Maybe. Possibly. It’s likely, is all I’m saying.
Recently, the powers that be at our school were made aware of some cyberbullying that was taking place amongst our sixth grade girls. From what I’m told, it was pretty vicious. A meeting took place with the administration, the counselors, and the sixth grade girls. Conversations were had. I was not there. I did, however, hear from an adult who was present that there was a point in which one of the girls made an astute observation and raised a question along the lines of, “but isn’t that what we do to celebrities?”
Touche, young grasshopper. Touche.
Yes, this is what we do to celebrities. Every day. All you have to do is turn on the “news” or skim the tabloids in the checkout aisle at the supermarket to realize that we do do this to celebrities. We spread gossip, we say negative things about them, we pick on them for who they’re dating, the clothes they wear, what they look like. And it’s not limited to “news” headlines. Tweets, Facebook posts, blog comments… it’s everywhere. There are entire shows dedicated to slamming celebrities. But it’s okay, right? I mean, celebrities “deserve it”. You might even say they’re “asking for it” because they chose that career. And heck, it’s not like you even know them. It’s not like they’re ever going to read what you say about them, or hear what you say, so where’s the harm, right?
Except that it is harmful. Even to celebrities, and especially to sixth grade girls.
This harks back on a point I’ve tried to make during every bullying conversation I get dragged into. Kids learn it from somewhere, and until we figure out where, and curb that behavior, no anti-bullying campaign is ever going to end bullying. End of story. When we engage in bullying behavior towards anyone, it gives the message that it is okay to do. End of story.
The bullying epidemic isn’t going to be stopped by schools or teachers. Anti-bullying campaigns in schools aren’t going to end bullying. Heck, parents don’t even have the power to end it (as much as we teachers would like to place a lot of the blame on them). Society needs to end it. Until we clean up our act as a society, until we stop putting others down, until we stop reveling in the misfortune of others, bullying amongst school age children is going to continue to happen. We, as an adult society, are modeling for them how to do it, and we, as an adult society, need to clean up our act.
Unfortunately, the reality of it is, this problem may be too big and too widespread for us, as a society, to change. Media gives the people what they want, and the people want drama and trash and to feel better about themselves by looking down on others who may be more fortunate. I get that. Maybe we do need to work smaller. Maybe it does need to start in the home and in the schools. But not through an anti-bullying campaign, rather through the modeling of good, decent human behavior.
I consider myself to be a good, decent human being, but I’ve engaged in bullying behavior in the past. I bet there are very few of us who can say that we never have. I’ll tell you what though, I’m going to try my hardest to make sure that my daughter never hears me put down another human being, celebrity or not. She will never hear me make fun of someone else just so I can feel better about myself. I will do my best to teach her that cyberbullying, media bullying and play yard bullying (if that still exists) is wrong, regardless of who the target is.
But that’s just me, and this is just my two cents.