Bully For You

Bullying

Wait…how does the puffin tie into this?

Okay, I agree that it is important to teach kids how to cope with bullying, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to stop bullying in the first place. Please tell me the difference between the meme above and the following statements:

  • We will never, ever get rid of rape. We should teach women how to defend themselves and cope instead of passing anti-rape laws.
  • We will never, ever get rid of identity theft. We should teach people how to protect their passwords and cope instead of passing anti-identity theft laws.
  • We will never, ever get rid of racism. We should teach minorities how to avoid racist situations and cope instead of trying to end bigotry.

Do you see how each statement effectively shifts culpability to the victim instead of the perpetrator, as if to say that if you become the target of a bully, a rapist, a thief, or a bigot, it’s somehow your fault for not being tough enough? Passing harsh laws against bullying does not weaken our children – there are still plenty of other childhood traumas with which they’ll be forced to cope. In fact, it strengthens them, because it frees them from constant torment to pursue hobbies, friendships, academic interests, and other healthy outlets.

There’s another danger in letting bullies run unchecked. Matt DeLisi of Iowa State University’s Department of Sociology suggests that childhood bullies are significantly more likely than non-bullies to become criminals as adults. Laws that deal harshly with bullying (rather than its underlying causes) may not do much to change the bullies’ fates, but telling the victims to toughen up does absolutely nothing at all.

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