Something struck a nerve with me this morning. On my usual rounds of blog readings I came across an anti-bullying post. As an equal rights activist, anti-bullying programs and ideas are dear to my heart. Teaching and practicing discrimination and violent behavior starts young, no one becomes a racist or a bigot all over a sudden, so I am very interested in any idea that would stop this behavior early, and aid the victims of this devastating problem our schools and society faces.
So to the blog post. The first part told the tale of a friend of her daughters who became a victim, and explained in details all the participants roles within the bullying. So far so good. I feel for the girl. How horrible she must have felt. You can read about this account here:
The end of the post had me choking on my morning coffee, as she suggested that anti-bullying campaigns do not work (huh?), punishing bullies does not work (what, let them get away with it?), but that we should teach the children to embrace higher self-esteem, and the result would be less victims, as they would be too confident to be a victim, and less bullies as they would feel to good about themselves to bully anyone.

In my humble opinion as a former victim, this approach does not serve anyone. Yes we do need to work on raising the self-esteem of our children – but that is a process that takes a long time and a lot of work from both teachers and parents. Not all parents are good at that, and neither are all teachers who are way to focused on placing high tests scores then to worry about how self confident their students are. The problem is that now children are being victimized, and now there are people who are bullies and we must act now to keep kids from killing themselves, by removing and punishing those who are victimizing others. Actions have consequences – or at least should have, and rather then patronizing the poor bullier with the low self-esteem, he or she needs to face the consequences right away! After that we can fix the underlying issues that drove him/her to that place. Protection of the victim is absolutely a priority, then we can raise their self-esteem to be able to deal with this kind of pressure and the scars left behind.
Yes indeed we need to identify the reasoning behind the bullying so the next generation will be free from that kind of behavior, but these are separate actions from dealing with the now, the hurt that this causes, the danger our children are in, and the scars that are left behind with each new day, new attack, new victim. This is way to a complex societal issue to fix with an easy approach.