I know, let’s blame the bullied, shall we?

A blogger has posted yet another effort at diminishing the influence of bullies and their actions by shifting the blame over to the people who are bullied. I’ve posted before about social Darwinism and attitudes of “blame the victim,” but this particular pretzeled logic represents some of the most dangerous rationalizing around because it is soft, it purports to be understanding, it offers a putative perspective of someone who was bullied.  I focus on this post not only because it exists for all to read but also because it is representative of the rationalizing that goes on in this country every day, allowing bullying to persist.

The title of the post, “Bullying is not the issue,” pretty much says it all, but here are a few choice quotes:

Bullying and mean people have been around since the beginning of time, and they aren’t going anywhere. I don’t know one person who hasn’t been on the receiving end of teasing at some point in their life. My mom grew up in the 1960’s, and she was teased relentlessly for being overweight as a kid. I was teased in middle school because I was an awkward, braces-wearing tween who never wore the “cool” clothes. My brother was teased all through elementary school for having big ears. Many of my friends were teased for one reason or another. The point is, I think most of us have been there, have been belittled and hurt by the cruel words of our peers.

And yet, we are all still here. We didn’t kill ourselves because of it. In fact, I would go so far as to say I think it has made us stronger.

See? Survival of the fittest. One can infer a clear message from this post: If you don’t have the wherewithal to grab your damned bootstraps and learn to love yourself, well…that’s kinda all your fault, now isn’t it?

If I see bullying diminished to “teasing” again, I think the chain reaction it sets off in my head will devastate the entire metropolitan area in which I reside.

You’d think that when the blogger asks the following series of questions, she’s leading up to perhaps calling for the adults in question to deal with the bullies and the cultural atmosphere that allows it to happen:

The question should be why are these kids feeling that their only option is to take their lives? Where are their families when the kid is suffering? Where are the school counselors?  Where are the teachers? Why aren’t they taking action when they see this negative behavior happening, or at least responding to it once they receive complaints?

Indeed, these are the relevant questions. Here is her answer:

Instead of doing in-depth investigations on teasing or who these bullies are, why don’t we instead seek to give the struggling kids support by strengthening them, and letting them know they are never alone. They need to know that tomorrow will be better, and they should be here to see it.

In other words, We really need to figure out what is wrong with these suicidal bullied kids, not the bullies.

And here is my question: Why can’t we do both?


About ejwillingham

Sciwriter/editor/autism-ADHD parent. SciMaven @ http://doublexscience.blogspot.com/. I speak my pieces @ http://daisymayfattypants.blogspot.com/ & @ http://thebiologyfiles.blogspot.com/
This entry was posted in Defending social Darwinism and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to I know, let’s blame the bullied, shall we?

  1. KWombles says:

    We really ought to do both: help those who are bullied and stop those who bully. To allow individuals to traumatize others repeatedly rather than standing up and saying that behavior is not acceptable, will not be allowed is to condone that behavior, which is something that particular blogger appears to be doing.

  2. –If I see bullying diminished to “teasing” again, I think the chain reaction it sets off in my head will devastate the entire metropolitan area in which I reside.–

    Best. Line. Ever.

    A few weeks back, when I spoke with a woman who does anti-bullying work (and whose very appropriate title is “Advocate for Social Justice”), she made the important distinction between “teasing” and “taunting.”

    Teasing is a mutual activity, carried out by two or more people with the same amount of power. I tease you, you tease me, it’s all in good fun. In some cultures (like Jewish culture, the one I’m most familar with), mutual teasing can be a form of affection and even respect.

    Taunting happens when the feeling isn’t mutual, and when there is a power differential between the person doing the taunting and the one being taunted. If the words are unwelcome, the target does not have the power to stop them, and the target does not wish to return them, it becomes abusive.

    It sounds to me like the blogger is in some serious denial about what happened in her life as a child. She doesn’t want to see herself as having been a powerless victim, so she suggests that what happened wasn’t so bad. This kind of minimizing is a classic sign of an untreated abuse survivor. I used to be one.

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