Beyond Blaming Kids for Bullying …
Addressing Systemic Bullying in Society
As we witness a seeming increase in fatal police shootings followed by demonstrations involving shootings of officers, it seems important now to honestly examine where this level of violence originates and the extent to which it reflects “bullying” as a prevailing core of our society.
This seems especially true upon witnessing the July 5, 2016 police shooting of Alton Sterling, 37, in Baton Rouge LA (pinned to the ground unable to move), followed the next day by a fatal police shooting in St. Paul MN of Philando Castile, 32 (at a traffic stop sitting in his car with his girlfriend as he reached for his wallet). Alas, these were followed on July 7th by a demonstration in Dallas wherein snipers killed five officers wounding six others, followed on July 17th by another in Baton Rouge at which three officers were killed and three wounded.
Indeed, where do we think children learn bullying and are continually reinforced in it?
Since this expression isn’t apparent in healthy newborns, as they lie in their mother’s arms softly gazing, where does it come from? Are we to claim it genetic … or learned? And if the latter, from where? And, if learned, can we really be blaming kids for bullying?
In these times as we readily witness bullying across society from parenting to schools, commerce, politics, policing, militarization and international relations, it is not difficult to see its constancy. Too, that all our systems are patriarchal. In fact we have patriarchal systems driving a context of commerce, politics and militarism that has fostered an unprecedented level of global malaise which could well “extinct” life on Earth in our own lifetime … certainly of our children and grandchildren!
Are we proud of this product of public education, commercialization and power? I’m not! For alas, we don’t educate for ‘healthy parenting’ any more than we educate teachers, administrators, or adults in these aspects of a healthier foundation of being.
Have we mis-taught the Real Three R’s?
Yes, we may have missed the boat with regard to the 3 Rs. Instead of Reading, ‘Riting and ‘Rithmetic we should perhaps consider the REAL 3 Rs of Life as … Relationship – since all life is relationship-in-action, Respect – given once we embrace the 1st R, we have “respect” for life, and Responsibility – noting from embracing the first two, we feel a measure of responsibility for life.
So what do we do now? How do we redirect multiple levels of a system so awry for centuries? INDEED, how do we wake up to soften a patriarchy so prolific it pervades nearly every aspect of life?
Assuredly not via its opposite (matriarchy) given Terry Kellogg, author of Broken Toys Broken Dreams, Family Matters et al quipped … “100 degrees opposite of sick is still sick!” This said, how DO we educate our children and parents for a paradigm shift of this nature … i.e. a “new way of being” via which new understandings raise a more aware, kind and collaborative generation of children and new leaders? Alas, a step of this magnitude requires unprecedented courage on the part of parents, educators and our entire social system.
At the core of this issue, we must recognize that “bullying is NOT merely a kid’s problem” – be it on the playground or in social media. It is OUR problem as parents, educators and adults across society at all levels. This is particularly true when we fail to recognize how the tone of our voice and what we say sends downward vertical messages to another signaling they are “wrong”, insufficient, not good enough, etc. Picture, if you would, someone shaking a finger in your face and note how it feels inside. Alas, kids get a daily bellyful of it in homes, schools, and society-at-large. It is time to end it, and public education should become responsible enough to avail its unique opportunity to serve this lifesaving difference in the world. So, again, one asks … “Can we rightfully be blaming kids for bullying?”
INDEED, upon noting that the two most potent aspects of a community suitably positioned to redirect this situation may well be: (1) public education and (2) community policing, it appears we have a unique opportunity to birth a model sufficient to foster a paradigm shift. Enhance ourselves here in pursuit of greater equality and peace … and the world may well follow.