Bullying: The Double Edged Sword
As I watched last night's Oscars, and read this morning's posts about the Oscars (and the horrible tweet about that adorable little girl by The Onion) there is one thing that came to my mind. Bullying really never stops, even outside of school. I read an article the other day, talking about the new findings of a study regarding what bullying (both being the bully and being bullied) does to a person's pysche and it's lasting effects. Of course, being bullied will leave a mark on your brain, it is something you can always remember, the pain of what it feels like to be ridiculed and victimized. Some of us know what that feels like more than others and some of us have gone through much more pain than others. However, all of us get bullied in our lives. ALL of us. Even the bullies get bullied. So, sometimes, when I see all of this talk about changing bullying, it makes me really feel like it is a hopeless cause, that bullying has and always will be a part of our society and our lives, and it does not stop on the playground at school.
It is always a question, whether you try and stop the bullying altogether or teach children how to handle it from a young age. Do you accept it as a truth, that there will always be a bully, whether it be that popular football player in high school or that charistmatic writer on the Oscar stage? Do you deal with it as an inevitability that at one point or another, in your life, it will happen to you, so better to be equipped now? I, for one, feel as though protecting your children from any harm, whether it be from not allowing them to swing on the swingset for fear of physical harm or protecting them from bullying and mental harm is a double-edged sword. On one hand, you hate that they are hurting, but on the other, setting them up as children to handle and overcome pain and disappointment will allow them to be adaptable adults. So, is bullying acceptable? No, absolutely not. Does that stop it from being a presence in our society? Absolutely not.
Using the Oscars as an example, do you know how many articles and video feeds I have seen this morning, showing Jennifer Lawrence's fall? Someone with less of a sense of humor and backbone could really allow that moment, embarassing moment for that matter, to bring her down. We all know Jennifer Lawrence is a tough little cookie. And we all know there are worse places to take a tumble than walking up on stage to collect the highly coveted honor of Academy Award. But how many of us have had a desperate and anxiety ridden conversation in our head before a big event, graduation, school play, work presentation, you name it, repeating this phrase in our head "Please don't trip and fall, please don't trip and fall..." and the reason we do this to ourselves is because we do not want to be embarassed and ridiculed by our peers. This never stops, never. Not into adulthood, not even as a successful actress.
Bullying is the theme of many a Hollywood story line. Take, for example, the film franchise Back to the Future. Each of those movies had Biff, the school bully, as the central story line, just in different times throughout history. And each time, Marty McFly overcomes and saves the day, each time learning more about himself and his ability to win. Is it best to be bullied and overcome or never to be bullied at all? I do not know the answer to that question. But I would venture a guess that the most successful people throughout history overcame some sort of bullying in their lives, and from that came tenacity to acheive their goals. It breaks my heart to think my daughter will go through bullying in her life. But it would break my heart even more to see her go through her young life with nary a speedbump then become an adult incapable of fending for herself and perservering.
With that said, as a mother, I am not sure how I would handle that horrible excuse for a human being who tweeted that horrible message about Quvenzhane Wallis. And as adults with a soul, we feel so badly for her that she now has to deal with a situation that no 9-year old should ever have to face. That tweet, even though it is deleted, has been captured in screen shot images everywhere and kids at her own school will taunt her about that for years to come. So, while I feel like bullying in general will always continue in some form, I believe bullies should always be held accountable for their actions and they need to learn, at some point, that it is not OK. From that perspective, it is good that the action of bullying is being challenged and little by little, we are making bullying less acceptable. However, I will teach my child how to cope as much as I can and pray and pray that she never has to use that knowledge in her lifetime.