Bullying is real. It’s also really exaggerated. Somehow collective “wisdom” has decided that any time one person is mean to another it’s bullying. That’s not bullying; that’s being a jerk. People have been jerks since Adam and Eve got a hankering for fresh fruit.
Bullying is more than simply an insult or a fistfight. It is the consistent or systematic targeted abuse of someone vulnerable by someone (or someones) stronger. A bully is the guy who always steals lunch money from the same kid or the group of girls who decide to start an online smear campaign of a classmate by spreading rumors and posting embarrassing photos.
What we call bullying is a monster of our own making. We call every mean person a “bully.” My kids would be horrified by my casual use of the word bully; to them it’s like a curse word (three cheers for public schools). We make bogeymen and misfits out of so-called bullies. They wear the scarlet letter and are marked by the black spot. It is horrifying and shameful; they must be dealt with!
Sometime back we forgot that conflicts are to be resolved, matters settled. Instead, the bullying mantra creates a division by labeling one person as evil and the other as victim. No longer can the “victim” stand up for him or herself with voice or fists. One child can’t pop a bully to defend another. Just as bullying is the bogeyman, confrontation is the Black Death. And so there isn’t any resolution.
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