I've always had deep feelings of disapproval and sometimes outright dislike of anyone who bullied. Be it the child who snatches toys from other children, or any adult who issues personal demands like a drill sergeant.
My list also includes any boss or person in charge who will not listen to reason. His or her decisions are based on personal needs or a specific agenda. Just because a person is older, louder, or simply rude does not give him or her the inalienable right to be a bully.
We've all been around the aforementioned types. On the bottom rung of the bullying ladder are people who bully kids or animals. I think they get a real bang out of being in control. This control can take on many forms. What we see on any given day could be physical, mental, or emotional abuse. And yes, it is abuse folks. No matter how you justify it, explain it, condone it, or exhibit it, bullying is abuse.
My son used to watch Mr. Roberts (he would not be happy to know I told this). It was a great show for kids. No violence, no curses, good role models. Just a reasonably simple show with a complex, well thought out goal. That goal was to entertain kids and expose them to kindness and goodness ... they succeeded admirably. More of these shows would be appreciated by today's parents. Kids today often do not see many kindnesses in a day's time. Adding some warm fuzzies might accomplish some good.
A flashback to my school days ... I rode a bus to the new elementary school ... the year was 1956 and Linton's new school opened ... I was in third grade. Back then I was shy, didn't complain much, and said very little (How things have changed).
Our bus driver was a mom and pop grocery store owner. With a bus full of kids, just getting them to school and back safely was a major accomplishment. I specifically remember a not so nice young lady. She always insisted on sitting on the aisle of the bus. She would demand that the already sitting kid "SCOOT OVER." Everyone was a bit afraid of her. On this particular day, she decided to pick on me. She marched up to my seat and shouted her command. Well, I was skinny and a pushover, but on this day I took a stand. I scooted over against the side of the bus, stuck out my spindly legs and over-sized feet. When she sat down I planted my feet and gave a big push. This school bus bully landed on her backside with a bang. She jumped up, glared at me with death in her eyes, then walked to another seat. I never had another problem with her.
No, this was probably not the best way to deal with an aggressive person. However, it gave me a measure of confidence to know that I had dealt with her the best way I could at that moment. As I went through school, I really wasn't bullied much. I was one of the lucky ones. I kept a low profile as kids go. No one had any reason to bully me. Later, I found that by being kind to other kids as much as possible, bullying just wasn't an issue. Not that I didn't get in trouble for some of my actions. I was just a normal kid in school trying to get along. It worked for me.
That was then, this is now. Bullying has escalated to physically harming and oftentimes murder. I don't know about you, but I guess the best way to say it is I'm aghast at what's happening. Times should change for the better. We're not seeing the better as people deal with their relationships with other people.
What we see today appears to be an over-stimulation of youngsters and an almost complete absence of accountability. You may blame it on a lot of things ... poor parenting, violence in movies, music, and games, "the times" ... could be a combination of all of this. There is no quick cure. We do need to deal with it on every level ... from pre-school through adulthood. The approach must be multi-faceted and many tiered. No one approach will work.
If society wants to eradicate bullying, let's begin at the beginning. When a child is born, we have a chance to direct that individual in the right direction ... to educate and role model correct, acceptable behavior. This will take the whole tribe to manage the trip. Perhaps with a new generation may come the eradication of the bullying epidemic.
Tawni is a former teacher at Linton-Stockton Elementary School. She can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org .