Kids bullying other kids has become the problem of the day for many in our society. Let’s pass some laws, adopt policies, punishments, discover medications, initiate interrogations and psychological profiles to deal with it. You’d think bullying just reared its head in the new millennium. I’ve got a couple of news flashes for you.
It is nothing new. Being bullied is not a bad thing but attempting to shield your children from it is NOT a good thing. We don’t need laws. We need parents and teachers with the intestinal fortitude to let nature take its course.
I’m sure cave kids bonked smaller cave kids on the head with rocks and made fun of their loin cloths centuries ago. The cave daddies and mommies let the youngsters duke it out and the problem eventually worked itself out. We could learn from our distant unibrowed cousins.
One of our favorite Christmas flicks is “A Christmas Story”. In it the star, Ralphie, who is bullied by Farkus for many years finally stands up to the young thug. After Ralphie gets punched a bit he decides enough is enough and pounds the villain and sends him running and crying like a baby. In an Episode of “The Andy Griffith Show” young Opie, the victim of bullying, has the same kind of experience.
In both of these fictional (although very realistic) cases, the “victim” is no longer tortured, has a huge self-esteem injection, learns not to take that kind of garbage from anybody in life, finds out they can handle it on their own and declaws the bullies who grow up to become child psychologists in all likelihood.
That’s the natural course of events. It’s part of growing up. The experience is one we could all use, truth be told. When you attempt to shelter, coddle or in any other way protect or mediate for your young victim you’re teaching them there will be always be someone there to help (NOT) and robbing them of the chance to learn to take care of themselves.
We’ve all seen and heard of the youngsters who either isolate themselves completely and end up committing some violent, horrific act or take their own lives as a result, many think, of being bullied. I am NOT a psychologist but I’d be willing to bet that in most of these cases, their actions are not a result of the bullying but rather the sheltering from having to ever deal with the issue for themselves; leaving them feeling impotent and like they can handle those situations in life.
I’ve shared this story before but it’s worth another look. When I was in eighth grade I was attacked after school by another Mike for drinking out of “his” water fountain. He was one of those teens who had failed 4 grades and was old enough to get his license in elementary school.
I was shaking in my boots and were it not for a priest in that Catholic grade school who saw it, I’d probably still feel like a “victim” today. He didn’t call the police, our parents or a Congressman. He took us both by the ears to the back of the school and had us fight it out. We did. I didn’t “win” but I inflicted enough pain on Mike that he never bothered me again. And I always stood my ground from that day forward. If that were today, lawsuits would be flying, psychologists testifying and SWAT teams positioned at the school for weeks.
No, laws are not the way to deal with bullies and it’s not the role of parents or teachers to protect kids (of course unless the bullying crosses the line). Nature needs to take its course and all involved will be better for it. In fact I bet “Mike” will feel better if he’s reading this in his prison cell right now!
Mike Scinto is a 37 year veteran talk show host serving locally, statewide and nationally behind the microphone. For the past dozen years he has authored this award-winning column. “Friend” Mike at www.facebook.com/mikescintoshow or visit http://mikescintocolumns.blogspot.com.