On one of the writing forums that I frequent, a female member asked if the popular trope of men being at odds and fighting it out before become best friends is a real one. Quite a number of men chimed in—myself included—and we let her know that it’s unrealistic. As men, we seek out other men of like interests, and we meet our comrades doing things that we love. Violence is rarely a good cause and effect of positivity in a young person’s life. The friends that I fought in High School were already friends and the beat down to establish respect is a little different from our topic today, which is bullying and the misconceptions we have of it.
Coming up we have all witnessed bullying, and many of us remember sitting back tight-lipped about it wondering:
- Why doesn’t the kid just fight back and kick his ass?
- What is dude’s problem? Why does he constantly give the smaller kid so much grief?
Being that I am still a child at heart, I can recall the stigmas that came with stepping in to help a victim of bullying. Much of it dealt with programming, as a society we are/were programmed to mind our own business. Never snitch on someone else—even if you don’t know them. Don’t make any waves, stay as “normal” as possible … normality means that you fade into the crowd, and spectate.
Stepping in to help someone would get you in a lot of trouble, not limited to:
- Now you and the bully have a problem, so you’re fighting him all the time.
- You become the next target to be jumped after school by the bully’s followers.
- You and the bullied person have something going on; why else would you step in?
- Suspension, expulsion, and your clueless parents bringing the hammer to you for “fighting”.
- The original victim gets it even worse later on when you aren’t there to protect him/her.
In my opinion, change has to start from the community. The way that I remember High School is that it reminded me of a prison system. You have a group of people who have to be there, so naturally you get a segment of predators, a segment of toadies to follow the predators, and a handful of victims whose stay is a living hell. The rest of the populace do just enough to stay off of the radar.
The way many of us Gen Xers came up was under the “dust it off and knock him out” tutelage of our parents, but have you seen how High Schoolers get down nowadays? You don’t dust off a curb stomping by a psychopath with several of his droogs tagging in. Kids have gotten worse with the punishment, and now you have the added insult of it being recorded—so that you can be reminded of it later on.
Mob mentality has to become unpopular
This is why I think that one of the best ways to stop this activity is to stop people from being okay with it. One person stepping up to help a victim is weak, but if there are several people, or a massive crowd, then that bully is isolated as a threat.
We are so caught up in being a part that sometimes we don’t realize that what we are being a part of is the destruction of someone else. People laugh in concert when you get pushed down stairs; they form neat circles around gang beat downs, and they would rather record injustice than to help put an end to it. Please, teach your children to stop playing the part of the fame-seeking reporter and become a part of the solution!
Here’s a little video to remind you of the aftermath of letting kids be kids in our High School Prison System: