yes but let’s be real, we’re never going to “end” bullying, even with laws. there was already anti-bullying legislation in place in my state when i was in middle school, and yet all authority figures just stood by and watched, even after i had reported the people who bullied me.
and the worst part is, victims are unlikely to actually report it, because the truth is reporting does absolutely nothing for the victim, and just further angers the bully. i’d thought it was bad before i’d reported it, but after that i was tortured to the point where i attempted suicide, repeatedly.
all this “end bullying” stuff is just talk with no substance behind it, and it’s never going to get any substance behind it because it’s already been proven that the laws don’t fucking work.
Translation: “Because we can’t stop 100% of bullying, let’s give up and let the bullies run the earth.”
I am very sorry about what happened to you, but just because we can’t stop all bullying doesn’t mean we can’t try to stop as much as we can.
What I do is try to highlight research, because the best anti-bullying programs are going to come out of solid research, and research will test their effectiveness and build better programs. Here is an example of said research. And mind you, this isn’t just about laws, this is building programs that try to prevent bullying in the first place, not merely punishing bullying. This is research to try to ascertain the causes, to figure out how to induce empathy is children, to find out what is effective and what is not.
Because even if we manage to spare just one child from bullying, isn’t it worthwhile doing? Especially to that child?
Because you know, I would want that.
I was doing my Master’s thesis on bullying until the topic triggered me back to my own childhood so badly I dropped out of that degree program. Let me share something I know.
We haven’t quite found anti-bullying programs that stop bullying once it’s started, but we can reduce the harm bullying does. Just a few small changes to classroom culture, like limiting children’s opportunities to exclude each other, or spending time talking about respectful communication, has visible changes. Yeah, there’s still a hierarchy of popularity, but kids at the bottom of the ladder go from having no friends on average to having one or two. And that’s enough to make or break a childhood. (Sources: one two three four five)
But here’s the other thing.
There is one major factor that mediates the link between childhood bullying and adult mental illnesses (predominantly depression, aniety, and eating disorders). It’s self-blame.
What really damages children isn’t precisely being bullied; it’s believing that they deserve to be bullied. If children don’t blame themselves for being victims, they are much more resilient and experience fewer long-term negative consequences.
(Sources: one two three four five)
Society blames children for their victimization by bullies all the time. It says, “There is something about you that causes people to bully you.” Common responses to bullied kids are things like: “Don’t give them a reaction.” (They’re bullying you because you get upset.) “They’re just jealous.” (They’re bullying you because you do well.) “Let’s teach you some social skills.” (They’re bullying you because you act weird.)
If we can just change that one thing, we could prevent a lot of damage. What bullied kids desperately need at the very least is a caring community that says: You are not alone. It’s not your fault. What they’re doing is not okay.