Children are bullying each other in frighteningly effective 21st century ways. These are not your father’s bullies. Armed with social media and supported by a culture that seems to glorify bullying throughout a wide spectrum of activities, today’s kids experience bullying behavior in every direction they turn.
“Many parents are numb to bullying
because they experience it every day at work”
Many parents are either numb to bullying or far less sensitive than they should be because they may experience it every day at work. The bullies of their own childhood have grown up and become their co-workers and supervisors.
Too often it seems that the least compassionate and most domineering get ahead.
Some would say it’s always been that way, that the media has simply expanded and amplified the nastiness.
Our history lends some truth to that assertion through political campaigns that introduced us to contentious behavior and outright ugly moments shortly after America declared its independence. The earliest days of the republic also saw intimidation and domineering behavior incorporated into military training and discipline.
In fact, there is substantial historical record to suggest that the very people who sacrificed so much to escape harassment in the old world, brought bullies along with them. Of course what happened in the slave ships and in the aftermath of their arrival on our shores took bullying to levels of inhumanity.
But while the historical record bears witness to intense and excessive examples of bullying over the years, never before has there been a time when 7.3 million children in America have a parent in the penal system. Or when 1,400,000 youths claim gang affiliation. Or when countless handguns are available even to small children. Never has there been an opportunity to bully a child so brutally using nothing but a cell phone. Things have become different, and they’ve become more serious.
What we can safely say is that bullying evolved to the place where we find it today and it serves little purpose to explore exactly how it arrived. What matters is that it’s here.
Hostility is commonplace.
Look at our political process. Much of our television broadcasting is filled with negative, angry, name-calling political ads that seek an attack platform instead of common ground. In many local and regional races, where there’s less oversight, these candidates don’t just want to win an election. They want to destroy their opponent.
Our kids digest this behavior as part of a steady diet.
Bobby Kipper and Bud Ramey have co-authored two books and numerous articles on the crisis in youth violence plaguing our culture, addressing “best practices” for making a difference in the gang crisis and bullying epidemic that is impacting an entire generation. Over 4,400 young people committed suicide last year, largely due to the bullying epidemic. Their books, No BULLIES : Solutions for Saving Our Children from Today’s Bully and No COLORS : 100 Ways to Stop Gangs from Taking Away Our Communities, offer advocacy for at-risk youth.
Bobby Kipper, Director and Founder of the National Center for the Prevention of Community Violence, is a career law enforcement officer with extensive experience in the area of preventing youth and community violence nationwide. His background includes working on a number of key national initiatives with the White House, Congress, and the Department of Justice.
Bud Ramey is the 2010 Public Affairs Silver Anvil Award winner of the Public Relations Society of America—the highest public affairs recognition in the world. His grassroots public affairs and humanitarian successes and advocacy for at-risk youth stretch across three decades.