A reasoned analysis of bullying in schools

First of all, in discussing bullying, a distinction needs to be made between physical bullying and kids making fun of each other.

As for the latter, it’s not something that should be a serious concern to any reasonable person. Kids have always made fun of each other, and they always will. It’s venially sinful, and teachers should correct it if they witness individual instances of it, but it’s not something to be worried about, and certainly not something to mount massive campaigns over.

The former sort of bullying (physically abusing one’s classmates) is a bit more concerning, and should warrant corporal punishment, but it again is not a matter which should warrant existential concern. Kids (particularly young boys) always have gotten into fights and always will.

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2 thoughts on “A reasoned analysis of bullying in schools

  1. c matt says:

    I do agree about the verbal bullying to some extent, but there is a point where even verbal bullying can cross a line – constant psychological harassment, complete shunning (especially in the confines of a school where one has less ability to simply walk away or turn off the computer/phone) can be quite cruel and leave devastating effects. Humans are social creatures, and especially susceptible to mental torment at young ages. It would take an exceptionally emotionally and psychologically strong 8 to 13 year old to be able to withstand constant mental abuse without some detrimental effect. I have seen it first hand, and it is not pretty; it is definitely something to be concerned about.

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    • Sure, but I question how capable 8 to 13 year olds are of inflicting total social exclusion. I’m not saying it can’t be done, but I doubt that it’s a sizable portion of cases deemed bullying. Speaking from personal experience, I was deemed a bullying victim in sixth grade, but it was very far from being totalistic.

      The basic issue comes from the fact that ribbing is a natural part of male camaraderie. Children are of course more prone to excess because they haven’t been formed socially for as long as adults have. The way to deal with this is, as with most issues of teaching children how to interact socially, simply to correct misbehavior when spotted. Only rarely would treating it as malicious be appropriate. The problem of course, is that male camaraderie is officially demonized, and moreover the vast majority of primary school teachers are women. The result is that the approach of treating designated bullies as malicious is standard, which is bad because it both contributes to the demonization of male camaraderie and perpetuates the victimhood-as-status paradigm.

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