Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Bullying Conundrum

Bullying - specifically school bullying - is not a new problem. I would venture to say that there has been bullying going on in school probably since the first time primitive man put a few rocks around a cave wall and started making drawings to demonstrate to the young'uns the proper method of making an arrow head from a sharpened rock and the proper methods for filleting a mastodon. Heaven knows Hollywood has made enough films about school bullies in school to fill a library.

It certainly was an issue when I went to school in the 70s. I was lucky in that I managed to not fall on either the side of the bullyers or the bullyees. I found that magic groove in the middle and managed to stay there for most of my years in the halls of education. This is not to say that I somehow got through twelve years of the system without incident...none of us probably did. But for the most part, I kept my sanity and steered clear of the ever-deadly "niche" mentality.

So here's what I don't get: how is it that all of a sudden, bullying is now front-page news? Shouldn't it have been front page news all along? The part of this that is annoying me is how the news outlets on TV and in the print media are treating it like it's some sort of new 21st-century phenomena. Not only that, there's a level of phony-baloney "shock" behind it all, an air of "How can this happen?" behind it all.

Not that this should be a big surprise, the the mainstream media (in all its' monolithic splendor) has made a wonderful habit of being a few days late and several dollars short. It's unfortunate that it takes a few suicides to get these guys to wake up and see what's going on. This isn't the first time, either. Whenever a bullying-related tragedy happens, we get the same song and dance, like it's somehow some big secret society that no one knew was going on. Please.

Sadly, it will be the same thing again this time. When the hysteria calms down, the media will shift gears towards the other shock stories du jour, and bullying will be put back on the back burner until it happens again (for the first time that we never knew it was going on, etc.). Eventually schools will ease up, too and things will return back to the way they were before the media picked up on it and everyone shared Facebook status updates about it.

The only way bullying will ever become a thing of the past is if schools do what they should have done since Day One: take a zero tolerance policy. You bully a kid? you're out on your ass. No suspension, no reprimand, out. Period. In fact, they should have special schools where all the expelled bullies can be sent to and pick each other off in grand, 'Lord of the Flies' fashion while taking forced anger management classes ('A Clockwork Orange' style).

Until then, then same sad cycle will keep repeating itself...news ratings or no.

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