Bullying a Wimpy Generation
Ah yes, the new pampered generation. I’m sure we were all “bullied” whilst growing up. We loved calling each other names and some of the boys would come to school with black eyes the next day. Girls’ hair would be pulled and teasing was rampant. But hey! We survived. We learnt to stand up for ourselves. We toughened up. None of this nancy-pancy soft, soft approach of today….
After more than a decade of sports with no score kept as not to hurt the feelings of the defeated, the banning of Tag and Dodgeball during recess, “Do Something!” state legislatures are now poised to outlaw bullying because young people are too intimidated by Facebook posts and mean text messages.
In the uproar around the suicides of Ms. Prince, 15, and an 11-year-old boy subjected to harassment in nearby Springfield last year, the Massachusetts legislature stepped up work on an anti-bullying law that is now near passage. The law would require school staff members to report suspected incidents and principals to investigate them. It would also demand that schools teach about the dangers of bullying. Forty-one other states have anti-bullying laws of varying strength.
While what happened to Phoebe Prince was truly tragic, what are today’s youth going to do tomorrow should they be in charge during an international crisis with a taunting, foreign enemy? I’m sorry but dealing with bullies is a part of childhood that develops character. How you deal with it determines what kind of person you’ll be.
While in second grade and attending the Blessed Sacrament School in Cambridge, Massachusetts, I was the target of the school bully (whose name I won’t mention because he may be a nice person now).
I remember it going around one day that he was going to beat me up after school. It was a terrifying experience as the threat loomed.
But instead of just succumbing to my fears and deciding to end it all, I began to use my brain.
I tried to plan an escape route, determining which exit to use vice how much time I’d have should the bully find out and become even angrier that I was going to make his life harder. I planned an out-of-the-way route home. Asking a nun to walk me home was out of the question, so being stealth was key. Eventually I was caught, the beating was not as bad as advertised, and after that, the bully moved on.
As the Circle of Life would have it, the bully usually keeps on the activity until he (or she) messes with the wrong person: usually the silent type, and the ass whuppin’ goes the other way. The bully now has to live with the fact that all the people he victimized are now laughing at him. That’s how we survived, but because we now have helicopter parents who hover everywhere but in their own homes, when their children are harassed and remain defenseless because they’ve not been taught how to deal with harassment, laws have to be enacted to protect (thus shield) them from an aspect of growing up necessary to their development.
Bullying is also handled in a non-equitable fashion.
If the bully comes from a poor family, punishments are metted out differently than if the bully is the son or daughter of the mayor. How would anti-bullying laws be enforced if the kid is from wealth and prominence compared to a kid from a poor, broken home? There will be disparity, but that’s what you get when a meddlesome, attention-starved state legislature decides it has to do something to respond to something they saw on the local news.
And let’s not forget, we do have parents who are quite resistant to the absurdity that their little darlings are even capable of wrongdoing. While living in California, I talked to many a teacher who wouldn’t report a bad child because, unlike when we were growing up and a teacher’s complaint against us was taken by our parents as gospel, today’s parents get in a teacher’s face with “How do you know it was my child?” Yet, the Massachusetts Legislature expects teachers to become more proactive, busting kids who pick on others.
Life has a way of fixing itself.
But as we’re talking about the offspring of the instant gratification generation, any taunting is agonizing if it can’t be turned off this afternoon. Abuse now enters the home via the Internet and we need counselors to deprive children the opportunity to develop the thick skin necessary to compete in a world of bullies.
In Massachusetts and forty-one other states, the bullies have won, all the other kids will lose, and this pussified generation will be ill-equipped to deal with real bullies armed with more than bad names.