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Friday, September 21, 2007

I have no news article to attach to this one, this is personal...

I have a wonderful thirteen-year old son. He is a joy to parent and he can make me laugh with just a look. However, he is bullied quite a bit at his school. I had to change his school this year because another child stabbed my son in the hand for drumming his fingers while the administration did nothing. They couldn't even be bothered to call the police.

I belong to a Yahoo! list of parents who have children in similar situation. I am taking a quote from a posting someone did today, which really struck a chord with me.

This first posting is a member of the list who is on there, for whatever reason, but it sure isn't because bullying is a problem for them:

On Sep 21, 2007, at 3:37 AM, human_ways wrote:
When I was in school in the eighties in Finland in Europe, in my class pupils got bullied by other pupils only because they were thought to have alienated from themselves and followed too unhealthy ways of living, ones that could damage the whole social environment and even the whole society of they would spread: they were too much centered on school numbers, too much identified with the point of view of the adults, too much centered on outer looks only or too unsocial - so that the ground for their life suffered substantially because of that, in a word: those ways of living were not healthy any more. The nasty bullying tried to awaken them to realising the wisdom of life common to the others, among other things to value of healthy kind of social life.

So in the light of this experience I would suggest that the bullied should discuss with the others the philosophical grounds for those decisions of life that they are in conflict about: are those ways really healthy or not and so should such choices be allowed in the society and in the social environment or not?! The context could be a philosophy class, study mentoring or whatever. But the teachers should take care that they would not support the school likedness to much or the following of the opinions of parents, teachers or other adults:each one of us must make one's own wise choices in life! One should also see deeper into things: the way people dress isn't nonsense, it is a question about a way of life preferred by them. One must also make a difference between the own values of a pupil (too much superficiality isn't OK!) from the values of adults in her/his environment. We are together in this world: the society changes according to what the people in it do – what are the values followed by the bullied and of the bulliers. The typical bullier isn't malicious but instead a teacher in the art of living, in one's own eyes at least – whether she or he is wiser or more stupid than one's"student".

Bullied but not suffered

At first blush, this is an eloquently written posting. It is concise and clear, not being condescending to the lowest common denominator. The person who wrote this is obviously educated and doesn't assume the reader is not. However, the underlying tone is almost unmistakable, that the bullied are responsible for understanding the bullies, not vice verse.

A wonderful member of our board wrote her own response. As much as I would love to put her name here, I am choosing to keep her anonymous. One of the rules of this board is thus: What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas. We don't tell others we are there, for fear of one of the bullies coming there to make trouble. Here is her response to this crap posted:

Nothing about these bullies is instructive regarding how to live our lives. They are abusers plain and simple. They are out of control, power hungry, without conscience, troublemakers, who are usually smart enough and aware enough of their behavior to hide it from authorities. I don't consider that the model of a healthy person.
They are charismatic enough or frightening enough that others will line up to follow them.

They are con artists.

They bully for self amusement and to control others. They in no way intend to instruct anyone.

To justify such abhorrent activity by calling it a "life lesson" is ludicrous at best.
Who are these abusers to sit in judgement of anyone? I have no recollection of this responsibility being delegated to them. It would also be quite easy to dismantle the "quality" of the person that is a bully...just as they do to their victims. The difference is respect, restraint, good breeding.. as well as the value system of each individual involved.

Abusers have never been taught to respect others. They are the ones who need the life lessons ---not the victim. They are low-rent losers who may get their day in the sun as kids but never learn how to properly interact in society. They may eventually be successful but I believe they are losers who feel so inadequate that they will always seek the next victim in order to puff themselves up.

I am outraged at the idea that the victim is at fault for simply being themselves in a harmless fashion. Blaming the victim is so lame as to defy explanation. Those that need this concept explained will never understand it. There is no redeeming perspective to bullying. Perhaps they attempt to justify their own ill bred bullying behavior. Who knows? In any event that concept will forever be inexplicable to me.

Any questions?

As I said earlier, my son was/is being bullied. It hurts my heart every day. My husband was also bullied growing up. they tease me constantly that I went to a magic school, where no one really did this. Where I went to school, all thirteen years (the fall of 1969 was the first year Ohio required Kindergarten in the public schools) was a small school district. All of us knew each other practically from birth because our parents knew each other. If someone did something wrong, you can bet your booty your parents knew about it before the dust settled. There were consequences to our actions and our parents weren't afraid to let us know them. We didn't bully each other...

Now, parents wish to be their kids' friends. There are no consequences in life any longer. The tree hugging psychologists tell us:

"Is your kid out drunk with their friends and can't drive home? Tell them to call you to get them home safely with no consequences." Uh, if MY kid is out getting drunk, there sure as heck ARE consequences AND they'll get in trouble even more if they DON'T call me.

"Let your child know you are safe. Be their best friend." - My child has enough friends, they NEED parents. I would hope my children trust me enough to come to me to talk when they have an issue that deserves the attention of an adult, but I'm not naive enough to know they will every single time. I am not their friend, I am a parent, with all the responsibilities that go along with it.

A great deal of parents today suffer from what I call the "Precious Darling Syndrome". They have children with no character, morals or sense of right and wrong. They are either too busy or too apathetic towards their child to pay much attention to them and their children begin to act out in the form of violence of some kind. Every weekend, there are children across the country who are committing crimes of some kind, whether it is assaulting a classmate or knocking off the local gas station with a weapon in hand. These children are eventually caught, with the psychology of crime being, the more a person does this and gets away with it, the more daring they become in the commission of their crimes. Once the child is arrested, their parents ARE called. The parents, when presented with the evidence of their child's crime, usually respond with something along the lines of, "Not my precious darling." They then proceed to spend all the money in Fort Knox to attain legal representation in order to prevent their child from being responsible for their actions. As a result of this, their child begins to believe they are above the law. By the time they are adults, they are committing crimes worthy of being sent to an adult prison and they never come to terms with the reality they and they alone are responsible for their crimes.

The following is a quote from a study conducted by a university specialist, taken from the website

There appears to be a strong relationship between bullying other students and experiencing later legal and criminal problems as an adult. In one study, 60% of those characterized as bullies in grades 6-9 had at least one criminal conviction by age 24.[16] Chronic bullies seem to maintain their behaviors into adulthood, negatively influencing their ability to develop and maintain positive relationships.[17]

16. Olweus, D. (1993). Bullying at School: What We Know and What We Can Do. Cambridge, MA: Blackwell, ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED384 437.
17. Oliver, R., Hoover, J. H., & Hazler, R. (1994). The perceived roles of bullying in small-town Midwestern schools. Journal of Counseling and Development, 72 (4), 416-419.

In short, bullies in middle school grow up to become the criminals of tomorrow. While they are bullying, they are not affecting the outside world in any other than as a bully in their school. As adults, they become the person who steals your car, breaks into your home (perhaps with you in it) and kills a stranger if for no other reason than they wanted their wallet.

It saddens me that the parents of today, as well as the administrators of the schools, turn a blind eye to this kind of violence. They are propagating the myth that the "bullied" are somehow responsible for what happens around them, while the rest, the "bullies" are responsible to no one but themselves.

While I realize my writing this today will change nothing in this world, it gets this off my chest. This is what is bothering me today, and every day given my son is a victim in this. He suffers, every day, with "his" reality that he has no worth. If the adults in his world didn't feel he was worthy of "saving" why should he?

I love my son to distraction. I know he will someday grow up to become a spectacular adult. For the bullies of this world to ignore that, well, I feel sorry for them, not enough to excuse their behavior, but perhaps enough to send them a card when they are residents of Cell Block A, to remind them of when their destructive behavior started and to thank his/her parents for their lack of caring about them enough to teach them right from wrong.

Just my two cents.