This blog has been created to discuss the topics covered in my book : Beyond Discouragement-Creativity.
My goal is to post relevant news articles which both reflect and refute my opinions and observations. As a visitor, your comments would be most appreciated. - Bienvenue. À vous la parole.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Growing up bullied

Why such a topic? What does it mean to grow up bullied?

Bullying is as prevalent in both elementary and high school as it is too often pooh-poohed by school authorities. No one seems to take it seriously - parents are somewhat annoyed but the academic world is not. And that is not only sad for the children involved, it is dangerous for the societies which deny or belittle its existence.

The fact of the matter is, bullying is becoming universally endured if not accepted as a “norm”.  And the stretch from child to adult environment bullying is not that great. But only children seem to know of it. They are like canaries in a fowl mine. They know something uncomfortable is lurking but they don’t have the power to stop it. We adults seem less aware, if not neglectful. Possibly, it’s because we don’t think as much as we feel these days.

In essence, the only components which have been missing for bullying to be fully integrated into society are 3 in number. . .  The environment has to be ripe for the plucking, there has to be a profit margin. . . and most especially, everything has to be “personal”. Until then, bullying awaits on the sidelines.

First : the environment

Bullying is snake-like. Fearful and threatened by the strengths of others, a bully’s motivation is fashioned by its own weak ego. It usually slithers along unnoticed - rearing its ugliness only when there is no way of defeating it. It cannot endure individual or collective strength. Bullying thrives on individual and collective weakness and submission - when, finally, everyone is mesmerized by it. Until then it lies in wait hibernating, gaining strength. It can only exist in a flabby environment - one in which life is taken for granted and cultural values and integrity are ignored.

But the fact of the matter is : we like bullying. . .  Without realizing it, it is part and parcel of the aggressive and often times manipulative attitudes which dominate our work and family lives - as well as sport and entertainment choices. Children are not the only bullied individuals in our society. They may spend more time killing off undesirables in their computer games, but we watch TV reality shows which promote “nothing” as a viable lifestyle and losers as “victims” - and because they are  - we call them heroic. . . So what’s more virtually inane? Us watching individuals making fools of themselves for 15 minutes of fame? Or, us watching freak-show styled programming or cheering-on hockey goons smashing opponent brains into stanchions - without conscience or consequence?

All the while. . . our children wonder why nothing is being done about school yard and internet bullying?

Second : The profit margin

TV reality shows - due to their larger and larger audiences are proving themselves to be cheaper to produce and more lucrative than standard fare. And so. . .  On with the sanctioned bullying process! Add to this a bonus - an addiction to a bullying mentality can be practised in the privacy of our own homes. . . where we can all pretend that we don't really watch. . . such horrible stuff.

In essence, bullying is only possible in such environments where reaction is more prevalent than action. Bullying thrives on a flabby environment - one which, unbeknownst to itself, is gradually rendered weak and submissive by the lowest common denominator mental food it imbibes.   Only in this way can a smaller group of individuals play havoc with the whole - in order to impose, control and . . . well, bully. 

And what of the canary children? Well, they see us mesmerized and enthralled by the displayed faults and failure and laughable weakness and disturbances of others on TV. . . And they can only fear the day that attention will be turned to “their” situations. . .  Their parents and others could be laughing  and sneering at them one day too. . . Who knows? . . . Who knows when?

Third : The personal factor

A bullying environment opens the door wide to everything becoming “personal”. Everything personal gives authority to those who have the power to control how we feel and if and when we can think for ourselves. Children may not “know” this but they feel it. . .

Bullies bully as long as they are mesmerized by our submission and we, by their gall. And they can bully even more powerfully when that submission is generalized rather than individual. And this is where corporate, governmental, societal and parental authorities must weigh in. Bullying is becoming universal and our children are warning us of an impending disaster - if we don’t start to “act our age”.

24 hour a day news offerings where we’re fed daily doses of  lowest common denominator information renders us feeble-minded, submissive and ripe for bullying, political attack ads and snake-oil science. And how we feel about it all (or so they say) is more important than rebelliously thinking about it all. Because if we start “really” thinking and questioning again - we will, once again, become strong. And bullies can’t have that happen. . .

Nonetheless, the first step is to take back the 3 elements which make up our birthright as individuals : thinking, questioning and creating. . .  And then let’s practice the one thing our children are desperate for : encouragement. 


  1. Very good thoughts, Bernard. In fact, my husband and I no longer watch ANY television except very occasionally to catch up on latest local news. We got rid of most of our expensive special stations two years ago and now are considering just eliminating our satellite hook up altogether. We check out DVD's from the library and can pick and choose what sort of things we want to see. I spend all my spare time when not at the easel, keeping up with housework and gardening, reading. I must get your book! My son was bullied in school and I fought with the school board to get him transferred...they threatened me with jail when I took him out of the awful school he was in, but I won in the end. They refused to do anything about the perpetrators or the causes of the bad behavior. My son has grown up to be a wonderful, caring person fortunately.

  2. Dear Karen, The statements you make are universal it seems. There is sadness and disbelief in what you recall about your son's school. It is still this way. We deny and hope for the best and, naturally, blame the parents for what is. As for TV, we are also presently discussing the "down-sizing" of all of our 24 hour a day negativity channels. We are too movie watchers rather than television addicts. Where do people find the time to sit and do nothing for hours on end??? It's flabbergasting. Thanks for writing.