Karl here with an answer: Bullying begets violence: This is the first of a multi-part series of guest posts by two experts in the fight against bullying. In keeping with the themes of this website, they will at various times discuss the connection that violence, discrimination, and privilege have to bullying. It is often a way station to violence and the crimes of murder, rape, and the like.
Dr. Louise Hart and Kristen Caven—my guest bloggers— have written The Bullying Antidote, a positive parenting guide.
This first post is an overview of the ways bullying connects with our worst societal ills, a concept that needs to be made clear and disseminated.
“And How are the Children?”
“Among the Masai of Africa, a traditional greeting often passes between the warriors: “Kasserian Ingera.” It means, “And how are the children?”
This greeting acknowledges the cultural value the Masai have for their children’s well-being. Even those with no children will give the traditional answer, “All the children are well.”
Anthropologist Margaret Mead observed that, “The highest measure of a civilization lies in how it cares for its children.”
If the well-being of our children is, as Margaret Mead observed, an accurate judgment of our society, then we need tools to measure how our children our doing. In this series, we present several studies that do just that.
In the United States, it seems we treat our kids pretty well. We have schools, public parks, playgrounds, and vast industries of toys and games to entertain them. Most children have access to Disney movies, new clothes, travel opportunities, and theme parks.
But many of the good things we provide for our children were built by earlier generations, and the challenges of the twenty-first century are hard to face. We have laws about recess and child labor, thanks to PTA leaders of a hundred years ago. And we provide a basic level of healthcare access for children through government programs. But we also have troubling trends to contend with, from alcohol and drug abuse to school shootings to a rise in sexual slavery.
We need to find ways to share the protection, battle the culture of embattlement, and above all, imagine a better future for our children.
Sharing the responsibility for bullying.
As we follow the threads of bullying into every level of our society, we find that the children… are not so well. We can only hope to guarantee the safety of our children from all these dangers, but no one is 100% safe from bullying and violence. We cannot control every aspect of our children’s environments—home, school and community—and the multitude of social and technological influences upon them. There are good reasons to be worried about the well-being of our children, and there are many questions to be asked:
How are we, as a people, teaching kids to be violent? How can we, as parents, change the terrible patterns of history? How do we stop enabling bullying? Where, exactly is the national conscience?
History shows us that when children and families have the legal protections, safety nets, and community and family support that they need, forces of bullying can be turned around. We must have hope and keep working at it. It does no good to blame parents or schools or the government or corporations or hormones across the board. As a society, we all share responsibility for how we grow our kids, and for creating a culture where bullying is not acceptable.
Every institution plays a role in our low international standing when it comes to raising healthy children: family structures, neighborhoods, churches, school systems, the economy, medical and mental health systems, the prison system, advertisers, pharmaceutical companies, and every single branch and business of military-industrial complex. In combination, these institutions inform the web of disrespect and bullying, drug use, violence and crime, addictions, and the general dysfunction of American society.
Our book The Bullying Antidote is primarily a book to support parents, who have the greatest influence of all on the cultural patterns and ideas (good or bad) that are passed on to the next generation.”
Stay tuned for the next post re bullying, discrimination, and violence.
An aside from Karl: I found the Zulus—another storied tribe in Africa—to be child-centric like the Masai. I love this short video clip I shot of the delight children and adults shared as a child tries to kick high as Zulus do when they dance. This delight is not surprising, since like the Masai, elders keep peace and harmony in Zulu communities by setting the tone for childrearing, settling disputes, administering justice, and negotiating conflicts with neighboring tribes and their national government.
This blog is adapted from Chapter One of The Bullying Antidote, “an in-depth trove of easy-to-implement strategies in abuse prevention” that “triumphs as an in-depth guide to the troubling world of bullying” (quotes by readers). Louise Hart Ed.D. (www.drlouisehart.com) is also the author of The Winning Family and On the Wings of Self-Esteem with co-author Kristen Caven (www.kristencaven.com). Learn more about bullying by perusing and subscribing to The Zorgos Reader: zorgos.wordpress.com.To learn about CLEFT HEART: Chasing Normal, click the Amazon or Barnes & Noble buttons in the margins. Or click the image of the book cover. My coming-of-age memoir has intertwining love stories, mystery, tragedy, and triumph.