School is back…let the bullying B.S. begin again. Look, any bullying is too much and as a victim of it, I am not insensitive to the issue but I can’t keep this too myself because I firmly believe the public is being blatantly misinformed and some balance is desperately required.
I have written about this before and my belief that bullying is being exaggerated didn’t go over too well for some that time and I don’t expect this time will be any different. I feel it is vital the public understands I am not just stating a bias. In 30 years as a professional speaker, I have visited over 7,500 schools, the majority of students teens. Does bullying exist? Yes. I was bullied a fair amount in the ’70’s. Do we need to address it? Yes. The trouble is, the media would have you believe that bullying is epidemic and I categorically disagree. I believe that the level of bullying has remained static over the past several decades but the hype is where the problem exists. This hype exists when discussing teen sex and substance abuse. Does it exist? Of course but I wonder how many people truly know the facts. Well, time for some of my facts.
While listening to talk-radio host, Charles Adler today, a guest whose nickname is “Menzoid” who suggested that some victims of bullying have actually been “wimpified”. I love that. Not to be mean but if anything has grown it is the sheer number of “drama-queens” (male & female) out there. But these folks didn’t invent themselves. They were created by their parents.
Here’s my assessment on what happened.
This timeline could go further back but let’s start in the wake of World War II and keep in mind, I am generalizing. In the wake of what could easily be described as the edge of annihilation, the world has changed. Whether or not one faced the conflict of war, society had one common denominator…appreciation. The focus was “freedom”. The winners had saved the world protecting freedom and it’s essence was appreciation. Post war parents reminded their children how lucky they were a complaining was not acceptable. If a kid didn’t like their vegetables, too bad; you were lucky to have them. Respect wasn’t just expected, it was demanded and youth knew it’s place. “Privilege” outweighed “rights” and homes and schools were not democracies.
Fast forward to these kids having kids. They didn’t like being told to eat their veggies, not having a say and being told what to do. So they promised their kids things would be different. Privilege
swapped places with rights and because their voices were gaining strength at home, their volume was increased at school. Schools were also changing as the people now running them were the same folks having the kids and these little darlings were gaining more power every year. No more straps or spanking, that hurts the little darlings so we’ll create “a timeout” and nobody feels pain. Didn’t pass your grade? That’s so sad and we don’t want to harm your self-esteem so even though you didn’t complete the course, that’s okay! Don’t want to eat your veggies? That’s okay, I didn’t either. In fact, let mommy make you whatever you want. Eight kids? That’s okay…mommy will make eight different meals. No conflict that way and the bonus, the little darlings will love me for it. In fact, just so there is zero conflict, we’ll stop saying “No”; what harm could come from that. The byproduct created is something called “entitlement” and if there is an epidemic, that’s the monster. The mantra for today’s youth…”It’s all about me!” and ironically, it’s not their fault…it is ours!
I could go on but let me switch gears to a personal anecdote. I didn’t like being bullied (duh) but looking back with a very open mind, in many ways I deserved it. In my early teens I was what my nephew, Scott (he’s a year older than me) called “a sniveler”. I was spoiled, I was a whiner, I was a drama-queen and he called me on it. Did he bully me? Well if we apply the new standard, then the answer would be yes. However the actual answer is a blunt NO! I give him credit for tuning me in and in no small coincidence, once I stopped my dramatic, annoying behavior, so stopped the bullies.
Does that mean bullying is the victims’s fault? Obviously not, or at mostly not. I believe one of the byproducts of being entitled is when you don’t get what you want, you exaggerate the event and a byproduct of that is assigning blame. “it can’t be my fault, mommy says I am perfect and if it’s not my fault, it must be be someone else’s so I’ll become a victim…then I’ll get what I want”. Weird logic? I think so but think about it. Isn’t it possible that this theory is as plausible, if not much more possible than the idea that bullying is an epidemic?
True bullying needs to be addressed and unlike what the media would have you believe, schools are handling it just fine. If you are a victim of bullying, ask some tough questions of yourself but more important focus your energy on empowering yourself, not amping up the drama. And if you are a parent who has ceded all control to your little darlings, give your head a shake. Last time I checked, you’re a parent, not a pal. And if you are a bully, remember that what goes around comes around.
And lastly, if you are in the media, how about some true balanced reporting? Nobody likes a drama-queen!