I occasionally have the need to jump up on my soapbox and express a few thoughts. Even worse now that my radio station of choice for my daily commutes is CBC. (I realized that sentence has just stopped 95% of the readers of this in their tracks and they are back to look at status updates.)
For those still reading, I was enjoying an interview this morning with three high school students and their commitment to the Anti-Bullying campaign. Of course I am very happy of the overall awareness that Anti-Bullying has found in our schools.T- Shirts, Rallies, Posters, Empowered Educators, Peer Groups.. All something that is long overdue, and certainly effective. So.... I trust that any comments below are not in any way controversial.
Growing up in an environment that bullying was not even really a word, it was more of a regular school routine, and I’m sure a lot of blank looks would result from educators, administrators, and god forbid peers with the mere mention of being mentally or physically tortured during and after the school day. Lunch hours, recesses, bus waits were more a game of hide and seek from those handing about this abuse. And not going to school, or feigning illness, I bet, were more often a result of trying to avoid this abuse than it was to try to avoid a test or handing in homework. But I am sure we are all aware of these going on from K-12.
So now in the new world of Anti-Bully and the great steps being taken, what on earth is there to write about other than a congratulatory note? It struck me as they interviewed these three high school students on CBC, and my contact with people that Bullying still exists.
My observation, or interpretation of more than just this one interview.. is that a lot of the peer organizing groups are high in percentage of victims of this situation themselves. And educators and guidance counsellors and even parents are outside of the true culture of teens. In the mind of a bully, will they stop their behaviour towards a victim, because a teacher does not condone it? Will they stop because a group of their victims protest? I am sure the teenage mentality has not changed THAT much since I was in school. I reiterate – these programs are all critical, and proving to be somewhat effective.
A complete vanishing of Bullying.. Never I am sure.. the world remains full of insecure, low IQ, self worthless teens that can only find acceptance by being a bully.. so possibly addressing these mental deficiencies within them will find some effectiveness. Finding groups of teens that have confidence, self worth, and social skills to get behind this effort I see is critical.. so who are these untapped anti-bullying resources?
Athletes, Team Athletes. Hockey, Football, Baseball, Soccer, etc.. Yeah sure, get the Jocks to fix bullying. And yes, I expect that some of these jocks may be perpetrators as well. But a commitment from coaches, and buy in from the athletes..might just begin to turn the tide that a weak minded Bully, may begin to see that an attempt to build their own self esteem by taking someone else’s, will find them self on an island.. Alienated from all peers.. it would not take to many incidences to a soft brained teen to bully, then see that it only lowers his “status” in school pecking order.
Victims, in addition to reporting abuse to peer groups, administrators etc.. are directly supported by the Athletic Community.. I have been involved in enough team sports to KNOW that the brother/sisterhood within a athletic group is a strong tie, and to be able to direct that significant bond towards a non-athletic goal would be very successful.
Up on my soapbox here, I am not educated enough to know the stats on what percentage of kids are bullied, are out how many out of a thousand have to suffer through this. And I don’t know the number of kids that are in athletic teams.. But I can only guess that working to align a student afraid to go to school with a group of kids that have a strongly developed peer support system in place (a team is not a team without this necessary support system) seems a natural fit.
It would not take long for a bully who is abusing a teen with this large peer support group, to be brought out in the open, and publicly be put under scrutiny of a significant group of peers. I doubt the bully would find much personal reward in this alienation. And maybe find this further blow to their already weak minds, not worth it, and prefer not to bully any further.