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Master_Scythe

Bullying: The risk with 'accepting differences'.

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So I'm not sure how to get my message out, or who would even care, but, I guess I'll dive in.

 

As a typical computer geek, who was quite obese and far too outspoken as a teen, I was heavily bullied.
I can recall one or two instances where I lashed out and became the bully to a person; and I regret that. But 9/10 times, I was heavily the victim.

As more and more people are forcing acceptance down everyone's throat, I'm worried that a very real angle into bullying will go unnoticed, and that is the victims role in fanning the flames.

 

The problem here, is that 'acceptance' is being taught long before I genuinely feel it can be practiced; the brain is not mature enough.

After going through the education system (obviously), I then worked in the industry for many years; and one thing remains universally true.
Kids can be soulless jerks. They're still learning the boundaries of right and wrong, and they WILL test them.

Here's the kicker.
In an adult, individuality is to be praised.
If you're a straight guy who wants to wear a tutu and dance like a teapot, more power to you!

If you're a child, individuality (to a point) is fuel for the bullying fire.
You're allowed to like unique things, and you're allowed to share those things with close friends.
But there's a HUGE risk of encouraging 'pride' (and therefore outspokenness) in social oddities from too young of an age.

An adult can say screw you, and genuinely be happy being a loner, but enjoying their simple life pleasures.
a child (or teen) still (generally) craves social acceptance, and bullying is part of human nature. We won't beat it. All we can do is minimize it. And encouraging someone to wave the red flag will eventually make the bull charge.

 

The TLDR of this:

From the view of a majority victim of bullying, is that with 20/20 hindsight, the severity was my fault.
The bullying was not my fault. It's part of human nature, and kids are cruel. We can minimize that with education.
But the fanning of the flames, the lack of an 'older brother' figure telling me to 'shut up, that'll get you beaten' is a key issue.

As I work in a Youth focused industry, I was reflecting on all the anti bullying things over the last week, and I don't think in ANY literature\program, it's ever been even touched on.
The victim, while never deserving, and never the root cause, is often the continued fuel for the fire.

What do people think about teaching the victim how to minimize bullying through their (in)actions, as an additional angle to trying to educate bullies to NOT do it in the first place?

Because, IMO, trying to stop it at the 'bully level', while helpful, will never actually win.

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So your answer to 'how do we teach resilience', is 'get back in the closet until you're an adult and then you'll just magically know how to handle people disagreeing with your life choices'?

I'll posit an alternative: I was a pretty fucking weird kid.  I was fine with the obvious social isolation it sometimes caused as a kid.  My anxiety wasn't really a problem until I was basically an adult.

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3 hours ago, Nich... said:

So your answer to 'how do we teach resilience', is 'get back in the closet until you're an adult and then you'll just magically know how to handle people disagreeing with your life choices'?

Not so much, there'd obviously be a middle ground.
It's also not about actually hiding or being unable to express your uniqueness, it's more about learning WHEN it's appropriate.

Like.... say you're totally into medieval reenactment. Or LARP, or something.
There is a time and place for that to be done.
Showing up in school wearing Armour and speaking in olde English is just painting a target on yourself.

Don't be dishonest to your happyness, but also don't be a whopping outward pile of oddball.

As a good, real world, example from the past;
I liked gaming, mostly Pokemon, and a lot of people even in high school would still whip out the GBA\DS and rock a few games at lunch.
This was 'nerdy' and very true to me; yet still mostly socially acceptable.
However when I look back, I realize that trying to get everyone into learning what 'IV values'  were and how your randomly generated numbers can be calculated to ensure you encounter what you want?
Well that was just too nerdy for people.

These days (Adult), if you talk like that and someone laughs at you for being a nerd, you can just shrug it off and say things like 'That's why they pay me the big bucks!' or something else light hearted, but deflecting.
As a teen, you really have no avenue to defend your 'over intelligence', or your love for an 'oddball hobby'.
The most you can do is just try and accept that you like it but other kids won't; no matter how much you ask them to. It's just not in kids.

 

The role of this 'education' I'm suggesting, is exactly that of a big brother\sister.
"Bro, don't do that, if you take your YuGiOh backpack to school kids are gonna give you shit. Just take your Deck, and if someone else plays, then awesome!"

I guess it's all about Advertising, more than anything.

 

 

As a current example, I'm quite outward in the fact that I like cartoons.
I take 'life' very seriously and beat myself up over small mistakes; so if I get a change to zone out? Damn right it's going to be to a simple story line with likable characters in worlds that seem fun.
Why the fuck not?
And as an adult, I'm OK and more than able to justify WHY I like that.

However even as an adult, I'm not walking around with an Omnitrix on my wrist or a Firebender cloak or some shit.
I mean, sure, it'd be kinda fun to do so, but even I am not THAT socially inept to miss how the general society, that I'm required to exist within, would react to that crazyness 😛

Edited by Master_Scythe

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3 hours ago, Nich... said:

'get back in the closet until you're an adult and then you'll just magically know how to handle people disagreeing with your life choices

on 2nd read, I think it's also more like;
Get back in the closet, and when you're closer to an adult others will more easily not disagree with your life choices.

So much of life is about timing and hindsight has done nothing but strength my belief that the right things at the wrong time (or vice versa) can totally flip the outcome.

Remember we're talking about bullies here, 'bad guys'.
The TIMING to admit you're into, I dunno, whats considered a gender specific show; Powerpuff girls? is NOT when your only company is currently the 'street kids' who are deciding what wall to vandalize this weekend; no?

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By homogenising the adolescent and teen experiences, you're also providing other adults less chances to experience divergence from the social norms in their formative years. 

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I can't help feel that maybe this is coming from a place of not actually seeing and experiencing what and how children are being taught these days. What you're saying is definitely true for the attitudes that prevailed when I was growing up, and that's how I would probably still think if I wasn't immersed in it.

I spend most of my waking hours in a primary school and I'm getting to see it close up. It's so much nicer than when we were kids! I'll try to set out the how and why.

First, a lot of parenting and teaching these days focuses on the idea of resilience. It's easy to think of 'resilience' being about 'stiff upper lip' or 'suck it up' or 'teaspoon of concrete' but that isn't quite right. A resilient person might be able to shrug off somebody else's negative opinion, but they would also be able to cope with having to take a good hard look in the mirror and admit they screwed up and need to change. Resilience might include persisting in the face of adversity, but it might also include being strong enough to ask for help in the face of adversity. Teaching resilience sometimes includes 'letting kids feel the full force of the consequences for their dumbarse decisions' and sometimes also includes 'giving kids some strategies to deal with big emotions like anger, or sadness, or grief'.

Second, a lot of what was acceptable 'back in our day' is no longer considered acceptable now, and it starts early, and it starts with the adults. Teachers (and carers, and parents) will generally try to avoid labelling kids but to label behaviour. For example, generally we don't say "you are being naughty". We would say, "it's not okay to hit somebody". What we DO try and label a lot more are feelings. "I can see that you're feeling upset, but that doesn't mean you can push your brother."

This doesn't mean 'kids have no consequences'. It means that you are very bloody clear about the consequences, actually. "You pushed your brother, and it's not okay to push anybody, even when you are feeling upset. So that means you will sit down here in time out for 5 minutes." Or for the age group I'm dealing with, it's even easier. "Right, Pirateboi, you know that pushing Minininja is not okay. No screens. Two days. If you whinge, I can make it three."

And our society has changed what is acceptable generally. Kids copy what their adults do, and adults are doing a lot less casual bullying. Well, lots of adults are... and you see that reflected in their kids. Kids aren't actually hardhearted jerks - not unless what they see around them is hardhearted jerkery. When kids are seeing and hearing adults talk about how we try to show tolerance, and are trying to tackle our unconscious biases, and all that, then that's what kids will find normal and acceptable behaviour to model. 

All this is not to say that sometimes, kids get bullied. And sometimes, kids contribute to their own situation. But the way to handle that is not to tell them to suck it up, it's to help them build those qualities of resilience, maybe improve their social skills.

What this all boils down to is this: despite what you might see on Today Tonight, bullying today is LESS than it was in our day. Even with all the hype about social media and youth suicide and freaking out about snowflakes, today's children are less likely to experience bullying or violence from peers, and they are better equipped to deal with it than we ever were.

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mixed feelings on this

the concept of "bummer of a birthmark, hal" (thanks, larson) is relevant

 

being "different" is the way some people are; being universally accepted as such is all a bit rainbows and unicorns for me - it's a major attractor for bullies, you can preach acceptance and all that, but some kids are just bastards and react to perceived "threat" with pre-emptive retaliation

 

it takes considerable self awareness to wear your weirdness with pride, and show it in ways that don't outwardly provoke hostility from people who feel threatened

 

i'm not particularly sporty, which for a boy was a major piece of leverage to be accepted

 

but i am good with words, and fast humour, so whenever the prod from people was to tell me i was strange, i'd reply "yes, i am aren't i ?"  and whilst it wasn't an implied threat, it was ambiguous enough to have them either accept i valued their opinion, or feel vaguely uneasy about what the consequences of  irritating a self-aware weirdo might be

 

 

an aura of "weird, and possibly even weirder than you really want to know" is rather protective if you can keep it up

 

but being actually weird enough is a pre-requisite

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12 hours ago, Fenn said:

And our society has changed what is acceptable generally. Kids copy what their adults do, and adults are doing a lot less casual bullying.

I really disagree, but this is going to change greatly on where we work\interact.
Neither of uf are\can be wrong here.

I worked the last 5 years in a school. But a highschool.
I was 'just a tech' but as such the geeky kids latch onto you, so I got to see what they put up with first hand also.

While young kids may mimic the adults around, teens 'rebel' and thats where I was thinking the above is valuable information.

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Oh ffs how do I image now. Where TF is the bbcode editing option?

bulliesbullyingbullies1.png

But I guess at the end of the day I somewhat see where you're coming from? There's a balance between "pull your head in, son" and "be yourself, son" that is probably impossible to get right.

Telling ANYONE, let alone children in their formative years, that they shouldn't be themselves because of how others may judge, feels damaging.

At the same time, the lesson of "there's a time and place for everything, and sometimes the time and place isn't in the school yard during recess" is a valuable one.

Edited by SquallStrife
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6 hours ago, SquallStrife said:

Telling ANYONE, let alone children in their formative years, that they shouldn't be themselves because of how others may judge, feels damaging.

At the same time, the lesson of "there's a time and place for everything, and sometimes the time and place isn't in the school yard during recess" is a valuable one.

Precisely.
As I said, it's more about advertising your behavior, than the behavior itself.

Don't tell them NOT to be themselves; tell them not to be themselves in this specific time and place.
You can educate 'appropriate' behavior without banning or globally shaming behavior.

It's just an angle that's not addressed in any specific 'presentation' I saw while in school, or while working in schools.

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On 9/10/2018 at 3:50 PM, Master_Scythe said:

Like.... say you're totally into medieval reenactment. Or LARP, or something.
There is a time and place for that to be done.
Showing up in school wearing Armour and speaking in olde English is just painting a target on yourself.

even as adults we marginalise others to enforce social norms.  a lot of bullying can be understood as part of the cruel end of that spectrum.

i am referring to the non-violent mob mentality variety more so than the (frequently physical) harassment perpetrated by the cliched 'kid from a broken home', although the latter can instigate the former.  

there have always been weird kids and weird interests.  in truth, the majority of any group are 'weird'.  but we are collectively held hostage to 'normality' in a Stockholm Syndrome-esque way.  this is the social game, and woe betide the person who doesnt understand this instinctively.  this is often more telling than weirdness of traits or interests alone.  

reading emotional cues, knowing the right and wrong time to interject, a sense of what behaviours gel with or sabotage the tone and flow of a conversation.    but the kid who cant read the room and repeatedly won't take a hint is simply annoying.  even more so if they push back against being frozen out with a complete lack of insight.  once even the nicest kids have dwindling sympathy for you, good luck.  might as well douse yourself in petrol.  when the spark is lit, most are just glad its not them burning.

everyone must suffer the game.  ignorance of the game is no excuse for not playing.  playing the game means garnering a healthy fear of ridicule.  whosoever shall be found without one shall have one amply provided.  winning the game means figuring out how to play without sacrificing honest expression of yourself at the alter of popularity.  

 

 

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Bullying is bad, and should never happen.

 

Having said that, it remains true IME that if you want to avoid being bullied, join in on the game and give as well as you take, and learn to take a joke.  So many bullying experiences seem to escalate to that point because someone made a silly, unimportant, lame joke at someone's expense, and the 'victim' got overly sensitive about it and that caused the bully to go all in.

Yes, the minor bullying should not have happened in the first place, but instead of indignation, verbal warnings, and then official complaints to management or a teacher, having a laugh along with it just seems to be the far better option.

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I'm not sure humans will ever lose the practice of bullying / hazing. It's a bit like prostitution, paedophilia, and murder, and birth, and well eveything really. With decades of continuously bringing the negative culture out into the light of day, we may ultimately deal
with it in a better more productive way, here's hoping.

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On 9/11/2018 at 10:04 PM, Kothos said:

if you want to avoid being bullied, join in on the game and give as well as you take, and learn to take a joke.  So many bullying experiences seem to escalate to that point because someone made a silly, unimportant, lame joke at someone's expense, and the 'victim' got overly sensitive about it and that caused the bully to go all in.

This is a lovely, naive idea that assumes everybody is equally able to simply 'join in' and 'look normal'. I've quoted Kothos but he isn't the only person here saying it.

This does sound a lot like blaming the victims. If it's so easy for victims to just stop being victims, surely it's even easier for bullies to stop being bullies?

And not everyone CAN just 'act normal' and join in. Sure, some people can and do - and I assume those are the people right now suggesting everybody do that very thing. But others are unable to, for so many reasons. 

Having been both the bully and the victim in my time - and the reality is that most of us are both, at different points - I know that it was a lot easier to stop being the bully than the victim. Being a bully is operating from a position of power, however false and precarious. To be the victim is to be isolated, undermined, unsupported, powerless. It's a lot harder to change your life from the victim position. Even as an adult it's difficult to get away from a bully - at work, in a relationship, in a friendship. As a child it's even harder because realistically, you can't just decide to change schools or even change your desk.

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Fenn, I agree with what you're saying but my comment was literally just based on my experiences.  I don't rationally or ethically justify.  It's just a product of observation.

I don't like it and I'd rather a different solution.  It just appears to me to be the only one that's really worked well.

E.g. I had a new starter in an office - a kid straight out of high school who had been bullied in school and was sick of putting up with it.  People ribbed him in the office in precisely the same way that they ribbed me and each other.  But he, being overly sensitised by his experiences, became offended and tried to push complaints up the management chain, which just made people decide to bully him for real.

I, having been on both sides of the game, tried to advise him that it was possible to get along with these people, just to laugh at himself along with them and take opportunities to make fun in return.  He flatly refused and caused himself a lot of grief for years.

But, he eventually matured and now he can both take and give a joke and is (and really always has been) one of the best people you could know.

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On 9/15/2018 at 12:02 AM, Fenn said:

This is a lovely, naive idea that assumes everybody is equally able to simply 'join in' and 'look normal'. I've quoted Kothos but he isn't the only person here saying it.

This does sound a lot like blaming the victims.

Just to point out the obvious. Nothing in any rule book says that a victim can't be a perpetrator.

"Blaming the victim" is a cute catch-phrase but it's meaningless.

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21 hours ago, Leonid said:

 

"Blaming the victim" is a cute catch-phrase but it's meaningless.

What ? you mean a bit like " fat shaming " ??

I think " blaming the victim"  has more value in it's truthfulness factor. There's been  monumental truckloads of true victims blamed for their hurt. That's not to say the odd false victim does not try to score a win however.

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The word "meaningless" here is used to indicate either that the writer does not understand, or is made uncomfortable by, the thing to which he or she refers.

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Heh,

 

It goes on because it because it is allowed to go on and the rules have made it near  impossible for teachers to do much about it,

Years ago my very gentle older daughter had it happen to  her, picked her up from school in tears and the useless prick who caused it was at the gate laughing at her. I tend to move rather fast, especially wherever my kids are concerned. I had him by the scruff of the neck in an instant and dragged into  the principals office.

Had some mumble about nothing they could do because of "the rules."

Ok then I said and took the little prick outside and gave him a solid boot up the ass with the advice to NEVER do that again.

An hour later I had the adult version of him AKA father at my door who took a swing at me.

Fucking stupid thing to do around me, I probably broke his wrist intercepting the swing then booted him  up the ass and clean off my property.

Never saw him again, he literally left in tears, his son never went back to the school and my daughter was never bullied again, the tale spread like wildfire.

I can just be one very nasty person when required.

Cheers

 

 

 

 

 

 

'

 

 

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2 hours ago, eveln said:

What ? you mean a bit like " fat shaming " ??

I think " blaming the victim"  has more value in it's truthfulness factor. There's been  monumental truckloads of true victims blamed for their hurt. That's not to say the odd false victim does not try to score a win however.

Girl goes to a party of bikers with rape convictions, in the woods, alone. She gets raped. She's the victim. She's also at fault. (Yes yes, spare me the "right to not be raped" comments.)

Germans invade Russia. Russia fights back and puts half of Germany behind a wall with horrific human rights abuses. Germans are now victims. They are also at fault.

 

 

There are people in education and elsewhere who think light bullying is something meaningful and must be stopped. It isn't. It's a funnel. The strongest come out.

I was bullied by a guy in Primary School. He was bullied in High School. I grew a thick skin and survived. He took his life 5 years ago - maybe because of the bullying, maybe not. But the victim isn't always blameless. 

"Blaming the victim" is a cute catch-phrase but it's meaningless.

Edited by Leonid

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I'm hearing a lot of "bullying is okay because I am strong enough to be a bully in my turn", but not much of any actual use.

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3 minutes ago, Fenn said:

I'm hearing a lot of "bullying is okay because I am strong enough to be a bully in my turn", but not much of any actual use.

I didn't bully anyone. I didn't have the time for it.

Bullying is like jaywalking. It may be wrong but you don't need to police it like it's a fucking bloods/crips war.

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You can tackle bullying without treating it like a crime.  You can teach kids life skills and encourage them to mature.  Unfortunately kids don't get enough of the right kind of attention - too much academic, not enough role modelling and being trusted with responsibilities.  Every child's life should be like an apprenticeship to one or more decent mentors.

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9 hours ago, Leonid said:

Girl goes to a party of bikers with rape convictions, in the woods, alone. She gets raped. She's the victim. She's also at fault. (Yes yes, spare me the "right to not be raped" comments.)

 

I think our legal / justice system is at fault here ... wtf are a group of rapists doing free in the woods ?

 

9 hours ago, Leonid said:

 

Germans invade Russia. Russia fights back and puts half of Germany behind a wall with horrific human rights abuses. Germans are now victims. They are also at fault.

 

well okay here the powers that  be and the individuals committing "horrific human rights abuses" are all at fault

 

9 hours ago, Leonid said:

There are people in education and elsewhere who think light bullying is something meaningful and must be stopped. It isn't. It's a funnel. The strongest come out.

I was bullied by a guy in Primary School. He was bullied in High School. I grew a thick skin and survived. He took his life 5 years ago - maybe because of the bullying, maybe not. But the victim isn't always blameless. 

"Blaming the victim" is a cute catch-phrase but it's meaningless.

imo it's a failing of our species. we think we're soooo much better than the creatures we hunt and gather and study etc. just because we have the ability to think and create. but with all that, we're not really any more decent than the geckos I witness daily who prey on their species
for food, sex, and territory.

... just sayin'

Edited by eveln
< waves> g'day

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On 21/09/2018 at 10:39 PM, chrisg said:

Heh,

 

It goes on because it because it is allowed to go on and the rules have made it near  impossible for teachers to do much about it,

Years ago my very gentle older daughter had it happen to  her, picked her up from school in tears and the useless prick who caused it was at the gate laughing at her. I tend to move rather fast, especially wherever my kids are concerned. I had him by the scruff of the neck in an instant and dragged into  the principals office.

Had some mumble about nothing they could do because of "the rules."

Ok then I said and took the little prick outside and gave him a solid boot up the ass with the advice to NEVER do that again.

An hour later I had the adult version of him AKA father at my door who took a swing at me.

Fucking stupid thing to do around me, I probably broke his wrist intercepting the swing then booted him  up the ass and clean off my property.

Never saw him again, he literally left in tears, his son never went back to the school and my daughter was never bullied again, the tale spread like wildfire.

I can just be one very nasty person when required.

Cheers

 

 

 

 

 

 

'

 

 

You read it here first, folks.  The answer to bullying is more bullying.

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