Bullying is in the news everywhere these days. I see friends on Facebook posting notifications about meetings at schools. Last week at Eve's school, they held a Community Meeting to talk about the rash of recent suicides by teens who suffered at the hands of their peers. Do an Internet search of blog posts on bullying and the results will overwhelm you.
The thing is, bullying is not a new phenomenon. It has evolved with our culture and stretched its skinny fingers into cyberspace where it is easier to hide, but it isn't new. Nor does it stop when we leave school.
Driving home from dropping Eve and Lola at school this morning, I was listening to NPR. Steve Inskeep was talking to Tina Brown of "The Daily Beast" and she was recommending her favorite stories to listeners. One that struck me was this article in the NY Times about women in Afghanistan setting themselves on fire to escape abusive marriages. Such instances are not isolated. Women all over the world resort to desperate acts with the tools they have available when they are faced with a lack of options. This is not any different from a gay teen committing suicide in order to escape ridicule by his or her peers.
When I began to see bullying in this light, I noticed it everywhere. Any time a situation exists where one person has power over another, bullying can happen. When there is a group of people who exploit that power for their own personal gain, even if it is for entertainment, and isolate their victim from others, desperation occurs. While our survival instincts are strong, it is often more tempting to end our own suffering and, when we have few avenues to achieve that, suicide becomes an attractive option.
Before we can begin to address the issue of bullying in schools, I believe that we need to identify all of the ways in which we as adults engage in similar behaviors. We need to come to terms with the fact that there are so many times when we are guilty of the same kinds of acts that abhor in our children's lives and fundamentally change the way we view and use power in our lives.
Can you think of some other examples of adult bullying behaviors in the world?