How do you define “bully”? There’s no doubt the answer to that question is different now than it would have been 50 years ago. Don’t you agree?
Fifty years ago kids were expected to get up early, do chores, walk to school, and return home to do more chores. They packed their lunch and were taught to say “yes sir”, and “no sir”
A “bully” in the 1950’s would have probably been defined as someone who singles out weak classmates and picks on them in a physical way. Hitting, kicking, punching….that was bullying. Bullies in the 1950’s stole lunch money and dumped lunch trays. At least that is what has been portrayed on television.
Fast forward to the 80’s – my era. When I was a freshman in high school I was bullied – at least in my mind it was bullying. Upper classmen took it as their duty to harass freshman. It was a right of passage. All freshman had to endure it at some level…..for me it was little clicks of students making comments and laughing at me as I walked past them. I don’t even know what they were saying. Could I have ignored it and pretended it didn’t bother me? Of course – but I wore my heart on my sleeve; and the stronger my reaction was – the worse the bullying got. If I could get to my locker and to my first class without being laughed at – it was a good day. I was bullied – and no one ever touched me. Sticks and stones…..they break your heart.
Now we have the internet. That’s the biggest change. The internet has given kids an avenue to attack even if they are not tough enough to say what they want to say to the victim’s face. It can be more harmful because what is posted online can be seen by thousands. That is the obvious harm the internet brings. Another not as obvious harm is the way the internet has caused kids to be sedentary. Instead of being outside running and playing until dark, they are staring at a computer screen all day. Not only does this open up opportunities to bully and be bullied, it causes our kids to become weak.
Wikipedia has a lengthy definition of the word bully. You can view it here :http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bullying. It’s more of a thesis than a simple definition. Is there really a definition? Isn’t it relative to the victim’s response?
What are some ways you have seen bullying change over the years? How do you think it will change as time passes? Will it be the same, better or worse for our grandkids?
I’m not sure I want to think about it.