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Bullying is not a new problem. While the internet has allowed bullying to take on some new forms, it has been around probably throughout human history. One environment in which a lot of people are exposed to it is in public schools. While public schools often state that they have zero tolerance for bullying, the fact is that most schools do very little about it. I was on the receiving end of some bullying when I grew up. While I know other people who went through a lot worse than I did, it was not pleasant, and there is absolutely no reason why it should be tolerated. Some myths have long been perpetuated about bullying, and I want to put these myths to rest. I am under no delusion that I will reach everyone. I just hope to reach someone. Unfortunately, people have a lot of attitudes that tend to enable, if not directly promote, bullying.

Bullies target those they perceive as vulnerable. Those who are physically weak or emotionally sensitive are more likely to be targeted. While society has come to accept that physical frailty is not something people ought to be blamed for, when it comes to emotional frailty, we lag far behind. People still see mental illness as not real illness or see the mentally ill as a menace to society. The mental illnesses that are too serious to dismiss as not being real are regarded as somehow rendering those who suffer from them not entirely human. Those with emotional vulnerabilities are regarded as hypersensitive and to blame for their own weakness. Suicide is seen as taking the easy way out.

Bullying does not build character. It destroys it. It teaches people that they are worthless. Some targets of bullying end up killing themselves. Others turn violent and lose all concern for the well being of others. In a few instance, the bullies actually kill their victims. Yet, some see this as a normal part of childhood, or just inevitable, as though children are wild animals that cannot be tamed. Or they think that bullying teaches kids that life is not fair, and that this is an important lesson for them to learn. It is true that life is not fair, but the point of society is to try to reduce this unfairness. The lesson should be "we are here to help," not "you are on your own." Society exists precisely so that people will not simply be on their own.

Nietzsche once said "what does not kill me makes me stronger." It is not clear whether this was meant to be taken seriously, or whether it was the defiant expression of a man who would eventually be declared insane. There are certain instances in which this saying is true. It is true with regard to exercise, and to a point it is true of our immune system also. But there is a breaking point, and we need to be careful that we do not reach it. Exercise is designed to carefully push our limits without going too far. If you keep running until you pass out from exhaustion, you are doing it wrong.

With regard to exercise, most people know when to stop. The same is not true of bullying. Bullies do not step back when they hit a nerve. They are like predators, emboldened by signs of weakness. Sometimes ignoring bullies helps, but not always. There is no such thing as a little bullying. Bullying is a cycle that by its nature is out of control. The one who stops in time is not a bully, though in a group dynamic, those who are not bullies at heart may contribute to the problem because they do not realize what is going on.

Bullying does not just happen naturally. It is a product of how we raise our children. Children internalize our negative teachings as well as our positive ones. They pick up on our fears and prejudices. It is not a coincidence that gay children are the subject of intense bullying. The bullies pick up on the homophobia around them. It is likewise no coincidence that children target those with mental handicaps, when society has yet to come to terms with these same handicaps.

Bullying is not just being a child. It is not free speech. It is not part of the process of growing up, any more than getting lung cancer is part of the process of growing old. Society can stop bullying. The question is why it does not.
Essay I wrote in 2012 on bullying. Reposted from my old account, frankteller. This will probably be the last old essay I post. New material is coming soon.
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Rogue-Ranger Featured By Owner Mar 1, 2017  Hobbyist General Artist
This is very well written and you make excellent points! I've been dealing with bullying in one form or another for much of my life. When I was younger, it was because I was too emotionally vulnerable. I realized the teachers beyond first grade were just too tired and worn down to care. And there was a sense that, since I'm male, I just needed to man up. So I became more closed off. Though, there were exceptions like in third grade when I had a big crush on a classmate. And, yes, I liked boys not girls.

But I also saw all the ways others were bullied. The only people who would be my friends in elementary school were those who were bullied too, one for having a birth mark on his fact, another for being overweight, another for hair color, etc. Basically, any reason. There was a sense of conformity and anyone different was ridiculed and anyone weak was tortured. If an adult did the kinds of things the kids did, they'd be locked away on prison. In fact, had one bully been older and stronger, I feel certain he would have killed me.

For the past several years, I've been giving advice online to people who are bulled. So, I see all its ugly forms and how incredibly common it is. You really illustrate it well when you say that we as a society see children as wild animals left to fend for themselves. School tends to be an test in survival, where the physically, emotionally or mentally vulnerable are weeded out. It does get better after middle school for many and after high school for most, but it is the longest twelve years of anyone's life and it feels like it will never end.

We need to do more, but because we've all experienced bullying, we assume it will happen and that assumption leads to complacency. Also, when a school proposes an anti-bullying program that teaches kids differences should be accepted, some parents become outraged and the programs are watered down to eliminate mentions of sexual orientation or other controversial topics or scrapped altogether. It seems daunting to try to tackle bullying as a whole.

Thank you for sharing this, as we all need to address this issue and stop sweeping it under the rug. The body count, both physically and mentally, is too high to ignore.
agnosticdragon Featured By Owner Mar 1, 2017
Sure, and I have some thoughts on the whole "man up" idea. I think our society's conception of masculinity is dangerous. A man is angry or horny. Fine, those are manly emotions. A man is scared or sad or feels empathy for other people. Not manly.
GunnerOfSouth Featured By Owner Feb 25, 2017  New Deviant Hobbyist General Artist
I quite agree with you, mostly in the part of mental illness, it's sure that children with this diseases are the common target... but we must not forget that the issue is in both sides.
Even if the 'victims' has it hard, they're more likely to receive help, while bullies rarely receive the psychological attention they need in a good environment, generating an endless circle of violence.
Bullying is a complicated issue, but if we only focus on the victims, we can't progress.
agnosticdragon Featured By Owner Feb 25, 2017
Good point. We need to address the issue rather than vilifying people. 
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