Saturday, November 3, 2012

The Art of the Bully

The fight against bullying is at an all-time high right now. I'm glad to see this in some ways, but I think we are missing some important aspects of bullying as we seek to address the most hurtful aspects. The three areas I think impact the bullying education of kids, and thus adults, are television, movies and any news outlet to include magazines, papers and shows.

Bullying pervades nearly every aspect of our lives. We fail to see many of these variants as bullying. That needs to change so that we can better understand the vectors kids learn bullying. I hate television. The only uses I have for the physical box is as a video game monitor, a computer monitor and a movie screen. I no longer watch daytime or primetime television, and I absolutely refuse to watch the news. Our shows depict bullying in so many ways, I would find it hard to describe them all in a pitiful blog post. A random smattering of topics include: behavior and attitudes toward women, interaction between adults and children, interactions between children and the manner in which children achieve their goals and desires. I know it is a woefully inadequate listing, but these are the major ones I take issue with. We'll start from the beginning.

  •     Behavior and attitudes toward women: Anyone who has ever really known me knows that I appreciate women. I was raised in the south where Mama is king of her house, and for good reason. Any southerner will tell you. Mama feeds them, fixes them when they are broken, praises them in their endeavors, commiserates with them in loss and celebrates  success. There is no greater supporter than a Mama. Mama also provides the first example of hard work and a value system to a little guy or gal. A Father provides some of these as well, but let's face it, Nobody loves you at the same level as Mama. Why then do we have such poor examples in our shows? Why do writers and producers feel it is ok to treat women so badly on the screen? In fairness, I have seen some very strong female characters in movies and shows, but it is a new development. we cannot forget the bad behavior of the past in explaining the crisis we are seeing now. Children learn behavior early in their development. Television and movies have a major impact on that.

  •     Interaction between adults and children: Anyone who has watched the news in recent times will have seen all of the mind-blowing coverage of Teachers taking advantage of school-age children. My opinion on this is clear, it is a breach of trust and a misuse of power. Sure, I remember having crushes on several of my teachers as a kid. I think that is a healthy part of learning emotion in those years. I think it would have done immeasurable damage to my growth as a person if one of my teachers had been 'available' to me at that time. This is further exacerbated by television shows and movies. Behavior between adults and kids in some of these raises my eyebrows often. I know there is supposed to be a thin veil of truth in fiction, but I wonder if these aren't providing more of a learning experience than they should be. In this case, I mean a learning experience ofr both adults AND kids. By watching it on a screen, I think these two parties might begin to think it is accepted behavior when it is not.

  •      Interactions between children and the manner in which children achieve their goals and desires: This is a mouthful, but I couldn't think of a better way to describe it. This is a gordian knot. I have seen so many examples of manipulation, sabotage and flat our skullduggery, and that was just on the Disney Channel. I have seen shows in which children manipulate other kids into giving them money, sweets or possessions. I no longer wonder at the growth of the con in this age. There have been movies entirely based on the elaborate scheme hatched by some enterprising child to achieve a very minimal result. I won't name it, I'm still in awe of it. Any production in which one person manipulates another for their own gain is a potential classroom for the children who watch it. It doesn't even matter if the players are children themselves.

I have seen so many anti-bullying ads and sites in the last few months and years. The sentiment is well-founded, but I will leave you with this observation: Do you and your kids watch campaign ads during an election year? You have been given front row seats to a class on lying, bullying and manipulation. If you don't believe that, then the propaganda is working.


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