So I read this article (based on this blog post) today. To sum it up: let’s stop coddling our kids so much and blowing normal experiences all out of proportion.

A discussion in the comments about bullying captured my attention. The arguments ranged back and forth from:

“There is nothing normal about bullying[….] Words do hurt, if that weren’t the case then there wouldn’t be so many bullies”

to:

“This world is raising a bunch of sissies”

with a moderate voice chiming in every now and again:

“…one must always remember that there is a fine line between bullying and kids being kids and getting angry and calling a peer a name”

But is it possible that we are missing the forest for the trees? Why is bullying a given?

I added my thoughts in the comments, but as soon as I hit “Reply” I knew all my time and effort were just being sucked into the ether. So I am going to post my own response here for posterity:

How come we always talk about bullying in terms of adult intervention and victim assistance, and not in terms of eliminating the environment that creates bullying? What about the bullies themselves? Is it possible to avoid going down that road altogether rather than waiting for the bully to emerge?

Is it possible that the schools themselves are the anti-social environment that creates bullies?

Now I know my personal experiences are not representative of the entire population. But since my anecdotes are also backed up by a growing collection of studies, I will use them to illustrate this discussion.*

I went to a private school that had only 60 kids in grades K-8. Targeted bullying was rare (where one kid or group of kids regularly tortured another kid). We all had friends that were older or younger. 4th grade girls would “adopt” 1st grade girls. Looking back, it seems I was a rather clumsy girl, with tom-boy clothes, shaggy hair, and crazy teeth. But I never knew it. I went to the pretty girls’ birthday parties and they came to mine. (What choice did they have — there were 5 girls in our whole class?!) I grew out of my awkward phase into a smart, strong, confident person never knowing that I could have been an outcast if I had attended the school next door.

I can’t afford to send my kids to a small, private school, so I homeschool them. We are part of a few different homeschool groups and I have yet to witness or hear about a case of bullying. In my co-op, the older kids have responsibilities assisting the parents/instructors (a few even teach their own classes). They learn to look after and care for the younger kids. We only have about 50 kids in grades K-12, so even the awkward boy is welcome to join in when the “cooler” kids are playing a pick-up game after classes.

So perhaps we can eliminate bullying by eliminating the the unnatural social environment found in our schools. If your are the type that likes to read practical solutions, and not just the complaining, then please feel free to check out my ideas here (scroll to the bottom to read in order): https://heat4212.wordpress.com/category/school-reform/

*HSLDA is, arguably, biased towards homeschooling, but they cite about 10 studies in the footnotes of this article that are not: http://www.hslda.org/docs/nche/000000/00000068.asp

On a side-note, some adult created this graphic to describe a child. Who’s the bully now?

Image

 

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