I read a blog on Halloween about a father who was no longer allowing his children to watch the Charlie Brown Halloween special because it focused on bullying. Here is the link to his blog if you are curious. My initial reaction after reading this blog was outrage that the parents would rather hide this TV show from their children rather than watching it as a family and having some open dialogue about the subject of bullying. But then I began to think about this a little further, this is an excellent example about just how sheltered the next generation is becoming and how ill prepared they are going to be with dealing with many members of our society especially when it comes to dating.
When I was younger I was bullied for being too skinny, I was bullied for just not fitting in and being too small in general. It sucked and I remember for all of grade 8 and 9 wearing a big oversized navy blue hoodie to help me not stand out anymore. I soon learned to ignore the whispers and to just deal with people on an individual basis only, I hated doing anything in a group where I would have to draw attention to myself to be heard. As I grew into my body, I developed the skills to only stand out when I wanted to, the more common solution I found was to just blend in. I watched people I knew get bullied for being too tall, for being too smart, or for being too fat. At some point or another we were all targets for something. I hated going through this, but I am so much stronger and more aware of situations now that I am an adult then I would have ever been had I been sheltered as a child.
I have dealt with bullying in the workplace a couple of different times with grown adults and it absolutely sucks to deal with. But how in the world are the generation of protected youths going to possibly deal with my generation or the generation ahead of me when they start adult interactions with us. There are skills that are critical and will be missed. What is even more concerning to me is how will this effect relationships. It seems to me that as a group of people develop a weakness, there is a group of people who with equal force develop a strength. I have watched with great sadness loved ones not stand up for themselves while being bullied or abused in a relationship. Our generation has empathy for these abused individuals and a desire to help them because we have the skills learned from our childhood bullies, but I do not think this upcoming generation will be quite so lucky.
As a child I recall my mom telling me when I was being picked on, that the other child was probably picking on me for a reason that had nothing to do with me. As I grew up I learned that this was almost always true. If I deserved harassment for something I did, I knew it. When I was picked on for unknown reasons then I knew something must be going for that child at home or somewhere else. It did not make it alright, but it helped me deal with my own anger and emotions in a more positive way, and kept me from picking on someone who was smaller than me when I got the chance.
I have used this to find my voice when guys try to pull something on me that I am not comfortable, or a woman for that matter. I cannot be pressured or coerced to do anything that I do not want to do. If I had not been bullied as a child I would not have that same skill set as an adult. I would be so eager to please that I would likely act in a much more submissive way. I would be ill equipped to say no. I am not saying this to scare any would be parents. I can absolutely empathize with the pain in watching your child get bullied, but with talking with the child, helping them through it, and teaching them empathy it goes a long way to building a whole individual capable of dealing with the good and bad out there. Of course if there is every violence or threats that are of an adult nature the police need to be involved, but again conversation about adult behavior and child behavior is necessary every step of the way.
It will be interesting to see what new relationships form for the next generation and what sort of issues that they will deal with. I hope they will be more capable of dealing with abuse and bullying than it looks like now. Bullying is a harsh reality of our society, and in a relationships where intimacy exists our younger generation needs to practice saying no and finding their voice.