Let’s define “Bullying”

Wednesday, November 6, 2013
posted by elizabeth @ 4:10 PM

Bullying is everywhere these days.  Throughout all news sources you will see a situation where the word “bully” has been interjected.  I do not believe that all situations call for the word bully.  And, I absolutely believe that calling all disharmonious situations “bullying” waters down the definition and dilutes what we should do to provide an appropriate environment for our children.   Serious bullying deserves attention.  The horrific situation that led to the death of Rebecca Sedwick earlier in September commands the conversation and labeling of bullying.

The 91-0 game does not.  You may have heard of the recent Aledo High versus Western Hills High football game where the score was 91-0, even after the Aledo coach put in his third string and kept the clock running.   The Aledo team didn’t even run many plays; they just happened to score on each one.   A dad on the losing team filed a formal Bully Complaint against the Aledo coach, Tim Buchanan.  By Texas state law, the Aledo Superintendent must investigate.  This is not a good use of time, money, or even guidance for either team of boys.  No one gains from this ridiculous investigation.

Mean kids are awful.  Bullying is awful.   I have some nasty memories of my own.  In 8th and 9th grade, some mean girls would call to say horrible things to me.  I’m pretty sure they did not go to my school, and to this day, I have no idea who they were.   Just super mean girls.    We changed our phone number, and they still tracked me down just to say mean things.  I can’t imagine how horrible the situation would have been if we had social media back in 1985.  

However, I feel strongly that bullying has become quite the buzz word, trending on trendy.   Bullying is drilled into children’s heads so superfluously, that the true meaning is becoming lost.   When kids disagree on the playground, you will hear the word “bully.”   When a girl is left out of a social circle, the word “bully” gets thrown around.   We are creating a culture of victims for our children.  We need to teach them to be strong and work out situations for themselves.  Again, let me emphasize that a situation bordering on violence or relentless harassment is unacceptable and must be addressed.   But, children being mean and exclusionary are a part of growing up and a part of life, even as adults.

Protectionism at all costs has gone so far that recently New Jersey passed a law creating “safety teams” and “anti-bullying coordinators,” mandated training for parents, and lengthy investigation processes.  In other states, including Texas, school policies encourage children to snitch on each other.   These policies are not teaching children to stand up for one another, but instead they are teaching a culture of totalitarianism.  Children are not being taught to resolve their own problems and stay strong, but to rely on yet more big brother intervention.  

These knee-jerk bullying policies can and many times extend to off-campus behaviors and social media, as well.  Where does this over-reaching authority end and my responsibility as a parent supersede?  A parent’s job is to teach appropriate behaviors, respect, and responsibility.    Tough, insolent experiences teach us valuable lessons about how to relate to others.  The world is filled with dissonance.  We cannot shield our children from it, nor should we want to do so.  We must teach strength, perseverance, and tenacity, and quit calling everyone a bully when we disagree.

-Elizabeth Biar

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