By Dean Kalahar
November 9, 2010
The anti-bullying campaign is once again upon us. It kicked off on October 20th, with the official LGBT day of wearing purple to raise awareness against bullying. What was notable is how many eagerly joined the cause and wore purple. After all, who would not be in support of what seems to be a simple cause. Since, the bandwagon mentality of conventional morality failed to address bullying with any critical or objective analysis; it might be prudent to look at the subject more closely.
We all have stories of being bullied or being the one bulling. It has and continues to be a part of growing up, and some might say is a “right of passing” in learning the tough lessons and the sometimes brutal meaning of life. Everyone surely has a story of childhood “bullying,” so why did we turn out ok after suffering such torment?
For generations kids got through the trials and tribulations of the “crosses we have to bear” without a lot of fanfare or psychological effects. In days gone by life, and the taunting that comes with it, made kids stronger, more whole, and well adjusted. Today, we live in a therapeutic world where everything has to be safe, warm and fuzzy. And although living without bullying seems at face value to be the correct ideal, without it, something would just seem to be missing in the maturation process. Maybe it’s time to stop shielding kids from the process of being kids who turn into productive adults and ask some questions.
Is the anti-bullying campaign actually hurting our children? Where is all this anti-bullying rhetoric coming from? Are we being bullied into believing bullying is bad?
Those who fight against bullying hold a invalid worldview of man, believing he is, by his nature, good and perfectible. Sure it would be a wonderful ideal if everyone would love his fellow man. But in the world of reality, human nature has a brutal side and all the hope in the world for man to alter his universal nature is a waste of time at best and arrogant at worst.
So what should we do regarding our children’s safety and security? First and last, we have laws against assault and battery, and no one is suggesting we ignore them and do not teach alternative methods of dealing with conflicts. But protecting kids from the human condition does little to actually prepare them for life dealing with the human condition. In fact, science is beginning to look at bullying with an evolutionary light.
Bullying is seen as abusive and gratuitous when resources are abundant and warfare unnecessary, but aggressive human behavior always lies just under the surface. Research may show that hyper-aggressive males, no matter how grotesque and unfashionable they seem, would not exist if they did not confer some evolutionary advantage on their species. For example, Baboon behavior shows that when resources diminish, baboon bullies become prized members of the troop in helping to drive others from limited food supplies. In other words, natural instincts and economic realities tied to self reliance may drive us to behave in certain ways, including aggressive bullying, that saves lives.
Other research shows that similar behavior patterns of bullying exist in wolves and chimpanzees, among other animals. This leads researchers to believe that there might be some social benefit from a pattern that seems wholly destructive. One hypothesis is that bullying exists because there is some social or personal benefit. If there was no benefit, then there would be no purpose for it. Evolutionarily speaking, the trait for bullying could only survive if there was a benefit, to either life span or reproduction that makes it useful to the person carrying it.
In The Moral Animal, Robert Wright states, "Throw a bunch of hens together, and, after a time of turmoil, including much combat, things will settle down.” Disputes over food will become brief and decisive, as one hen simply pecks the other, bringing quick deferral and forming a simple, linear hierarchy, wherein every hen knows its place. Why would this "pecking order" be useful? It provides a hierarchy that keeps members of a group from continually vying for power and control. It keeps the stronger members from wasting energy and keeps the weaker members from continually being hurt when they lose in a struggle.
Whether good or bad, we could say that this creates a certain amount of order in a social group-whether it's animals or children. But this only explains how it benefits a social group and doesn't explain why bullying continues even after hierarchies or "pecking orders" have been established. For this, we must examine the possible personal benefits of bullying.
In the article, "Words That Wound," the author states that, "Theories...vary on why children become bullies, but most agree that bullies gain power and enjoy the control they have over others." It seems that bullying is mostly about having power and control over others. This may have effects on the status of an individual bully, and it may also affect the way a bully feels about himself. In the book, Developing a Social Psychology of Monkeys and Apes, the author states that, "Dominance has not been a negligible issue in primate studies. Higher or lower rank is thus as influential in social interactions as they are in human societies.”
Continuing, the author states that, "Control, in monkeys and apes, is used to improve mating and feeding opportunities or to anticipate and avoid the aggressive actions of others." Although mating and feeding are probably not applicable to the social hierarchies of children, these observations from the animal kingdom may apply to the way dominance and bullying work for them.
Scientists hypothesize that the personal benefits for a bully include higher self-esteem, better access to resources and, as with the monkeys and apes, avoidance of the aggressive actions of others. Lastly, some suggest bullying helps an individual actually avoid the aggressive actions of others, by being aggressive himself or herself.
The subject of bullying within a culture is a dynamic question that must not be taken lightly. Sound research and children’s safety concerns should be priority one. But we must not jump to conclusions regarding bullying just because it feels or sounds like it is bad. In addition, questioning why the campaign is being pushed so fervently needs to be asked.
The LBGT is the group responsible for promoting the “wear purple” anti-bullying campaign. Why is only an acronym given to a group promoting the demonstration? LGBT is an acronym referring collectively to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people. The same group that promotes hate crime legislation and special victim status is using the anti-bullying message as a generic form of “hate crime” legislation on children. They do this in order to push an agenda of universal acceptance and extra-legal standing in society.
Controlling genuine assault and battery on children is a fundamental issue, and laws are already in place to protect all citizens. Indoctrinating children to push a sensitive and controversial adult issue, however, is disingenuous and disgraceful. What would be ironic, if it was not so disturbing, is those who pretend to want to protect kids by promoting an anti-bullying agenda will not think twice about “bullying” those who dare to offer a counter argument and expose their agenda.Sources:
Jeremy Smith & Todd Nadenicheck, Biting the Underdog
Michael Brown, Gay Is Good Or Bullying Is Bad? A Teachable Moment.
Dr. Christopher Bailey, The Benefits of Bullying,