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.