Drawing the Behavorial Line

Bullying is a form of behavior in which the strong prey abusively upon the weak. The victims of bullying are often young boys. The incidence of bullying amongst young girls, or younger boys victimizing them - approaches zero. Much of the focus in defeating it comes from concerned parents who seek to eliminate the basic mechanisms by which it exists. The exceptions of online-generated drama being the rule.

Unfortunately, the natural development of a young male child - includes play structured around hierarchy. Not collaboration. It is a competition to grow up as a boy - into a man. A complete elimination of all behaviors associated with 'bullying' would result in flat, collaborative, non hierarchical school environment. Peace sells. But who's buying?

This type of flattened cultural environment is not a departure from the pattern of play of young girls, who are by their very nature more adept at playing with each other. They are creative in their play. Their play fosters nursing skills, nation building and finding ways to get me to do more chores without even knowing it. Boys , on the other hand - as a rule find ways to hurt or get hurt. They compete; give a boy a video game and he'll be glued to it. This excites within him the chance to be better than someone else. It's irresistible. This is not , entirely - an imaginative form of play in which others become part of a fantastical world creation. There are no real questions about life acted out. We are Indiana Jones. We will survive the Temple of Doom. Our evil nemesis is close behind.

In any competition, there are winners and there are losers. Those who compete and fail, can, will and must pay a psychological cost. There is no such thing as a flat model for the acceptance of defeat. It hurts. Anywhere.
And it should. So stop trying to make it painless. Stop trying to numb.

The movement in modern school systems to attempt to eliminate bullying is based in small part on a feminist move to eliminate male oriented power dynamic, in larger part a movement of a largely medicated and numbed adult cohort to deal with children's problems the way they deal with their own: to numb them into submission .

The application in our public schools, which is being sought - is a big brother model where administrators meddle. It will deliver less of a decidedly male oriented , power and class structure - one that has been in place for nearly 50 years - and more of a female oriented, collaborative. It will come at the expense of the chance of getting hit in the hallway. Alot of us won't miss it. But it's good to question whether or not it's a good idea.

Flattening down school culture is a trend that found gain shortly after the women's movement in the 1960's. Before, women would largely consider careers as Schoolteacher or Nurse. Now, they can choose from being a doctor, lawyer, architect and it is harder to interest them in teaching school. The cultural change in school systems resulted from the participation of those who would have otherwise found their way into that career - and the departure of those that found otherwise.

In public schools, and colleges - a cultural shift has been underway for years, favoring women over men and girls over boys. The graduation rate for women, out of the American colleges now exceeds 57% for women, compared to 43% for men.
Statistics for high school, and middle school - parallel this trend.

We now have an educational system designed around students who are meant to stay still, to listen. There is a very real movement from within that context to remove any and all competitive behavior in which the least form of psychological damage can occur. Everyone wins. Everyone gets a spirit award. Everyone gets a prize. Thus. A female oriented system.

Kids don't "Get Away" with anything any more. Speaking as a man, who was once a boy - mischief and adventure were vivid in my mind. Sure, honors class was as well. But my experiences of growing up center around the adventure. Everything seems more controlled. And in this, to a boy - school becomes a punishment. They need to flex their muscles against the world.

Of course, real bullying should be stopped. It's an over the top response- often from a weak individual who has built up either physical or mental defenses against simple abuse or to cope with low self esteem, that expresses itself in need to assert power or control over someone else. You try to control, what you cannot control in yourself. Sort of like the drive to get tattooed. You have power over your own skin. See, world? I've fixed you now.

But not quite.

Unfortunately - along that same line, is an element of challenge, by which young boys establish physical, psychological and emotional dominance. Young men have, for six centuries, used this channel to establish hierarchy, leadership - and healthy patterns of competition. The drive to eliminate so called questionable activity - in which young boys are challenged (in a semi systematic way) by their peers has met the ridiculous amplification mechanism available to the polity.

We have a strange cultural tendency of over-focussing on our children. It parallels a post humanist model of culture. We are running to artificial forms of entertainment. Television. Cellphone. Internet. And carrying our children with us. Even if we are worrying about them all along.

Our ability, as a culture, to blindly accept such things as renaming our favorite baseball stadium, after a corporation - and to allow those who steal billions of dollars , to go free, because they have a nicely polished
excuse - is confusing in many ways. It is important to note that children need and want to establish their own ways of dealing with who is cool, who isn't. Ways that might seem brutal. It might feel hard, to the child as well. But he or she should have to find a way to deal with it instead of be shielded from it. A good parent knows when to back off. When to allow the baby eagle to fly the nest. And broken wings come. But they heal.

How to draw this line, is simple. The first way, is along the gender line. This is how it's done in Switzerland,
and many other countries. Children are separated by sex.

I saw an interesting thing over the weekend. A group of children were asked to split up for a team building exercise. They said, just divide into two groups. We don't care how you do it. The girls went with the girls. The boys went with the boys. The camp counselor said to me , "This is how they do it every time".

Male children and female children are fundamentally different. Letting boys, be boys - can help them to see school as an arena, in which they can compete and win. Sort of like Minecraft, only with more skeletons. The school-scheduled and school-approved activity of the day - will remain the thing they have to do , so they can get into a place where they can get away from the skeletons. And spiders. Maybe by tricking them to fall off a building.

The best rule, anyone can ever teach a child - to stop bullying. Is when they hit. Hit back. Hard.
A real bully never expects that. That is the best way to draw the line. Girl or boy.