Recently bullying has been in the news a lot. After having a daughter who was literally bullied out of school and a friend whose son made national headlines for his cry for help from bullying, I’m sure you can imagine this is a topic that touches my heart with intensity.
When a young, unmarried friend of mine who has no children asked on social media what all the uproar was about, it created a firestorm. Obviously there are some very strong opinions on bullying. This may surprise you, but the opinions vary pretty drastically.
I see both sides of the issue. I believe that our society has ‘politically corrected’ so much in schools, parenting, and the public opinion, that it has tied the hands of anyone trying to deal with a bully. When I was in school and someone was mean to us, I internalized it and moved on. I carried those words, thoughts and actions with me – sometimes for years – but I never expected anyone else to deal with it. The burden was mine and mine alone.
Today, everything is different though. I can hear people scoffing out there, but I’d ask you to give me the benefit of the doubt for just a couple of minutes.
The Internet has changed our culture as a whole. It has created an attitude of entitlement. This isn’t the ‘I deserve things’ idea – it’s more like ‘I can say whatever I want – it’s my right – and there are no consequences.’ The entire sphere of culture has shifted both online and offline with this idea. Anonymous usernames have given everyone the idea that we MUST have their opinion and there is no boundary regarding online or offline. That curtain has dissolved completely until, in every aspect of life, we’re dealing with people who insist on their opinions without listening to others. It’s my theory that this is the reason politics has gotten so hateful and it also encompasses road rage and violent crime. The internet has grown a demanding culture without repercussion. This translates, very specifically, into elementary, middle and high school in such a manner that bullies are more bold, harsh, and critical. My daughter’s bully told her, on a daily basis, that she needed to die to make the world a better place. She would send ‘assassins’ (boys) to chase my daughter on the playground and pretend to murder her to make everyone else’s life better.
More than just attitudes and culter, the introduction of social media in the bullying process has created an entirely new way to bully. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are now platforms where people can share their opinions and thoughts – and because of the aforementioned ‘right’ to do this, it has given kids carte blanche to use social media to bully others.
So? Get your kids off of social media and that will fix the problem…won’t?
It does not matter if your child is present on social media – the bullying will still take place.
Take a second to read that statement again. It’s vital to the understanding of bullying.
It’s like this. Imagine there’s a function at school and your kid doesn’t attend. Yet the other kids who did attend decided to create banners and plaster the school with signs talking about how stupid your child is. When he/she arrives at school the next day, they cannot avoid this. Everyone’s seen them and everyone’s pointing them out. Your child didn’t have to be there – but he or she has still been bullied.
I have seen children have bullying planning sessions online. They set up what they’re going to do to a child the next day. That child has no control over what will happen. And even if they aren’t planning to DO something, the fact that everyone in a small group of people has Facebooked or Tweeted about that child still constitutes bullying.
But what about the schools or the authorities? That post is coming next – so stay tuned!