I came across a very interesting post on Moment Matters, where it is posited that bullying actually helps build character and fortitude. Now of course this is going to bring forth widely differing opinions and probably grate a lot of people up the wrong way. It’s a very provoking post. However, I think the reason it’s been posted is to bring forth discussion and from the replies I’ve read thus far it certainly has. As someone who has been at the butt end of severe bullying from a young age I immediately had a knee jerk reaction to this post, which is completely understandable. However, I managed to reply to it without even mentioning this fact – something I’m rather proud of.
You see, I disagree with this post completely, not only because I’ve been a victim of intense and severe bullying myself but also because it goes against everything I believe about human evolution. I think bullying only serves to be destructive, not only for the victim but also for the bully too. Bullying undermines self-esteem, which can be extremely fragile in formative years and it sets the bully up to be a victim of their own ego. It does not help but hinders each individuals sense of self-worth.
It can often be totally destructive to some children. We hear often of kids who have ended up with severe mental illnesses and even committing suicide over being bullied at school for example. How can this be right? Were they just too weak to withstand something that is normalised? What happens to the bullies as they grow up? If allowed to continue to bully what kind of people do they grow into? We only have to look at the amount of people in the world who think they can get what they want from intimidating others…what a mess!
It is important to teach our children to defend themselves, and sometimes this might mean getting physical with bullies. After all if someone hits me I’m not going to just stand there and take it. No, I’ll pack a punch back for sure. Most often though I will walk away but that’s not always possible and under such circumstances I do think defending one’s self physically is appropriate. But allowing bullies to do what they do because it makes the other stronger or increases a sense of fortitude is an argument that just doesn’t hold water in my view.
Of course we have to think about why people bully. Most often bullies are scared, fearful people themselves with very little real self-esteem and that is very sad. The onus is on each one of us to help people live together in harmony, respecting each other and tolerating each person as a unique individual but that does not mean we have to put up with bad behaviour. For society to be cohesive we need boundaries otherwise we descend into chaos and extreme unpleasantness and who wants that?