I was recently talking to a man about our book, Bully in the Barnyard, and he told me that he believed the whole “bullying stuff” is being overdone. I wasn’t sure what he meant, so I asked him to explain. With some bravado, he told me that he was bullied as a kid, and he turned out just fine. He said that proves that this “anti-bullying stuff” is just a fad and is worthless. To be honest, he didn’t use the word, “stuff”, but I won’t use the word he did. You get it. Of course, he added that we need to toughen our kids up because we are raising a “generation of sissies.” Yes, you’ve heard all this before.
I would agree that the term “bully” is sometimes overused, and that every unkind act is not bullying. But when does a normal kid who needs to learn some manners turn into a true bully? What line is crossed when one person’s behavior makes someone else feel small, insignificant, and worthless? And even worse, when does that feeling of insignificance lead to consequences that can’t be undone? And is there culpability?
My generation was told, “Sticks and stones can break your bones, but words can never hurt you.” We know better. Words do hurt. When I talk to kids about bullying we talk about how words may not change your outside, but the constant barrage of cruel words can leave what one child has described as “a scar on your heart.”
Yet that man insists that anti-bullying education is unimportant and a fad because he turned out fine. I know someone who had polio, and she turned out fine also. So according to the man’s logic, was the Salk vaccine a worthless fad?
Please weigh in on this. Is there too much talk about bullying, or are we finally dealing with a subject that has been a problem for far too long? Let’s get a conversation started.