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News Flash: Bullying Hurts Kids!

According to Reuters News, those fabulous Researchers have done it again. They have proved -- statistically! -- that, yes, Virginia, kids get bullied in school and that this may have "serious mental health consequences."

To which the huddled masses here in Ancient Armenia respond with a resounding "DUH!"

The huddled masses of Ancient Armenia had all of this figured out twenty years ago. Kids bully each other. Bullying is abuse. Abuse causes "serious mental health consequences." "Serious mental health consequences" is researcher-speak for "the severe fuckup of one's life," and can be physically as well as mentally devastating (as if mentally devastating wasn't bad enough). How nice of the Researchers to figure this out now. And how wonderful that it's made The News.

I'm sorry, but for decades now, kids have been trying to tell people what these Researchers have apparently just figured out. Kids are being hurt, sometimes severely. And the traditional adult responses have included such gems as:

"They're just jealous."
"Boys will be boys."
"Rub a little dirt on it."
"Don't let the bastards get you down."
"What, you can't take a little teasing? What kind of wuss are you?"
"There's nothing we can do about it."

And my personal favorite:
"These are the best years of your life."

Well, no, asshole grownup. They're not the best years of one's life. If someone is abusing you, those are the worst years of one's life. When just showing up at school is a trial, when going out into the hallway means that you run the risk of being assaulted, when just walking down the street means that you risk having rocks thrown at you or dog shit smeared on you, that does damage. It's the kind of damage that festers and eats away at your mind and your soul. It's the kind of damage that kills people sometimes. And the most well-intentioned of grownups just brush off the abuse that causes it, because the people doing the abusing are other kids.

Maybe it's an effect of grownups not taking kids seriously. "Oh, they're just kids, they don't have the power to really hurt anyone." Wrong. Abuse is abuse, and bullying is just as much abuse as a parent blacking a kid's eye.

I'm torn. On the one hand, I'm glad that the Researchers are finally waking up to what really ought to be a universal truth. On the other hand, I'm pissed off that it took them this long to see what should be as plain as the noses on their faces.

Bullying hurts kids.

DUH.

Comments

sinneahtes
May. 12th, 2007 01:37 am (UTC)
I followed the link from stephantasy...

Great post! It's especially interesting to me, as I've seen two mothers on my flist post about bullying over the past couple of days--one of them is the mother of a kid who actually did the bullying (she let him know she did not find it acceptable, and the kid actually feels sorry for what he did--so yeah, I think it does help for adults to face bullies head on (or at least for the parents of bullies to realize that their child is not a special snowflake who is utterly incapable of being a bully)), and another had to call the local police's anti-bullying hotline because a bully kicked her kid in the back at the top of a stairwell to try and make her fall down the steps, and the principal just said the bully has "learning issues" and actually started to walk away as she was talking to him about it.

How messed up is it that a school principal of all people has to get a call from the police before he does the slightest thing about a known bully who could have seriously harmed another kid?

(On a sort of side note, it sounded like this principal had some issues with sexism as well--nothing a woman says is important enough to be listened to, apparently... but that reminds me that people stereotype women and girls (and perhaps kids in general? Not sure) as being too emotional or sensitive for their own goods, which causes them to dismiss the victim rather than take the real issue seriously...)

And those quotes people tell bullied kids makes me see red. They go beyond just dismissing the victim and into enablement territory. "Boys will be boys"--I can't be the only one who believes that's true when people cling to the ridiculous idea that boys are supposed to be jerks, and never try to teach them otherwise?

(And yeah, I'm also wondering why it's such shocking news to anyone that bullying is bad. How many people who were bullied as kids honestly forget that it hurt? Or is it seen as a sign of weakness to admit that that guy in 7th grade who grabbed your stuff and made you play Monkey in the Middle with it still haunts your mind sometimes?)

Er, sorry if that was a mess to read--this topic can make me rambly...
frenchpony
May. 12th, 2007 02:31 am (UTC)
Oh, I will have to go and look for those two posts, especially the one from the mother of the bully. That sounds like it'd be a good read.

One thing that's especially irritating -- I was looking at the Raven Days website today, and I was reminded that Researchers in the UK were already "discovering" the problem of bullying seven or eight years ago. That just makes me madder at the California Researchers, for not figuring it out sooner.

and the principal just said the bully has "learning issues" and actually started to walk away as she was talking to him about it.

"Learning issues" my aunt Fanny. Last I checked, the DSM-IV did not list "aggravated assault on other children" as a symptom of dyslexia.
sinneahtes
May. 12th, 2007 03:12 am (UTC)
They're mostly personal entries of the "Why does the world suck today?!" sort, and one from the mother of the kid who bullied another kid posted under friends lock. The other post is public--you can probably find it at my friends page over at my GreatestJournal (I'd give a direct link, but for some reason, I just don't feel comfortable with that idea)

I was reminded that Researchers in the UK were already "discovering" the problem of bullying seven or eight years ago.

Bwuh? That is annoying--and I know I remember a LOT of response to the Columbine shooting being "Look--bullying can really screw a kid up! There's therefore going to be zero tolerance for it!" (Even if that was more paranoia than "research findings.") That was also about seven or eight years ago, I believe...

"Learning issues" my aunt Fanny. Last I checked, the DSM-IV did not list "aggravated assault on other children" as a symptom of dyslexia.

Indeed--and even if it was, how does that make it okay for the behavior to continue! I'm certainly no psychology or education expert, but I thought people with disorders still had to learn as best as possible how to fit into the world around them (and if they were dangerous, be removed from where they could hurt people)...
frenchpony
May. 12th, 2007 03:21 am (UTC)
I did find the post from the mother of the kid who was bullied and whose principal wouldn't listen. This lady is made of awesome, and I told her that.

I know I remember a LOT of response to the Columbine shooting being "Look--bullying can really screw a kid up! There's therefore going to be zero tolerance for it!"

Yeah, I remember that, too. I remember that a lot of the "zero tolerance" turned out to be teachers telling kids to spy on each other and single out and report to The Office those kids who seemed odd or lonely. Yeah. Uh-huh. That's going to stop the abuse. Sure it will. Say, I have this bridge you might be interested in . . .
sinneahtes
May. 12th, 2007 03:48 am (UTC)
:)

Ha, that part of "zero tolerance" was fun (especially considering some of my friends and acquaintances wore black and/or trench coats, listened to the same sorts of music the shooters did, and were rather "weird" and bitterly cynical about the school and our classmates).

My school did try to embrace the whole "don't let bullies get away with bullying" thing, but it seemed like it was all talk... it was like bullies were fictional beings you saw only in cheesy after-school specials or something to them and nothing people did was really bullying.
frenchpony
May. 12th, 2007 04:16 am (UTC)
I have to admit, I did have a very secret sympathy for the school shooters. They did Bad Wrong, of course, but I could understand their motives, or at least a part of them.

My school didn't even try to pretend that it didn't let bullies get away with bullying. It just went for the "lock 'em up until they're fourteen and ship them off to the high school" approach.

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