We live in a society fully of bullying! In recent years films have been made about how this affects the learning environments in schools. Bullying is a HUGE problem in schools. It needs to be solved. Many states have enacted legislation that make schools follow specific protocol to follow to prevent bullying. These types of actions are just simple window dressing to a complex problem.
Bullying is present in all aspects of our society. It is modeled everywhere. Schools are not where the bullying starts. It starts in the media with advertising. Imagines that place more value on beauty and size infiltrate our culture starting at birth. The most recent example comes from the CEO of clothing company Abercrombie & Fitch, Michael Jefferies. Below are his comments:
Comments like these create bullies! Since when did size determine cool? If our goal is to rid our culture of bullies why would his comments be acceptable? Thankfully some news outlets are taking notice and writing about it. The media attention is only temporary. In time, the stories will fade and Abercrombie will continue to sell clothing and make profits. “Cool” kids will get to wear the popular gear and others will be picked on for not having A&F clothes in their wardrobe.
This is just one small example of how bullying is allowed to persist in our society. Turn on most televisions today and bullying actions are easy to find modeled for our youth. Most reality programming model bullying. MTV, which used to focus on music, now if flooded with bullies. Just watch Jersey Shore, Teen Mom, Buckwild, etc and observe where many grade school students see behaviors that model bullying. How can schools teach that behaviors are not appropriate, when they are modeled everywhere? Bravo’s real housewife series, takes it to another level. Showing that adults should shout and fight about the smallest issues. Why do we let this modeling of bullying exist so predominately in our media? It can be entertaining, funny and makes for good drama, but do we want our youth following these models?
Currently the very legislators who talk about ending bullying in schools are active bullies. Most states are actively attacking teachers, claiming that they are not effective. Saying teachers need more passion for their students and tearing down the traditional American education system. Attacking teacher pay, benefits, unions job security and tenure rights. Teachers feel they are being bullied by the very body that ask teachers to be the first line of defense against bullies.
Many would argue that we have the freedom of speech and expression in the United States of America. By restricting options on television, we would be creating a society of censorship. No good American wants censorship!! How can we address the prevalence of bullying in our media without censorship? Many networks like MTV and the Cartoon Network have used counter programming to help address bullying. Running specials or week/month-long promotions to address bullies. Is this enough? Isn’t it hypocritical to fight bullying while running programming full of bullying? I feel WE can do better!
I am glad that bullying is making it to the forefront of conversations today. It used to be stated that “Kids will be kids.” We are at least trying to change. More certainly needs to occur before we can rid schools of this problem. Society has to recognize bullying behaviors and work hard to not model them. The following poem by Shane Koyczan speaks volumes to how bullying can affect our youth.