From breathless accounts of how someone posted mean stories about someone else on Facebook, or how one kid teased another for being ugly or otherwise different, to national public awareness campaigns complete with websites and taxpayer funding, it’s everywhere.
If one didn’t know better it would be easy to think that America’s children have suddenly been infected with some new virus that’s running rampant throughout the population and that doom lies ahead.
But like so many other things in our culture today, the definition of what constitutes “bullying” is all over the map and has become entwined with issues as far ranging as weapons and sexual harassment.
At one school recently, a seven year old boy was suspended for gnawing his pop-tart into the shape of a gun. At another, a ten year old boy was suspended when a classmate told his teacher that he motioned with his arms as though shooting an imaginary bow and arrow, (so cowboys and Indians is definitely out as approved playground activity). Elsewhere, a six year old boy was suspended for sexual harassment because he kissed a female classmate on the hand.
We even have school districts with “mercy rule” policies against bullying in sports, (AKA running up the score), which teaches kids that if you can’t stop the other guy, the government will do it for you.
Most recently the bullying crisis even found its way into the NFL, with one player (weighing in a 320 pounds) quitting the Miami Dolphins and blaming it on being “bullied” by a fellow teammate. It’s bad enough that any red-blooded American male would use that as an excuse to quit, much less not feel any shame in admitting it publicly.
Increasingly it seems like much of the behavior that’s deemed a problem that needs to be controlled is that which relates to boys, such as being “hyper” or having lots of energy.
As for schools, which are increasingly called on to be parental substitutes, the geniuses who run them have decided to cut back on recess – which has pretty well tracked with the rise in supposed cases of “Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder”. Go figure. And of course those that do still have recess, it is somewhat less testosterone oriented. Games like “tag” and “kickball” are on the outs, and dodge-ball is downright verboten, (as it’s said to be too prone to bullying).
Then there’s the twenty year push to put kids (especially boys) on psychotropic drugs because they’re “too hyper”. From Ritilin to Adderall, long-term prescriptions for ADHD related drugs are second only to asthma as the most frequent for kids, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
Of course pharmaceutical companies have been right there cashing in. A recent New York Times article reported that they have been “targeting perhaps the most impressionable consumers of all: parents, especially mothers.” This all takes place against the backdrop of a society with fewer intact families – which doubles the likelihood that a child will be given such drugs, according to a study in the Canadian Medial Association Journal.
But as Solomon assured us, there’s nothing new under the sun, and since people have been having kids since creation it’s safe to assume that there’s nothing new about kids. Of course that just leaves the environment they’re raised in, but that points an unwelcome finger back at parents, the state of families (and any lack of discipline therein), so we look for scapegoats.
We’ve tamped down the testosterone, identified the symptoms of much of childhood as a problem, medicated the kids (introducing them to prescription drug abuse) and now teach them that doing your best to win or anything usually associated with valor and masculinity is undesirable and that they need to calm down and have another pill.
This in a nation with a military that recently decided to delay mandating that women in the Marines be required to do three pull-ups in order to qualify for future combat duty. Basically liberals want us to be France when we grow up.
In reality it’s liberals who are the bullies. They’re the ones who mandate policies against the realities of childhood to cover for the real problem of failing families. In the meantime, children learn fewer of the lessons that they will need in order to cope with life as adults. But if you’re a big government liberal who looks at citizens as children to be cared for anyway, it’s all good.
Life as extended childhood supervised by government is the dream, staffed by the smart people who know better than you do.