Someone pointed out this morning that October is National Bullying Prevention Month and I have a few thoughts on the subject...
(Run now or don't say I didn't warn you.)
First off, let's get one thing straight. If you don't give a flying fuck what other people think of you, they can't bully you. (Unless they're physically assaulting you*)
Secondly, if this culture wasn't so damn set on forcing everyone to like everyone else, then our children could actually stop giving a flying fuck what these bullies said to them. They wouldn't kill themselves over things these assholes were saying to them on Twitter and FB and other social media sites because they wouldn't care. They'd be all like "Oh look, John said I was fat. Well, he's kind of an ass, so his opinions don't matter. Poor sad little John. ROFL"
We really put too much stock in the thoughts of others if their thoughts are driving our children to kill themselves.
And we all worry so much about what other people think, might think or that we think they think that we warp ourselves to some vague image of what we hope they'll like. It's all bullshit.
I got bullied. Hell, I suspect most people have been bullied at some point - except for the bullies themselves (and even then, I'm guessing they got bullied somewhere along the way). But I didn't consider killing myself over it. Looking back, those times when I was on the edge contemplating a swift end to it all, it didn't have a damn thing to do with what some fucktard said about me. Mostly what I was thinking about after being bullied was revenge. Cathartic thoughts of pushing Diane and Rachel in front of a school bus. Not real thoughts of taking a semi-automatic and wiping out half the damn school.
Seriously, that's just stupid. That's like saying 'these assholes are ruining my life, so I'll teach them by REALLY ruining my life - and the lives of countless others along the way'. Yeah, that'll learn 'em.
But I digress.
That shit can be stopped, too, if we stop putting so much value on the opinions of others.
And you know why bullying works? Because the bullies KNOW you give a huge shit about them. They're counting on it. Because the second you stop caring, their fun goes away. (Once I stopped caring what Diane and Rachel thought, they left me alone. I wasn't fun to pick on anymore. And years later, I actually became friends with Rachel.)
Sure, it's harder than it sounds. The inundation of 'get along' in our culture makes it harder than it has to be. Hell, any time any kid sticks out from the pack, the pack tries to shove them back in.
Let's use an example from my own kid's life - which she'll hate, but that's how Mom's blog goes sometimes. Back in I think it before 4th grade, she was in summer school which was kinda cool for her because she actually got to celebrate her birthday with her classmates. I bought cupcakes. There were x-number of kids in her class and she wanted most of them to have cupcakes, but there were a small number of little shits she didn't want to give cupcakes to - because they picked on her. I told her she didn't have to give cupcakes to the kids who'd picked on her. The school called me at work it a total hissy fit.
This was a private school that was supposedly big on the idea that actions have consequences... unless you're a bully and a shit, then you get cupcakes from the kids you've been pantsing all year. "Thank you for making my life hell, here's a treat."
I tried to raise her to believe she didn't have to associate with people who were mean to her other than in a most civil way. They taught her she had to be friends with everyone - and if she couldn't be friends with everyone, then there was obviously something wrong WITH HER.
I taught her to be her own person. They taught her she had to be like everyone else and if she couldn't fit in, then there was something wrong with her.
And they (in the big general usage of the word 'they' which encompasses this weird ass culture we live in) are the ones giving a whole lot of lip service to ending bullying. But they aren't really doing a damn thing to stop it.
Stop teaching kids they have to be friends with everyone. Teach them instead that they have to be respectful and civil to everyone - even to the people they don't like or don't understand. Stop teaching kids they have to think like everyone else. Teach them instead to think for themselves. Stop teaching our children to obediently swallow every load of crap that comes from the culture at large. Teach them instead to reason and think and be their own person.
Maybe then the bullying will stop. Or maybe it will go on, but the majority of the kids just won't give a flying fuck and the bullies will wither up from lack of attention.
One can hope.
*And if these bullies are physically assaulting you, call the police (or have a parent call the police) and prosecute the little jerks to the fullest extent of the law. None of this 'they were both fighting so they both get punished' bullshit. No one should get punished for defending themselves - ever.
End of rant note: You are perfectly welcome to disagree with me - as long as you're reasonable and rational about it. I don't allow nasty comments on my blog, so if you're thinking of leaving one, don't bother. I'll delete it before anyone else has a chance to see it.