The media has recently stepped up their reporting of a behavior that is probably as old as humanity itself – the bullying of one person, or group of people, by another, or by a group of others.
Most people have either witnessed or experienced bullying, either as an observer, perpetrator, or victim at least once in their lives, quite possibly in school.
A typical act of bullying might involve one student intimidating another student with either implied or explicit threats of physical and/or emotional violence and/or extreme and and continuous ridicule by others. These “others” can be members of the greater peer group, such as students in the same school. These “others” refraining from direct involvement in the act of bullying, but they become accomplices by observing the bullying and the victim’s resultant physical or emotion. They then laugh at or ridicule the victim, thinking it is “funny” or “amusing” entertainment.
Bullies tend to enjoy genuine pleasure and satisfaction from the pain inflicted on others. To some extent, at least, their behavior mimics that of sociopaths. While there might be many causes for this behavior, one possible cause that is coming under increasing scrutiny is the actions and behaviors of the bullies’ parents. If the parents are expressing hatred and desire to do violence to others, their children are most probably adopting that view as well.
The victims, on the other hand, are often different from the mainstream in some fashion, whether physically, socially, or culturally distinct from the rest of the group. They tend to have a fear of fighting back, believing that they should avoid physical violence at all costs. Unfortunately, the result of that avoidance is often massive emotional violence, but the bully capitalizes upon the victim’s reluctance to fight back. The victim feels helpless, defenseless and alone, and is thus forced to endure the torment and terrorism, often in complete silence because of the fear and shame experienced.
As with bullies, the victims’ parents may be demonstrating behaviors that teach children to appease rather than to stand up and confront the bullies. In other words, their children are not prepared to deal with potential conflict effectively, because their parents were not prepared by their parents, culture, and/or social environments. Simply put, teaching a child human empathy while also teaching that standing up to bullies often the most effective way to stop them is not what these parents know how to do.
In light of the increasing bullying in America’s schools, it is both amazing and horrifying to note that some ultra-religious-right fundamentalist groups are attempting to politicize the issue of “bullying” as a liberal attempt to push homosexuality into the mainstream of schools. These groups, such as Focus on the Family and American Family Association (AFA), both of which claim to represent the highest values of Christianity, promote hate and fear against gays, among others.
These two organizations have lobbied heavily against both federal and state legislation targeting bullying, with some success. They make the claim that these statutes are just “a Trojan Horse to sneak [homosexual activists’] special rights agenda into law” and to “legitimize homosexual behavior” which is “a practice scientifically proven to result in a dramatically higher incidence of domestic violence, mental illness, illegal drug use, promiscuity, life-threatening disease, and premature death.”, as stated by the Michigan chapter of the AFA.
Focus on the Family claims that the anti-bullying legislation presently before Congress “cater[s] to a narrow political agenda” that “becomes a gateway for homosexuality promotion in school.” These and other extremist fundamentalist groups are the same folks believe that global warming is a liberal myth invented to give the government more control over everyones’ lives. And they advocate that parents, not the government, are whom should be taking care of the bullying issue, if one even exists!
But what if it’s the parents themselves who are the origin of the bullying problem? What if these self-same parents are projecting hate, fear and ridicule of homosexuals as acceptable behavior to their small children? What if a child who is being victimized by a bully is too afraid to tell his or her parents? What accountability exists which insures that victims can come forward and find effective relief from the torment they are enduring in private? What accountability exists regarding the children whom, experiencing complete and total hopelessness, take the only escape left to them…suicide?
Well…maybe ultra-extreme-right fundamentalist groups think that suicide is an effective tool in their war against gays…and anyone else they abhor…like non-Christian-White-Anglo-Saxon Americans, non-abstaining single heterosexual women, and all homosexuals…or the worst group of all to these self-appointed, self-righteous keepers of the fundamentalist faith…