Bullying: A Problem Sometimes Used as a Tool
In teaching our kids not to bully, are we actually creating more bullies and more victims?
Bullying is a big enough deal to have its own .gov website: stopbullying.gov.
There, readers will find that bullying has a definition that seems to become less rigid when applied to various targets of those who either possess the power to intervene or those self-anointed to judge. Bullying should not be condoned, justified, or encouraged, but it seems the approach to dealing with such unwanted behavior is resulting in more victims rather than empowered individuals.
Bullying, per the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, involves “unwanted, aggressive behavior that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time.”
There’s no federal law that specifically applies to bullying, but most states have measures in place to define it, identify protected groups, specify reporting requirements, create safeguards, implement education and training, and establish consequences. A key in the resources and guides offered include creating a safe environment that would prevent and prohibit such behavior. Simply, the aim is to guarantee either no or limited exposure to unwanted behavior, particularly in a school environment.
The downside? School psychologist and author Israel Kalman posits that “anti-bullying education teaches kids that they are entitled to a life without bullying” and that society has a duty to protect them from potentially negative behaviors. Kalman argues that the move to create such a sterile environment free from any conflict is actually successful in creating more victims rather than dealing with the culprits or empowering others to deal with conflict resolution.
Kalman identifies three roles all are assigned in bullying, in the current approach embraced by academia and social activists: the bully who carries sole responsibility, the victim who is held completely harmless, and the bystander that either actively or passively enables bullying. Institutions of learning are held legally responsible to address bullying and, with this construct, adapt a “law enforcement” approach where all negative behavior is practically criminal. Each interaction — verbal and physical, along with even intentions — are monitored and analyzed by those in charge, who are employing a program created in the 1970s by Norwegian psychology researcher Professor Dan Olweus. The Olweus Bullying Prevention Program (OBPP) is considered the gold standard and, as such, is the most widely used in the world.
But social science has a problem living up to the true framework of being a system of knowledge that can be tested and replicated. In the case of OBPP, analysis shows that even when employed for a two-year span, the failure rate, when measuring a reduction in children’s reports of being bullied more than twice monthly, is 88%. Meaning that only a 12% reduction was documented in the 24-month study. Additional research duplicates this result and even records an increase in bullying. Klaman writes that the pathologies of perceived victimhood are actually as or more dangerous than the actual trauma or threat of a negative event.
It’s worrisome to understand that a generation, if not two, was raised to expect little to no exposure to some type of interpersonal conflict, seeking some hermetically sealed bubble of life that is isolated from the reality of humanity. Without exposure and experience in dealing with actual conflict, the need for “adulting” classes will continue to rise because we’re not raising fully developed humans. Instead, we’re seeing men and women of adult ages struggle mightily with responsibility, stress, group dynamics, and the typical unexpected events that pop up in life.
While bullying is criticized among academia and progressives, it’s often a tool used in their efforts to obtain the “moral high ground,” or to simply muzzle those deemed as the bully when it’s more like a difference of opinion. Look no further than last weekend’s monumental mischaracterization of events around the Covington Catholic School young men who were first described as disrespectful, aggressive, hostile, and racist. Why? Because it fit the narrative of the Presstitutes covering the March for Life.
Just as school roles are defined as either bully, victim, or enabler, leftists always mark their opponents as the racist, the bigot, or the whatever while they stand as the victim. The guise of victimhood is a powerful tool to silence critics, censor opponents, and marginalize those who challenge failed assertions.
Say no to the bullying of the truly innocent. Disarm those who use the premise as their own weapon.