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Monday, October 15, 2012

Bullying is Human... Unfortunately

Good or bad, I think everyone has bullied and been bullied at some point in their life.

I think if any of us could turn back the hands of time, few of us would want to go back to grade 9.  Over the past few days there has been alot of discussion about Amanda Todd, the girl who committed suicide over being bullied.

While I think it is unfortunate that anyone at any age feels suicide is the only way out, I don't think any level of legislation is going to stop people from bullying each other.

Look at the definition of bullying:

a blustering, quarrelsome, overbearing person who habitually badgers and intimidates smaller or weaker people.

Based on this definition, my last blog on the mayor of Toronto could be considered bullying.  And not to defend myself, but how many people in Toronto have not said anything negative about the man?

Bullying, like fighting, is a primitive way of moving yourself up the social ladder - by putting someone down, you feel above them.

It moves us up the social ladder because (perhaps subconsciously) as a group, humans support bullying to a strong extent.

Think I'm off the mark with this statement?

Think of the success of:

- Insult comics
- Movies depicting 'dumb people'
- Celebrity Roasts
- Tabloids critiquing celebrities
- Politicians badmouthing each other debating

I'm not going to suggest that all of the above be banned or removed from the public eye... it wouldn't happen.  So legislating anti-bullying won't work either... sorry NDP.

So how do we support our youth?

It may not be able to be done solely in the classroom, but at some point we need to start teaching resilience (click here for 14 ways!).

It's not going to be easy, but it has been proven effective.

Sometimes 'ignoring' bullies is not enough - you have to stand up against them.  Sometimes, we need to help victims take a stand.

Was I bullied when I was young? Yes, I'm human.

Did I eventually learn to be resilient.  I sure did...

Did my resilience mean I never got bullied again? No, but I know I am better than them!

How do we teach resilience?

One day at a time.  It is not teachers, or parents, or volunteers at after school programs - it is all of us.  In my opinion it is done best through not coddling kids but encouraging 3 things:

1. Positive self-image (earned, not given)
2. Independent decision-making (let your kids make choices for themselves from time-to-time)
3. Self development (through sport, music, or other active hobby)

Maybe I'm wrong, it's happened once before, but I don't see bullying ever not existing - that is why we need to prepare people to stand up for their individuality.

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