What Teens Can Do to Stop Bullying in Their Communities

Monday, November 15, 2010 § 1

Let’s talk a bit more about bullying. Or specifically, the bullies themselves.

Anti-gay bullying has gotten a lot of press lately, often referenced as the cause for many recent youth suicides. It’s been compared to witch hunting, and in response to all of the coverage countless anti bullying initiatives have sprung up.

Recently, I read a blog post about the bullying induced suicide of Christian Taylor, and how the bully faced no consequences. He’s still in school, his life goes on as normal, even though his actions led to the end of another.  That story pissed me off. Why aren’t bullies held accountable for their actions? Too many times, bullying is ignored. Excuses are often thrown around, like “they brought it upon themselves by being so different”, or “boys will be boys!”. Frankly, that’s crap.

After ruminating a bit on bullies, my mind sprung to a book we just finished in my English class, The Poisonwood Bible (summary here). The story is about a missionary family (the Prices) who travel to the Congo, and the subsequent affect of this trip on their lives. Around the middle of the book,Tata Kuvudundu, a medicine man in the Congolese village, bullies the missionary family because he disagrees with their western views. He threatens and harasses them and the people close to them. Classic bullying behavior. Eventually, this bullying leads to the death of one of the family members.

The parallels are clear. In both cases, bullying of someone led to death. What’s significant is the way the other villagers in the novel chose to react to this. The other villagers, despite not being the biggest fans of the Prices themselves, shunned the bully. The bully was almost exiled, and lost the regard he was previously held in.

The objectives of bullies is to acquire power over another person. But if bullying leads to a net loss in power, is it worth it for the bully anymore? Tata Kuvudundu lost his respected position through his bullying. If we asked him (which we can’t, cause he’s a fictional character..) I think it’s pretty likely that he’d regret his bullying, not because of his morals, but simply out of practically.

I know high school is not the same as a Congolese village, but in many ways the communities aren’t so different-there are cliques, outcasts, leaders, and of course, bullies. Another thing that’s prevalent in both is peer pressure. Even if school administrators do nothing, teens can still do their part. It's pretty simple in theory, let a bully know that what they’re doing is not okay. If you see someone mocking someone in the hallway-whether it’s for their sexuality, gender identity or expression, or just for being different-let them know that that’s not cool. Many of us have friends who, while they’re nice to us, are not to others. Tell them to cut it out, or drop ‘em like they’re hot (and not in the good way).

I know that standing up to bullies isn’t easy. But it’s one of the few things teens can actually do to try and stop bullying in their communities.

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§ 1 Response to “What Teens Can Do to Stop Bullying in Their Communities”

  • Kate says:

    Wow, Kyle. This was a powerful post. I completely agree that bullying should not be acceptable under any circumstances, and I can't begin to tell you how angered I am by the expression "Boys will be boys." Everyone should be held accountable for her or his actions, regardless of gender. I'm so glad that you've chosen to take a stand on this issue and for the LGBT community in general. Voices need to be heard, and you're making that happen. Looking forward to hearing what you have to say about discrimination in the future.- Kate H

    P.S. I was very amused by the line, "I know high school is not the same as a Congolese village".

    And if you haven't seen it, you might want to check out Jamie's post "Hold On." It speaks to a lot of the same issues.

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