Bullying may be defined as the activity of repeated, aggressive behavior intended to hurt another person, physically or mentally. Bullying is characterized by an individual behaving in a certain way to gain power over another person.
In October the whole world was shocked and outraged by the horrible story of Amanda Todd. Prior to her death, Todd posted a video on YouTube in which she used a series of flash cards to tell of her experience of being blackmailed, bullied, and physically assaulted. The video went viral after her death, resulting in international media attention.
A similar media frenzy occurred in the Netherlands after the suicide of 20 year old Tim Ribberink. His parents posted his goodbye note as obituary notice which led to nationwide attention to his tragedy.
Dear mum and dad,
My whole life I have been mocked, ridiculed, bullied and excluded. You are great.
I hope you are not angry.
See you, Tim
Everyone will agree that bullying is wrong, evil and should be banned from the world. After the stories like the ones described above bullied people are invited to radio and tv interviews and people demand that action is taken to reduce (preferably destroy) bullying in schools once and for all.
But how long does the topic really stick? It is almost December and the topic has almost died already. Politicians continue with their own agenda, a new topic to be outraged about comes up, and let’s not forget about Christmas, the time for love for all. So after the short burst of media attention the topic is forgotten, until another bullied teen takes his/her life in a remarkable setting. A normal teenage suicide is not sufficient, definitely not in December.
And why is that?
Bullying is a social phenomenon that is present where a group of people are together for a longer period.
I was not bullied growing up. I bullied growing up. There. I said it. I was a mean, insulting teenager, a breaker of weaker minds and souls. I have played mental warfare with people. Weak, vulnerable people mostly. I knew what I was doing too. I was fully aware that these people did not have many friends and just wanted to belong to our group. I did not let them. I told people they were not wanted. I do not remember having a reason to be mean to people besides me not liking them. Simple as that. As every child/teenager I struggled with finding out who was and what I wanted. Who I wanted to hang out with or have a crush on. And who I did not want to spend time with.
I am not proud of this. But I am not so naive as to think that I can change the cruelty of children and teenagers. I do not pretend that bullying stops at a certain age and is only a problem in schools.
I am not bullied as an adult. I do not bully as an adult. I know it happens though. People are being ignored, insulted, and mentally tortured by their adult peers. Bullying does not stop in high school, and adults can be just as cruel and mean as teenagers. But one is not supposed to be bullied as an adult; one should be able to deal with criticism. Grow some backbone. Not take it so seriously.
What I believe to be the root of bullying evil is the feeling of superiority we have. My belief is better than your belief. My country is better than your country. My political views are better than yours. If you do not believe what I believe, you are stupid and wrong. And I can tell the whole world you are stupid. Freedom of speech and so on. And teach my children that people that hold different views are stupid. “But my children are not bullies. Not my children. They are respectful and tolerant, just like me.” Right….
Bullying happens when someone is different in the eyes of the bully. Is a threat. If the bully wants to feel better about himself and attacks someone that cannot fend for him/herself.. Bullying is not restricted to the school or sports we use to go to. Is has nothing to do with age.
But I suppose that the once you have been bullied, you will always remember your first bullies. How hard and unfair it was. Arbitrarily even in most cases. Because you had glasses or funny teeth. The memory and pain will always stay with you. I hope you are being treated better now.
I hope that one day there will be no more bullying. But that is not enough for me. No more racism. No more religious battles fought with real bombs and guns. No more intolerance towards gays and lesbians.
It takes more to make better world. A lot more. From everybody. And not only after your cried about a teenage suicide. All the time. Developed yourself. Learn about a different culture. Accept differences. Because if you will not, I bet your children will neither.