The Exaggeration of the Bullying Epidemic
by hhuey1 on September 13, 2013 - 3:58pm
What was formerly seen as an unwanted rite of childhood is now seen as an issue warranting strict laws, administrative punishment and costly anti-bullying programs. The epidemic stems from a few widespread suicide and school shooting cases that, although immediately pinned as events caused by bullying, now seem to display more of a back-and-forth conflict than a “bias intimidation” (Cloud, 2012). Teachers, parents and bystanders are key to limiting such unintended consequences as suicides and school shooting and wasted school funds by stressing manners, proper treatment of others, and by standing up for each other.
The problem addressed is the extensive intervention of trivial cases of back-and-forth conflict. The rising epidemic is surprising considering that the statistic “37% of students don’t feel safe at school because of bullying” has stayed constant for DECADES (Cloud, 2012). A limitation of this article is that, although a few cases are used to explain the recent epidemic of anti-bullying movements, the number of suicides and school shootings in the past have not been given. It is possible that the number of deadly incidents was significantly lower in the past, or maybe the adults of those generations saw similar situations as an end result of deeper problems. This seems to correspond with one of the examples in the article where a boy from a bad home-life shot peers in the cafeteria of his school. What strikes me is the overbearing, yet seemingly oblivious behaviors of teachers and parents after the fact. A conclusion is quick to be drawn, and actions fast-paced to protect a child who has come forward as a victim when, according to the principle of the largest middle school in Houston, TX, “99.9% of parents on both sides of bullying are shocked to realize what their kids have written” (Cloud, 2012). The point of view of the writer is unbiased, just as bystanders, as the article suggests. Research suggests that there is an overlap of “bully” and “victim.” They are not separate and not of bias intimidation as the epidemic suggests, but instead shared disputes. The intervention of a bystander is important in talking parties out of a conflict that may escalate. Overall, I agree that the definition of bullying has changed so drastically that all unpleasant social interactions are seen as bullying, and although this new definition of bullying may have played a role in the few tragic cases that have brought awareness to the issue, the lack of teacher and parent guidance and the absence of outside social intervention, not lack of laws or administrative punishment have led to those cases.
Cloud, J. (2012) The Myths of Bullying. Time, 179(10), 40-43.