Social Question

poofandmook's avatar

How is bullying any different today than it was 10, 20, 30 years ago?

Asked by poofandmook (17225 points ) October 19th, 2010

People are making this huge ginormous deal about bullying. Task forces to stop bullying are being set up in schools where victims of bullies committed suicide. Laws are being presented into legislation. The media is beating it to death.

Yes, I can’t stand bullying. Kids can be mean little bastards. I know firsthand, as a fat, poor girl growing up as the racial minority… being caucasian. I got bullied bigtime. Physically injured, sent home in hysterics more than once, my belongings stolen or damaged. It’s horrible.

But really, isn’t this part of growing up? Yes it’s a rotten stinking shame about the kids who committed suicide. I think it’s more about suicide being more “popular” for lack of a better term, than it is about bullies being worse. Kids have been tormented by each other as long as humans have existed. There have always been gay kids, short kids, fat kids, mixed race kids, etc. etc.

How much is all this effort to stop bullying really going to help? Sure you might reach one here or there but let’s face it: Kids are kids. They’re jerks. They’re mean. They’re naive and immature. They’re little bundles of raging hormones. Nobody is ever going to be able to wipe out bullying. But if we coddle kids, how are they going to grow a thick enough skin to make it into adulthood?

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63 Answers

Seaofclouds's avatar

I think some of the issue is that children don’t seem to stand up for themselves like we use to. I was bullied in high school. I stood up to her, we got in a fight (she hit me first), and she never bothered me again. I constantly here parents telling their kids that something like that is wrong and that they should never get in fights. I think we have a lot of kids that take it to mean they shouldn’t stand up for themselves.

Bullying does seem to go farther now then it use to, but I relly believe the lack of children standing up for themselves plays a major roll in it.

just_jen's avatar

Putting a stop to bullying is absolutley necessary. I don’t think that anyone believes we can put an end to all bullying forever more but we might actually teach kids to treat others with respect and dignity. I’m sorry to hear about your misfortine as a kid but wouldn’t you have liked someone to show you a little kindness in school. Its true, kids can be mean but they don’t have to grow up and be jerks as an adult if someone teaches them differently!

poofandmook's avatar

@Seaofclouds: see, that’s the thing. I don’t think bullying goes farther. I think kids are being raised to be soft, vulnurable squishes, honestly. Stay away from germs, don’t get dirty, don’t stick stuff in your mouth, don’t eat non-organic foods, don’t take antibiotics, don’t watch movies with explosions, don’t play games that shoot people. Goodness.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

I can only speak for my own experience of bullying between 30 and 40 years ago. It was horrific growing up as a gay boy in a small Southern town. I’m still dealing with the self-loathing and self-hatred, and I’m 47 years old. We were taught in our churches that LGBT people were subhuman. We were deserving of the worst sort of punishment, and I believe that is why we were singled out for the worst sort of abuse.

To say that bullying can’t be wiped out and should therefore not get the attention that is paid to it today is willfully ignorant. It can be greatly reduced, and it should. It is not the victim’s responsibility to stop the bullying. It is a societal problem and requires a solution that is just that big. Society needs to recognize that villifying any group is wrong and should be dealt with strongly.

poofandmook's avatar

@just_jen: No, you’re misunderstanding me. Bullies were dealt with the way the administration saw fit. If they weren’t, my dad went in for a conference, and THEN they were dealt with correctly. They never had task forces and such nonsense. You teach kids the best you can to treat everyone with respect, sure, but it doesn’t always work that way.

BoBo1946's avatar

There was lots of bullying when I was in school 40 years ago. Back then, it was just part of being a freshman in school. I didn’t like it, but it was no big deal.. But, today seems like kids are super sensitive to this…I don’t know why either. Lately, Anderson Cooper had a special program on bullying. It has become a very serious problem in our schools. So many suicides over bullying. The solutions is for teachers and administrators to be taught how to recognize a problem and how to deal with the problem. That would take more education for teachers etc. in this area. Dr. Phil mentioned this on Anderson’s show. But, having said that, teachers have so much to do already, but something has to be done.

poofandmook's avatar

@hawaii_jake: Thanks for calling me ignorant. I’m not saying it should be brushed under the rug or ignored. But why is it such a big deal now, where it wasn’t 10, 20, or 30, etc. years ago? Why weren’t there bullying task forces and legislation and what have you when I was getting pushed around? What’s the difference now that didn’t exist then?

CyanoticWasp's avatar

I think the big difference between “then” and “now” is the Internet. Bullying used to be done on a much smaller scale and with a lot less publicity. That went against the victim in that it wasn’t widely known, but it also wasn’t so widely “done”, either. Now, with the social networks that kids have and the instant communications—and the depressing fact of human nature that few want to stand up for the victim—it can seem like the whole world is aligned against a bullying victim. (And when the bullies’ parents are aligned against them, and making their own fake Facebook pages and real threats, then it can seem to tip the scale.)

OreetCocker's avatar

Too many ways to ‘get at’ people now. With the web, facebook, mobile phones and constant communication it no longer stops when you get home!

just_jen's avatar

I don’t think hawaii_jake was calling you ingorant. I think it was the tone that appeared to be underlying the original question. It sounds like you think “kids are kids” and that instead of attempting to prevent bullying, we need to teach kids how to fight with their peers to stand up for themselves. Which would just create more problems rather than solving one.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

@poofandmook : I’m sorry that it comes across as calling you willfully ignorant. It was not my intention.

I think the answer comes in the last part of my answer above. It is not the responsibility of the victim of bullying to stop the bully. In the past, this was the accepted response. Nowadays, if there is a fight on school grounds, both parties are suspended regardless of the circumstances. It’s being taught and rightly so that violence is not the way to solve problems.

This is a societal problem, and it requires a solution that is as wide as society. That solution rests in our homes, our schools, our businesses, and other large institutions. Sexual harrasment used to be normal and laughed at out of hand, but it was recognized for the negative thing that it is. Legislation against it has greatly decreased it much to the good of all people involved.

Blueroses's avatar

You might live in a community where it is common to be attacked by bears. Sure, people who live through the attacks are strong but wouldn’t you expect some bear awareness programs to increase everybody’s chance of survival?

DominicX's avatar

@poofandmook

People didn’t give a fuck back then. Based on what my mom tells me about growing up in the ‘60s and ‘70s, bullying was just “meh”. Boys will be boys. Everybody gets bullied at school, just how it goes. Even my mom participated in bullying an unpopular girl at school. People didn’t pay attention. As soon as people realized how much damage bullying was doing to people, it began to warrant more attention. (Not to mention that internet allows for a different type of bullying and for quicker spread of information about bullying).

Cruiser's avatar

Cyber bullying appears to be rampant and especially cruel versus the name calling, arm twisting, knocking to the pavement after taking the lunch money bullying of my days.

Seaofclouds's avatar

@poofandmook I think the internet allows bullying to go a lot father these days then it did years ago. Cases like the group of girls that ganged up on another girl, beat the crap out of her, videotaping the whole thing, and then putting it on the internet make me wonder how far they would have went if they weren’t going to put it on the internet. I wonder if, maybe, they were driven just a little bit more to do it, because of the attention they felt they were going to get by putting it on the internet.

Bullying definitely needs to be addressed. Children need to know that they can go to an adult to get help. School and police forces need to work together. Children should know that they can stand up for themselves as well. We should teach our children that they don’t have to be a victim. They can stand up for themselves. No, fighting it out isn’t the answer, but there are ways for children to stand up for themselves without fighting.

marinelife's avatar

I think the presence of social networks as an adjunct to bullying spreads the shame and the pain magnifying it exponentially.

CMaz's avatar

In the day. Understanding the concept of being a bully or being confronted by a bully was a hands on experience. You HAD TO figure it out yourself.
Today it is done virtually. That false scene of security is a real eye opener (or closer) when they take it into the real world.

No reset button there.

You spent more time processing it. You could not bitch, demand your rights or sue.
You not only risked getting your ass kicked by the bully but your parents (lovingly) for allowing it to happen.

Because of that, you also got coached on how to avoid it. A valuable life lesson, as far as I am concerned.

Kayak8's avatar

Bullying 40 years ago happened in an environment where we really didn’t understand how things could hurt kids or at least hadn’t legislated safety concerns to the extent we have today (domestic violence wasn’t discussed, we didn’t even have seat belts, much less airbags, my baby sister road in the back of the station wagon on a pillow in a laundry basket, no bike helmets, drunk driving wasn’t the type of concern it is today, we left doors unlocked and keys in cars).

There has been a real shift in how we think about so many things as the surrounding conditions have changed (kids are no longer even safe just to go out and play or run alone through the woods anymore). We used to have neighborhoods where kids stuck together and protected their friends, we didn’t have “helicopter parents” watching our every move. Now we have identity theft. Now we have cyber bullying and cell phones and a number of new ways to annoy other people. Some folks will always step over the line and take things to a new level.

We have adults who bully other parents’ kids at sporting events. What behaviors are we modelling for our children when we spew hate toward this group or that person? Our kids have better tools for bullying these days and then throw in untended weapons in the house and things can escalate to an entirely new level. I have to pause when I remember that Columbine was almost 20 years ago. Some kids who are bullied will hurt themselves and other kids will lash out at the perceived bullies or the system that created the bullying. As the tools get better, the bullying can fly under radar, but bullying and the responses to bullying can be devastating in ways that last for years.

Winters's avatar

One really lame thing is (at least in my old school district and the districts surrounding mine) that if you’re being bullied to the extent that the bullies begin hitting you and you hit back in self defense, you’re just as likely to get suspended/expelled as the bullies. Idiotic if you ask me, apparently the school district wants victims to bend over and take it and scream for help to see if anyone will come help or report it to a teacher/staff after taking the abuse.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

The main difference is that years ago, parents were so much different. If you were a boy and you complained of being bullied, daddy would say “Shake it off and act like a man”. If you were a girl and you complained of being bullied, you were told (if it was a boy)“Oh, he just likes you”, (if it was a girl)“She’s just jealous of you”. Not much was done about it. Because of that, bullying has gotten worse over the years, and a lot more dangerous.

People are taking it more seriously now that there have been so many reports on the news about kids (even kids that are 9 years old) committing suicide because of bullies.

I agree with everyone else who says another difference is the internet bullying.

And another difference is quite simple and quite controversial. A lot of parents are too soft on kids these days when they need to be disciplined. “Little Johnny called his teacher a bitch, so we put him in time out.” You did what? Riiiiiiiiight. I don’t want to get into an argument over whether or not spanking is right or wrong, but I’ll say this: my little cousin is a complete and total shit who pushes his mother into warnings and time outs and groundings. He’s been this way all his life and he is now an 11 year old shit. She could have nipped that right in the bud at age 2 by smacking her hand up against his fat little butt when he crossed the line. I don’t mean beating with a belt or with a switch from the tree and I don’t mean hitting on the face, because that sort of thing can actually cause the problems to get worse. But a lot of kids need a good swift smack to the ass when they deserve it, and if they don’t get it, they grow up to be bullies and worse.

woodcutter's avatar

kids are mean little bastards, always have been. I’m thinking they are even meaner nowadays than they were say 20 or 30 years ago. That, and a lot of kids are a lot more emo now than back in the day. That combination adds up to a more severe situation, I think. I wonder how these bullies do later in life and do they regret hurting their victims after they have had some time to grow and think about it. Maybe there will be a book out called “Memoirs of a Bully” some day if there hasn’t been one already.

Kayak8's avatar

@woodcutter I really appreciate your post (but I am old) and I really want to understand what your are saying. What does this mean, “Kids are a lot more emo now than back in the day”? I have to understand that sentence to understand how it contributes to a more severe situation.

josie's avatar

I am with the people who maintain that the problem is people who are too afraid to stick up for themselves.
You, we, are entitled to be us. If someone does not like that, that is too bad. They are wrong.
If they are mean and insulting, is that a surprise? There are people like that everywhere and they will not go away. In fact, some of them are so mean that they think it is OK to set off bombs in public places and fly airplanes into buildings.
It is not going to get “nicer” out there, and that is one of life’s important lessons.
They can say what they want-words are cheap shit. If they make a credible threat, or lay hands on you, you are allowed to respond physically.
While children are learning lessons like look both ways, and do not talk to strangers, they also need to learn how to strike hard where it hurts.
Naturally, this is how I was raised, and this is how I raised my children. I am a proud veteran and successful businessman and they are now young adults, and kind and generous, as well as unafraid. I have never done anything I regret (except smoke cigarettes, but I quit, and marry my ex wife, but I divorced her)
Now, I will wait for the standard Fluther criticism that I am some sort of wing nut, or sociopath.
Have at it. I don’t care.

Seaofclouds's avatar

@josie Very well said! I was raised the same way and my son is being the same way too. He knows how to throw a punch and where to land that punch. He also knows that he doesn’t hit first, but if someone lays their hands on him, he is allowed to defend himself and he will not get in trouble at home.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

@Seaofclouds My daddy always said “Girl, don’t never start no fight, but if someone picks one with you, damn well finish it.” He also added, “If you cain’t finish it alone, you come tell your daddy and you won’t have no more problems”. (My daddy speaks “country” lol) I lived by that, and I tell my daughters that.

woodcutter's avatar

@Kayak8 Emo, as in much more delicate, easier to bruise. I think there has been a cultural shift away from self sufficiency as to expect the proper authorities to handle harassment problems and in doing so results in more disappointment with said authority. Too much emphasis on being the more civilized or more evolved person by avoiding violence at all costs, to turn the other cheek, to wait….forever for outside help. In other words, back in “the day” before anti depressants and all other manner of psychological codling one would go for broke and attempt to just kick the shit out of their aggressor. Even if the results of such a pre-empted drive weren’t that great, the bullied would at least get some form of respect from their tormentors. This shit has to stop. And really the only way to do that, is to stop it, the old fashioned way.

MissAusten's avatar

I’ve been asking myself this same question lately, and I think a few of the people who already answered this question are onto something.

@CyanoticWasp and @ChazMaz made points that are related and should be looked at closely. Bullying isn’t something that happens at school, or on the bus, or on the way home from school that a kid can escape from once he or she gets home. It’s not just in the school hallway, it’s a text message. An email. A call on the cell phone, a post on Facebook. An entire page on Facebook. Myspace. Youtube. Someone pulls a nasty prank on you, and it isn’t something humiliating witnessed by the kids in your class, it has a million views and three thousand comments on youtube. The school has no authority or doesn’t care, if you can bring yourself to confide in a teacher. You don’t want your mom or dad to get involved because that’s embarrassing and you’ll only be treated worse. The harassment and bullying doesn’t stop when you leave school, and you can’t confront it or stick up for yourself because most of it is virtual.

If you’re the bully, you’re not faced with an actual person. You’re in front of a computer or a cell phone. It’s even hard to empathize with that, and if you’re a kid with poor judgment, even harder to avoid doing something stupid and hurtful just to earn cool points with your friends. Shit, did I just date myself by saying cool points?

One bully in the school hallway: stand up for yourself. A pack of bullies that single you out for harassment from every direction, in real life and online? Good luck.

I remember hearing about a case where a girl killed herself after being harassed and bullied over a naked photo she’d sent her boyfriend using her cell phone. They broke up, and he shared the picture with everyone he knew. She was labeled a slut, constantly teased and bullied both at school and online. She killed herself. I wondered why she didn’t talk to her parents or get help from a teacher, but then I thought she probably couldn’t stand the idea of telling anyone about the naked photo.

It must have been a lot easier 10 or 20 years ago to ask Dad for advice about Johnny knocking you down on the way home from school, or Jane pulling your pigtails and calling you fat. Now its, “Gee Dad, the boys at school all call me gay. They started a Facebook paged called Joe The Fag Should Die.” Or, “Mom, I sent my boyfriend a picture of my tits, and he sent it to his friends. All the other girls in school are calling me a slut and my own friends won’t walk to me.” How many teens can go to the parents for things like that? How many would like to, but can’t?

It’s not just about sticking up for yourself, or kids being meaner or parents being too weak. It’s kids still being kids, but having more ways to damage each other. It’s kids with ways to make every bad decision permanent thanks to the internet. It’s kids who do stupid things, like they’ve always done, but with thousands and thousands of witnesses instead of only a few. Kids need different tools to deal with bullies today, and parents and teachers need to pay attention so kids who need help get it.

What’s really sad is something else I read recently. I’ll have to see if I can find it again, but it was an article quoting someone who said that suicides among gay teens haven’t increased lately, they’ve just been getting a lot more attention.

anartist's avatar

Bullying “back then” was rough, but the limits of the bullying and the responses were unarmed fighting. Bullying today can bring about shocking and tragic responses like the Columbine incident because the limits for juveniles now include armed actions and reactions, sometimes with lethal force, as well as more frequent, and more frequently successful, suicide.

CyanoticWasp's avatar

Absolutely right, @MissAusten.

In fact, not even 20 years ago, but less than 10 years ago my son was being “sort of picked on” by a few kids in his high school. He was smaller and less inclined to get physical (a bit like I was at his age) and I could see things starting to escalate slowly but surely.

Part of the difference was that he told me. And there was a huge reluctance on his part to do that because of residual feelings of him thinking (because of his grandfathers’ attitudes) “he should just be a man”. Fortunately I was able to call a meeting with the vice principal of the high school and my son, very quietly, and without mentioning any other names, in front of the VP I told my son, “If someone hurts you, then you have to hurt him a bit more, because that’s what it’ll take for him to go after a different target than you. So you might get a bloody nose, but make sure you break the other kid’s nose.” The VP didn’t say a word, but gave full tacit approval—and said he’d watch out (for my son) that he didn’t get the broken nose.

So what had started out as my son being tripped and smacked into lockers in the school hallways turned into a dented locker door (from the other kid), and a detention (for the other kid). And things quieted down and got back to normal.

But that was before things could have gone viral, before kids could pile on with the anti-social networking capability that some of them have now, before YouTube and a hundred other avenues of harassment. And I was able to save my own son some grief… and pretty much knowingly turn it onto someone else.

We can’t save the world, and it’s hard enough now to save our own kids.

YARNLADY's avatar

I was teased and bullied my entire school career and I was in such pain that I tried to commit suicide when I was 18, back in the good old days.

I will never condone hitting or bullying of any kind by anyone of any age.

rooeytoo's avatar

I don’t know if bullying is worse now. I am not sure if it is more hurtful to be ridiculed in front of a class of people you have known for years or a bunch of faceless strangers on the internet. But if we accept that it is worse what can be done? Teachers are handcuffed when it comes to disciplining students, if they yell or threaten or swear or raise a hand they come under danger of law suit by vengeful parents. If they talk quietly and nicely they are ignored. Same goes for principals and other administrators. I am sure you don’t want more police in school halls, I know that because in a recent question regarding police presence most flutherites said they were more afraid of police than crime. Maybe sensitivity classes for the bullies?? The bullies that chased me home from school 50 years ago probably would have found that amusing so I don’t assume these new super bullies would be any different. Do you suspend the bullies from school? Then someone would be saying these poor bullies are already disengaged and troubled youth so suspension would simply alienate them further. Do you send them to a special school that is only for bullies? Do you send them to prison to be rehabilitated, but if rehabilitation is so simple why can’t it be done without incarceration? Do you send them to prison to punish them, again that only alienates further and prisons really are not allowed to punish anymore. There is no death penalty no matter what you do because it isn’t a deterrent and violence begets more violence (I don’t know how if they’re dead???).

So I am not arguing that it is worse or that something must be done, I just wonder what you want to do about it?

Nullo's avatar

Bullying has not changed; what’s happened is that the bullied have risen to power and are making an ever-loving fuss about it.

Paradox's avatar

We should be concerned. Does this mean because someone was abused as a child we should accept other children being abused? What some of these morons on here who’ve decided to make a joke of this topic do not realize is there is a line between classical bullying and kids literally going too far with it and trying to ruin another kids life. Bullying has gotten more severe, we are seeing kids being nearly beat to death, burned and harrassed into insanity. Yes we should just as concerned about this as we seem to be about kids using drugs.

@Nullo Yes bullying has changed. We have instant communication today and less morals than before. I didn’t hear of kids being beat or burned to death when I was in school. Yes kids were assholes when I was in school too but it has gotten worse. If we don’t give a shit about this issue than we shouldn’t give a shot about any issue then.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

The internet does have everything to do with it, I agree completely. The speed that information moves, and the number of people that it reaches is insane compared to the bullying of the past.
For many of us who were bullied (I was picked on in elementary school for my last name) in the past, learning to defend yourself was all that it took. I started throwing punches, the bullying stopped. The problem is that with the internet it can be extremely difficult to defend yourself, and your reputation when the slander is spread all over Myspace and Facebook and Youtube. It reaches audiences far beyond the schoolyard, and that in itself is dangerous. It makes the victim susceptible to even more bullying.. because there are always the assholes out there that can’t help but kick a kid when they’re down. Fact of life. Times are a changin’.

woodcutter's avatar

I’m just glad I got through the childhood crap before the internet came into being. Now we can sue for slander with much, much more in damages, yeah baby.

poofandmook's avatar

I agree with the internet angle. There are many more tools, as someone above said, for a bully these days. But the increasing coddling parenting methods that are becoming more and more standard… it’s taking coping/defense tools AWAY from the victims.

The technology isn’t going to stop. There will be more and more ways for bullies to do what they do. But assigning all these other people to fix bullying isn’t helping the kids adapt new ways to cope and defend themselves on their own.

CMaz's avatar

Lets put the cards on the table.

These days kids are (some) a bunch of pussies that have do idea what accountability is.
They get all juiced up in the virtual world. Becoming fantasy megalomaniacs.

Then they try to transfer it to reality.
It, becoming a loose loose situation for everyone.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

@poofandmook I don’t necessarily disagree that overprotection isn’t always the answer. What do you propose for the kids?

poofandmook's avatar

@TheOnlyNeffie: I’m not sure exactly… I think it starts with families practicing better communication… but then, if that’s not taught and practiced from the very start, it’s unlikely to work.

All I know is that as a tormented kid, when I was growing up, no matter how busy my dad was (single parent, college and work both full time), he was super observant. He noticed things I didn’t think he did, and when he saw indications that something was different or wrong, he dealt with whatever it was. If he didn’t like my answer or thought I wasn’t telling the whole truth, he’d go through school channels. But for the most part, he hung back and let me deal with stuff on my own. And I did just fine.

Nullo's avatar

Perhaps it would be enough to teach kids to not let themselves be bullied. Sometimes it’s as easy as a knuckle sandwich, and other times it’s a stoic refusal to react to bullying.

YARNLADY's avatar

@Nullo I’m wondering what kind of magic words would teach a sensitive child like I was how to become stoic and not react to bullying.

My family tried, but it just didn’t take. I suffered so badly, and NO ONE noticed. I tried to punish them for being so blind by attempting suicide, but that didn’t work either.

Nullo's avatar

@YARNLADY My folks said, “They’re just trying to push your buttons. Don’t let them. They’re just trying to provoke you.”

YARNLADY's avatar

@Nullo Yes, my folks tried to convince me of that also, but I didn’t grasp the “don’t let them” part until about 10 years later.

Paradox's avatar

@Nullo You don’t seem to get it do you now. That is kind of hard to do when you have 5 or 6 kids on your fucking ass. One pattern I always notice is when kids are in groups (same with adults even) they behave differently than when alone. My nephew did fight back to only have several other kids attack him.

Bullying has become alot more than just some oversized flunky threatening to beat you up if you do not give him your lunch money. Kids are alot more viscious today, ganging and severly beating up other kids, burning them, stabbing other kids with needles and safety pins. You are oversimplifying this issue. This isn’t bullying but outright viscious aggravated assault and even attempted murder in some cases.

You wouldn’t expect people to do these things to you as an adult so why can’t kids be safe in their own schools from these viscious assaults. A line needs to be drawn here and kids need to know that if they cross that line the consequences will be severe. Not letting the same punks back in the same schools after a slap on the wrist punishment after beating somebody so severly the kid is disfigured for life and suffers severe brain damage. If we aren’t concerned about “bullying” than what should we be concerned about?

Nullo's avatar

@Paradox If it’s outright aggravated assault and even attempted murder in some cases, then call it that. That’s not bullying.

Nullo's avatar

@Paradox And where the fnord did you get the idea that I’m unconcerned about bullying?
I operate on the assumption that the school officials won’t be of any help to the kid, as they tend so often not to be. When the authorities aren’t any good, then you’ve got to try something else.
Self-reliance is an important attribute, Paradox. The teachers won’t always save you, and Mommy won’t always be there.

Since you asked, my primary concerns right now all have to do with the state of my affairs.

poofandmook's avatar

@Paradox: I have to agree with @Nullo here. That’s a lot worse than just bullying.

MissAusten's avatar

It’s still called bullying, even though in some cases it is so extreme. It certainly crosses the “kids being kids” line. If you look up any article about any of the recent teen suicides and read descriptions of the “bullying,” it is clearly much worse than what most of think of as bullying. :(

Nullo's avatar

@MissAusten That’s why we don’t let journalists define words for us.

Paradox's avatar

@Nullo @poofandmook It’s not about overprotecting a kid when “mommy” will not always be there. It is about holding kids responsible for their own actions. If you dealt with persistant harassment at the workplace no matter how you responded wouldn’t you want something done about it if you reported it?

You’ve missed something else here, not everyone responds the same way to harassment (which is what bullying really is). I agree with the core point of your argument but when someone does something bad to someone else shouldn’t we be condemning the perpetrators over the victims?

My nephew knows how to fight and stand up for himself but the same group of kids continue to harass him no matter what he does. Should we be punishing people for how they respond to bad actions being perpetrated on them rather than the people behind commiting these offenses to begin with? Let’s start punishing women for being raped while we are at it. It’s high time bullying is getting the attention it deserves. We need to start holding kids and their parents responsible for negative actions as well.

Nullo's avatar

@Paradox At no point do I suggest that letting the mini-felons act with impunity is a good idea. I’m talking about contingency. I had hoped that my previous posts made that clear.

Paradox's avatar

To all of you “bullying being overrated” people on this thread who magically think you can teach your kid to stick up for themselves in most situations I have a question for you based on what I’ve seen and experienced myself. What do you tell your kid after he stuck up for himself but still got his butt whooped and still gets picked even more than before? I’m interested in a response here. Do you yell at your own kid for allowing himself to be picked on or not succeeding in in fending off the wolves?

Bullying is not as straightforward as standing up to someone, punching them in the face and bingo end of problem. This is a very complicated problem. Bullying is also a predecessor to other behaviours including outright aggravated assault, attempted murder and in several cases manslaughter.

Seaofclouds's avatar

@Paradox There is more to standing up for yourself than getting in a fight. My son knows that standing up for himself means getting help when he needs it, in addition to not letting others boss him around. If someone is trying to get him to do something he doesn’t want to do, he knows he doesn’t have to do it. He knows he can tell them no and that if anything else happens, he is to get help if he needs it. Whether it’s screaming so that an adult hears what’s going on or going to an adult as soon as he gets the chance, he knows those things. He also knows that I will not stand for people hurting him and getting away with it. If it happens at school and the school doesn’t handle it, I will step in and get everyone involved in it (the school administrators and the police). My son also goes to a school that has a zero tolerance policy for bullying, so that makes a big difference too. Within the first few days of being in school there was an assembly for all students about bullying and the consequences of bullying. The parents also had to sign a form saying we understand their zero tolerance policy.

Oh, and I would never yell at my son for standing up for himself and getting into a fight (whether he won or lost the fight).

Nullo's avatar

@Paradox You commend him for his efforts, and perhaps discuss strategies and options.

poofandmook's avatar

@Paradox: Absolutely, in no way, do I believe that we should punish or condemn the victims. I think parents should teach their kids how to handle your standard, every day bullying… words. If physical attacks come into play, THEN do whatever needs to be done to stop it via whatever means.. parents, school staff, etc.

My point is that kids need to learn how to cope and defend themselves… words to words… rather than expecting all these other people to coddle them out of it.

Paradox's avatar

@poofandmook I’m not saying I don’t agree with teaching kids to stand up for themselves. I am responding to many who believe the emphasis on bullying has been overrated. Yes I have found that in the real world you have to eventually stand up to people. I just think we need to be careful not to start villifying people/kids for being victims of bullying at the same time.

klutzaroo's avatar

The only difference is the big deal being made of it and the fact that technology makes it easier for kids to bully others.

Dr_Dredd's avatar

@klutzaroo In some ways, it also makes it easier to fight back. I thought this story was pretty cool.

klutzaroo's avatar

@Dr_Dredd Actually, I read the blog post on this before CNN picked it up.

mindful's avatar

I am not sure if this is new ( I hadn’t really paid much attention to bullying until it became popular in the news recently) but this is how I find things different today as compared to simple name calling and physical abuse.

Today, bullying is more of back-stabbing friends, manipulating, omitting the truth, lying, verbal abuse, stalking, rumor-spreading, mind games, denying ( “I don’t know what you are talking about”) and lots of implying. These “bullys” are popular among other students and will get decent to good grades and go off to college (they do study however cheating is prominent). There activities are known among a circle of kids and are mostly aided by group of these kids in their activities against a target. It can end up as everyone in the social environment of the target versus the target. It is also possible for the target to get manipulated and end up doing actions that can be seen as incriminating. If trying to report the bullying, its possible for the victim to sound crazy as a common counter argument is that the victim is assuming and wrongly deciphering the implications, gestures and other non verbal hostility displayed especially if the bullys seem to have a better social status than them (popularity, better grades etc, support/familiarity with teachers)

Basically its a “White-Collar” bullying system. Sometimes its hard to take notice of the dirt in it by observing it from the outside.

Its basically more subtle and vicious.

Odysseus's avatar

I don’t think bullying is any worse now than it ever has been, Its nasty but I do believe that its an essential part of human nature and ultimately evolution.

I would not be surprised if all the government sponsored programs in the past decade or so that demonise bullying are merely an attempt at social conditioning. (with the goal of ‘keeping people in their place’)

I have both been bullied and been the bully, its part of the social hierarchy, the smartest and/or strongest go higher in the Pecking Order

Odysseus's avatar

Regarding government sponsored anti bulling campaigns It is plausible that they are trying to abolish the linear dominance hierarchy of human nature in favour of the despotic dominance hierarchy .

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