It’s all too hard’ that creates them.

3 thoughts on “Bullying

  1. Mary, this is a subject which I think many can relate to. Those who have been bullied and for those, like myself, which have witnessed it first hand. It’s been quite a few years since I have been in school, but even back then I remember well two different students that were picked on severely. At least it wasn’t to some of the degrees we are seeing today, in some cases where they end up taking their own life. I am outraged and heart-broken when I see these cases on T.V. or read about them in newspapers. I, too, think that it starts at home in two respects. One, in the upbringing of the child and the other, when a parent is notified by a school that their child is doing the bullying – to handle the problem right away. I am amazed at the parents today who will side with their child -even when the child is in the wrong, as opposed to the teacher or school. When I was in school, my parents took the school and/or the teachers word and we faced the fiddle both at school and then again at home! I concur with you……Bullies aren’t born. I enjoyed your article thoroughly!

    • Thanks so much, Laura, it’s the worst thing ever for a bullied child not to have his/ hjer parent’s support. A child needs his parents to believe in him.
      I know it’s going to sound politically incorrect, but I think at least one parent (mum or dad) should be home to offer milk and biscuits (cookies) and ask, ‘how was your day.’ At least for the first few vital years. I think that’s the time to impress vulnerable children about right and wrong.

      • Mary,
        I couldn’t agree with you more! I think those initial formative years are extremely important. Keep up the great writing!

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