The whole phenomenon of human nature devolving under pressure brings to mind the “Lord of the Flies” by Nobel Prize-winning author William Golding. Now mostly relegated to high school literature classes, the insightful and very topical work tells the story of a group of British boys stuck on a deserted island who try to govern themselves, with disastrous results.
“The vacuum left behind by absent parents
and home lives where empathy is unknown, supervision is absent
and moral compasses are unavailable”
At an allegorical level, the novel is a study in conflicting human impulses: to embrace civilization, live its rules, peacefully and in harmony, or, to live simply guided by the desire for power and the will to dominate.
Themes include the tension between groupthink and individuality, between rational and emotional reactions, and between morality and immorality. The narrative carries the story of how these juxtaposed impulses play out, and how the different characters respond.
There is something of “Lord of the Flies” inherent in the gang and youth violence crisis in America and in the vacuum left behind by absent parents and home lives where empathy is unknown, supervision is rare or absent and moral compasses are either unavailable or considered a luxury not to be sought. This mentality, fueled as we discussed by the combination of news and entertainment industries, helps smother neighborhoods, then schools, then our children.
As we turn our attention to the similar yet distinctive bullying crisis, it is clear that whatever measures we can take to protect our children will require a multi-pronged campaign. And that includes a demand for changes within the business community, from elected officials, school authorities and, perhaps most especially, the individuals and the collective industry that controls not just what is marketed to our children but the tone with which it’s promoted.
That’s a very tall order indeed, but we have to start somewhere. That’s why we advocate for what most good athletic programs or events do to maintain an acceptable level of civility and in most sports, that means a whistle. Bullying in every venue will continue until someone “blows the whistle”, stops the play, and assesses a penalty before the game resumes.
We need to offer a set of rules.
And we need to give out those whistles to as many people as possible.
Because bullying does not just happen in one venue.
Children have been exposed to bullying since the dawn of recorded time. But while past generations were bullied in various settings most of it didn’t come complete with bullies who carry guns, travel in gangs or have a multitude of willing and tech-savvy followers who have become adept at character assassination through social media.
So, begin here — stand at the starting line of developing empathy for a generation of kids under pressure. Have that empathy both for the bullies and the victims.
And let’s open our hearts to solutions, which need to be applied throughout the school, the community, and in your own home. It is with this understanding that we begin.
Thoughtful and more in-depth journalistic coverage is threatened as newspapers collapse. The majority of people now get their news almost exclusively from the TV, the Internet or even smaller screens. And all the while, the once solid line between news and entertainment continues to blur.
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.