Wednesday, September 28, 2011

What do we do with a bully??


In every species, the stronger pick on the weaker. With some animals, it is called dominance- where the one with the stronger personality will control certain aspects of the relationship they have with the other animals. I see it in my kitten and my roommate’s cats. Her older cat is the dominant cat, and keeps my kitten and her younger cat in line. With dogs, the dominant dog is called the alpha. My dog, although usually the youngest one at the dog park, was the alpha. He would take things from other dogs, dominate them physically, and just try to run things. I tried to teach him principles that we often teach kids- to share, to stop picking on other dogs, to just generally chill out- but, he was just a dog. He didn’t have the capacity to care about other dogs’ feelings.

When you take this idea of “dominance” and “alpha” and apply it to human beings, we call it something different: BULLYING. Imagine that you are at work and you see a woman mocking another woman’s outfit (yes, it still happens as adults), or you are at school and see a larger boy knocking another boy into the lockers. Bullying looks like a lot of different things. Men often fight or pick on each other physically, while women often use words.

I remember when the Columbine shootings occurred in 1999. Post shooting, a lot of discussion centered on the nature of high school cliques, subcultures, and bullying. For our school, I feel like this is when bullying started to be taken seriously. I remember my teacher in 2000 giving a short speech on how we need to respect each other. I noticed a change within my graduating class that year, but I’m not sure if it was because we were all graduating and didn’t care about the competition anymore, or if we were maturing.

Bullying has always existed. Because of the nature of competition within genders and social classes, bullying will always exist. But, what can we do to change how bullying is affecting today’s youth? Do we step in those situations and stick up for the weak? Do we help to build up and encourage the one getting picked on? Do we teach them how to fight with words? Do we work to open the eyes of the bullies?
What do you think?

What is your experience with bullying? What is a realistic solution?

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