Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Bullying

He who fights against monsters must beware lest he become one himself - Nietzsche

It may sometimes be hard to define good, but evil has its unmistakable odor. Every child knows what pain is. Therefore, each time we deliberately inflict pain on another we know what we are doing. We are doing evil.- Amoz Oz


Studies show that children and adolescents who are victims of schoolyard bullying face an increased risk of developing depression, post-traumatic stress syndrome, and are at increased risk of schizophrenia according to one New Zealand study. Dr John Read from the University of Auckland presented research at a psychiatrists' conference in Canberra, showing there are similar changes in the brains of abused children and adult schizophrenics. He says his research shows up to 60 per cent of women with schizophrenia may have been abused as children.


Bullying is the most common form of violence in our society. Bullying behavior is behind all child abuse, domestic violence, workplace violence, hate crimes, and road rage. It travels from the strongest to the weakest and it does not dissolve into nothingness. Men bully their female partners, women bully children, older children bully younger children and younger children bully their pets leading to a "vortex of violence". Young children, who are at the bottom of this ladder absorb it, accumulate it and wait until they are strong enough to erupt. It is well documented that many violent criminals were victims of child abuse.

The same vulnerable feelings are felt in most bullying. Marilee Strong described her reaction to parental abuse in A Bright Red Scream: "In some ways, an abused child faces terror worse than anything a soldier experiences on the field of battle. She lives in a world of continual and unpredictable danger and may, with good reason, fear for her life. Yet she has no gun to protect her, no squad to back her up, no training for her combat role. She is completely alone, completely powerless, completely at the mercy of her parent's will, she cannot fight back, cannot escape. She is trapped."

Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold and many of the perpetrators of mass violence exemplify the incomprehensible injustice of retaliation against bullying by attacking innocents at random. Between 1992 and 1999 there were over 250 violent deaths in schools that involved multiple victims and in virtually every school shooting, bullying had been a factor. Deadly assaults do not occur from one brief encounter. Like other forms of child abuse, bullying pits a weak, single individual against a strong, dominating aggressive foe who chronically victimizes his/her prey. Many of the bullied are in survival mode of just getting through each day hoping they'll endure that day.

The bully or bullies dehumanize their victim and conduct a deliberate, hurtful, repeated assault on their prey's esteem. Charles "Andy" Williams who shot 15 people, killing two at Santana High School, Santee, California was constantly called "faggot" and "geek" at school. Bullies stole his cigarettes, wallet and skateboard repeatedly. His peers constantly ridiculed him. Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold who made Columbine infamous, were harassed, bullied and put down on a daily basis for years. Every day when Harris and Klebold came to school, they were met by a gauntlet of students that harassed them in the hallways and cafeteria and called them "dirt bags," "dirt balls," or "homos" and other names. They were also hassled by having orange juice poured on their trench coats so they would have to wear the sticky stuff all day. Frequently the football players would physically assault them by throwing a body block on them banging them into the lockers or the wall.

Everyone said we should fear the loners. Loner children should be protected precisely because they think differently and become our inventors, our artists, our lyricists, writers, poets, comedians and yes, sometimes our "nuts". Society benefits if only these children can live to adulthood without committing suicide or becoming mentally ill for loners live under constant stress as prime bully bait. The pressure to conform is enormous to teenagers. To witness the phenomenon, walk the halls of your high school and tell me you don't find the uniformity spooky. You, too, will feel like you have entered a cult because everyone dresses the same, combs their hair similarly and talks in the same clich├ęs. Naturally, any independent thinker, anyone who doesn't dress regulation, anyone you maintains a free identity will be made into an outcast. The hated students, unfortunately, have no choice on their outcast status, they have been sentenced by their peers to relentless ridicule. Classmates create a prison without walls and concur, "We have judged you and find you unfit for our society."


The social ostracism these students experienced forced them to seek help in some cases. The psychiatric community who basically rejects talk therapy in favor of psychotropic prescriptions brands the victim "chemically imbalanced" and promises that the proper dulling medication will help them adjust. Some would say that the aggressive bullies should have been referred for psychiatric evaluation but it was Harris who was prescribed Luvox, an antidepressant and Kip Kinkel, (who killed his parents and two students in Oregon) who was on Prozac. Just maybe we are medicating the wrong segment of society when cruelty is ignored or rewarded and victims have to have their brains altered.

Our society has a tendency to blame the victim for his troubles. I remember reading of a young German student who said the Jews were responsible for the holocaust because they allowed themselves to be victimized. We have made the term "victim mentality" a derogatory term and privileged people sneer at anyone who doesn't admit that he is to blame for his own troubles or asks the courts or government to provide redress. We don't decry the "bully mentality" for this society praises winning at all costs. Conformity is the golden rule of the bully mentality and "love it or leave it" is their prayer. Any laws passed to give any minority equal access to America are a threat to the bully mentality. Whenever minorities want handicapped access, anti-discrimination laws, or "hate crime" legislation, the bullies cry "foul" and claim the minority is getting extra advantage. The bullies ridicule fairness by mocking it as "politically correct" and not once admitting it is morally correct in a civilized society to protect the vulnerable from the cruel and the greedy.

2 Comments:

At 12:20 PM, Blogger DianaGeorgina said...

I stumbled across your blog and can't stop reading.
Diane

 
At 7:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

omg excellent post! It's SO enlightened. Thanks for your contribution.

 

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