June 14, 2012

Bully For You

Let's just get this established right off the bat: I don't approve of bullying. Bullying is bad. Bullying can have dire consequences. If any bullies are reading this, I scowl at you.

*bully scowl*

With all that said, I don't see much point to the nationwide fainting vapors evaporating from the collective heads of those Americans who take it upon themselves to worry about such things unnecessarily on behalf of the rest of us.

Call them "morality bullies," if you will.

What escapes me about the anti-bully bullies is their insistence that we need to "raise awareness" about bullying. I don't know about you, but I'm pretty aware of it. Even back in elementary school, when I pulled my head out of a toilet after a refreshing swirly, I remember thinking "Wow, I'm REALLY aware of this bullying!"

Okay, obviously, the Bullying Awareness Brigade (BAB) isn't targeting the bullied, because bullied people are typically uniquely aware of their bullied status. Rather, the BAB wants the rest of us to acknowledge bullying exists and to take steps to ameliorate the effects of bullying.

See, I just used the word "ameliorate" there to bully you with my extensive vocabulary.

*bully scowl at myself*

Anyway, the National Education Association (NEA), as part of its "Bully Free: It Starts With Me" initiative--which sounds like a campaign to set bullies everywhere free--recently released its "10 Steps to Stop and Prevent Bullying," and the language used therein reads like stereo instructions written and narrated by Al Gore.

"Step 1: Pay attention. There are many warning signs that may point to a bullying problem, such as unexplained injuries, lost or destroyed personal items, changes in eating habits, and avoidance of school or other social situations."

See? I mean, the same warning signs can also be found in the bestselling book: "How to Spot a Teenager." Come to think of it, when I shot myself in the foot with a B.B. gun at the age of 14, it would have been nice to have blamed bullying, rather than telling my father the embarrassing truth.

"Step 2: Never assume that a situation is harmless teasing. . . Whenever a student feels threatened in any way, take it seriously, and assure the student that you are there for them and will help."

Threatened in "any way?" Like, during a pop quiz, or when showering naked after gym class for the first time, or when my 5th grade teacher threw me into a wall after digging her nails into my wrist until she drew blood, or. . . you know what? Maybe I'm projecting a bit here.

"Step 3: When you see something – do something. Intervene as soon as you even think there may be a problem between students."

"As soon as you EVEN THINK there may be a problem?" That leaves the door kind of wide open to interpretation. If New York City Mayor Bloomberg sees a child hand another child a soft drink, he may actually consider that an act of bullying rather than sharing. Think about it. Or don't.

The list just goes on and on like that, but the general gist is to ultimately take bullying gravely seriously, but then deal with the problem with the kind of glacial speed and bureaucratic hop-scotch we've come to expect from, say, the United Nations when it comes to issuing meaningless and endless sanctions and official finger-waggling proclamations against countries that are busy exterminating their citizens.

The NEA list has other problems, not the least of which being its primary focus on physical bullying--the HULK SMASH! sort of bullying where LARGE KID A picks on SMALL KID B--but there's precious little advice about how to deal with "cyber bullying," which takes place on Planet Internet.

Now, myself, I'm an Internet veteran. I was enduring and laughing at the impotent rage of anonymous Internet commenters way before YouTube comments brought down the worldwide I.Q. by roughly 26 points. So, I recognize cyber bullying as mostly an exercise in creative name-calling and general insults in lieu of actual. . . thought.

However, I can totally understand how a young person would feel upon encountering the world of cyber bullying for the first time and taking it far more seriously than they should--which is to say they shouldn't take it seriously at all. The Internet is chock full of bullying jerks who would never say or do the things they advocate online out in Planet Reality. If they did, they'd most likely end up with a broken nose and month-long limp.

So, if I may offer up two points of advice for dealing with physical and cyber bullying. In the case of physical bullying, learn jiu-jitsu, because nothing ends a swirly-in-progress like a reverse heel hook or triangle choke. In the case of cyber bullying, learn to type LOL or ROTFLMAO or TL;DR in response to any insult or negative comment because, really, Internet bullies aren't worth much more than that.

*bully scowl*

Posted by Ryan at June 14, 2012 01:30 PM | TrackBack
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