Ending the Nationwide Battle with Bullies
On Thursday, March 9, Obama held a conference discussing bullying with hopes of figuring out a policy to enforce on the matter. The recent trend of student suicides due to bullying, many of which were done with help from the Internet, has pushed bullying out of school, off of the Internet and into a debate at the White House. It seems to me like this conference is one of the few things Obama could actually fix during his presidency, but the solution isn’t going to be a website (stopbullying.gov) that implements guidelines to deal with it. The solution rests in finding another outlet for children to express themselves, by giving money back to the arts programs that have been cut, rather than having them get creative with the ways in which they assault their fellow students on Facebook.
There aren’t too many specific factors that cause bullying, but a majority of it is informed by behaviors that children witness at home. According to a King’s College study done by Dr. Terri Moffit, being exposed to domestic violence increases the child’s potential to bully by 50 percent. Also, history of maltreatment toward the child makes him or her 50 percent more likely to be a perpetrator. With that in mind, it’s apparent that bullying isn’t just a matter of how children interact with each other at school, but of how parents are raising their children. Obama and his constituents would need to implement a way for children who are exposed to domestic violence or mistreatment to have positive influences in their everyday lives, which, I’m sure, can be found in music and arts programs.
Though there are some factors that cause bullying, there are also bullies who commit these acts for their own benefit. Stanton Peele, who is a psychologist and addiction expert, wrote in an op-ed for The Huffington Post, “Kids don’t usually bully people to hurt them, nor do they permit bullying in their presence because they’re sadistic or cruel. They — bullies and bystanders alike — do it to feel good about themselves. And that’s a tough feeling to tackle.” Peele rightfully argues that the conference won’t make a difference. But he pretty much leaves it at that, ending his argument on the notion that “bullying is as American as apple pie.” But is torture to the point of suicide an American convention? Should we accept the social constructs of our society, even if they’ve been proven to be at their breaking point?
Bullying has changed in ways that make it possible for children to be bullied both in and out of school. If it can happen any time on the Internet, then that makes the situation far more dangerous for the kids involved and that much easier for the bully. This horrific effect was present in the recent suicides of several high school students, including Billy Lucas, who committed suicide the same day he was told to “kill himself” by students in the Greenberg, Indiana high school he attended.
The perks of arts programs have appeared over and over again. Consider one of the most popular shows on television: “Glee.” One character, Kurt, was bullied about his sexuality to the point of having to flee his high school. But when the big, bad bully did a quick stint performing in glee club, he seemed to have a change of heart — if only a temporary one. Rest assured, children joining glee club isn’t going to stop the problem, but it shows how crucial it is for kids to be involved in something — anything — artistic, as long as it lets them feel good about themselves.
Cutting creative outlets in schools only offers kids more time to do damage at their computers. It’s time to stop taking away what they don’t have, stop lollygagging about what isn’t being done, stop making preventative websites, and start making a real difference for these kids before another one is tortured to death.