Wednesday, August 8, 2012
Bully Scapegoating Syndrome
Not to short change you, and leave this page with only a paragraph, I would like to take a moment and discuss why scapegoating bullies is such a huge mistake in our culture.
1. The Constant Victim. As Izzy Kalman put it in previous articles I shared on this blog, anytime a person does something to us that we dislike, the behavior is labled bullying. The word itself has such a nasty reputation and a lot of emotion tied to it. The word BULLY is explosive and most of us cringe when we hear it or see it. So anytime someone does something to us that we don't like, we call them a bully and this automatically makes them wrong. This means that anytime someone does something to us that we don't like, we are automatically right - and ergo, anytime someone behaves towards us in a way that we dislike, we are a victim of bullying. We've done nothing wrong and are simply a victim of a mean nasty bully.
One of the things I wish to do with this discussion on bullying is to take the sting out of the word. By recognizing that we are all bullies and the bullying is a very blanket term, we don't HAVE to feel picked on and victimized everytime someone isn't nice to us.
2. Bandaid Complex. One of the things our culture is famous for is our bandaid solutions to bigger problems. Just because bullying behavior is inherent in all of us as a desire to control our surroundings and those within it - does NOT mean that cruelty is. There is a difference between a pushy person with good intentions and a person who (probably a swell individual) purposely inflicting pain onto another. One of the things that astounded me once it dawned on me was this: I had always considered those who bullied me as being inherently mean spirited kids with little to no emotion. How can they have a heart if they can be so mean? And then it occurred to me that no one else thought this about them, except me. They had a lot of friends and they were well liked. They had great relationships with their parents, teachers and other kids our age. How could that possibly be true?
The answer was that they weren't inherently mean spirited OR devoid of emotion. They were regular kids. The fact is, most bullies are quite nice people, but select one or two peers to take their aggression out on. And if a kid is behaving aggressively, even if it's only to one or two individuals, that should be a huge red flag that the child is having emotional problems and not really coping as well as their parents, teachers and freinds are assuming. By punishing bully behavior, you're slapping a bandaid on a festering wound. The kid who is being bullied needs help, of course, but the one who IS the bully needs it too.
3. Not MY Kid! Lastly, one of the biggest issues I find when trying to resolve bullying issues between children is the parents unwillingness to see their child as that aggressive person. Most parents can remember how much they hated their bullies in school, and when you even mention the word in the proximity of their childs name, they don't want to hear it. They refuse to entertain the notion. They may yell or get angry at the person who made the assertion, storm off with their child and then no one gets the help they are needing.
While this country remains on a mission to stamp out bullying once and for all and make those bullies pay, come hell or high-water, we ignore the fact that one child bullying another is a good sign that the child is in obvious pain. When we adults show aggression towards another, the first thing we often do is try to get that adult help to cope with their anger. Why is this mentality not being applied to our children?
Do you feel there is a way to diminish the negativity surrounding the word bully? Do you think that we should?