In recent years, a new and disturbing phenomenon has been discovered among America’s youth. This strange new trend, led by a small but relentless minority of “squeaky wheels,” is a reaction to what until now was considered a perfect normal part of growing up. This experience, referred to as “bullying” by these “activists,” is, apparently (in their words, not ours), the exploitation of a lower-status child by a higher-status child through repeated and unrelenting emotional, physical, and psychological torments. Why these complainers seem to think that it’s better to protect our children from the “real world” than have them face it at as early an age as possible is unknown to school administrators, but to be sure, the “anti-bullying” crazy has spread across the country, from small town to big city to rural schoolhouse, and it’s high time we address these issues head-on.
What has caused a sudden concern about “bullying” is unclear — in fact, such complaints seem completely without precedent in the history of civilization, throughout which those with less power have primarily (with the exception of a few major social and political revolutions) accepted their lower status and the exploitation it naturally resulted in. Suddenly, however, parents of weak and whimpering children have begun to find the negative attention (the operative word here being “attention”) shown them by their genetically, socially, or otherwise superior peers unacceptable and untenable. And so, as educators, it has fallen on us to be the first line of defense in protecting the “bullies” (as they are now called) from such accusations and their harmful side effects.
Whereas such power-imbalanced relationships used to simply be categorized among the various types of healthy and normal friendships experienced by children, it seems that the disenfranchised members of such partnerships are no longer interested in participating in them, despite the very real benefits of the relationship, such as attention from someone cooler and stronger than you, and a series of challenging encounters that build mental and physical toughness.
Here are some signs that a person is feeling “bullied” (according to them and their entirely subjective experience which, while we may find it silly and overactive, we must take seriously if we are to be proper mediators and advocates in such encounters):
- Complains when picked last in sports despite clear physical deficiencies.
- Interprets physical violence, taunting, jeering, etc. from peers as “aggressive” rather than “just the kick in the pants they need to stop feeling sorry for themselves.”
- Insists the “bully” is “not his friend” even when it is pointed out that they “sure do spend a lot of time together for people who aren’t friends, Andrew.”
Apparently the “bullied” (again, their term, not ours) have decided that the “mental anguish” they withstand at the hand of the “bully” is “too much” for their “tender constitution”, and wish to actively disengage from the “bullying” relationship. Therefore, regardless of the level of seriousness with which you as the educator might take these claims (which in some cases will be not seriously at all), it’s important that you act on them, both to cover your own ass and to protect the bully from his accuser. After all, today’s bully may very likely be tomorrow’s CEO, President of the United States, or middle-school gym coach.
Disengaging the bully from his source of power, however, can leave him (a side note: science has proven that bullies are always male and that girls who engage in behavior that exploits the power structure are simply “Queen Bees” and do not pose a serious threat to anyone but uncoordinated girls who can’t seriously think they have a shot at making the cheerleading squad) with little outlet for his natural and biologically imperative rage, requiring educators to find other healthy outlets for the bully’s very real physiological needs.
Helping a bully find new and less-complained-about outlets for his intensity is a task that hitherto will fall on the educator. Some possible activities include:
- Working in the school locker room, which builds character while allowing the bully a controlled environment in which to judge (and, with supervision), gently taunt or physically intimidate students weaker than him.
- Building a deck for an attractive young divorced neighborhood mom. Sometimes a young boy turns to bullying because he is too strong, mature, and handsome to relate to his peers. Getting attention from a sad but beautiful woman who hasn’t felt a man’s touch in months if not years can often be the self-esteem boost the bully needs to feel the love and affection he may never have experienced from his mother.
- Learning to dance, perhaps for the school talent show, preferably in secret, which burns off excess energy, takes up unstructured time, and, in the end, gives peers an opportunity to see the bully in a “new light,” perhaps making them realize that it was really society’s fault — and by extension theirs — for not seeing the true, gentle soul of the bully underneath all that violent anger.
Remember, your role as an educator is to maintain a healthy learning environment for all your students, especially the stronger alphas without whose support your authority might be completely nullified. Providing the “victims” with a real sense that you are attending to the (perceived) problem while maintaining your unspoken alliance with the strongest of their peers will help teach everyone an important lesson about where they fall in the power structure, and what they can expect from the unforgiving world outside of these hallowed halls. Thank you in advance for your attention to this very “real” and “serious” issue, and for all that you do to help turn our students into productive and compliant members of our predetermined social hierarchy.