Several of my neighbours have advised that their children had been targets of school bullying. In recent years, several school-aged children have ended their lives due to school and online bullying. This author is of the view that there has been an increase in the frequency and severity of both physical and emotional bullying involving school-aged children, including girl-on-girl bullying.
Throughout human history until recent decades, people lived in extended family groups that included grandparents, parents, uncles and aunts as well as children who were either siblings and/or cousins. Children have emotional needs and extended families traditionally were able to provide for the emotional needs of acceptance, validation, approval, acknowledgement and other positive emotional interactions. An extended family could provide emotionally for children during times when their biological parents may have felt exhausted, ill or overwhelmed.
Numerous studies done on fatherless boys revealed an increased tendency toward gang membership. Gangs become substitute families that provide the approval, acceptance, recognition, validation, status and acknowledgement that developing boys crave. Adept gang leaders are keenly aware of this and may actively encourage members to engage in acts that the rest of society may find reprehensible. After having committed such an act, a gang leader may address a member in the presence of his peers, “Well done my man, you’ve done me proud!”
During the pre-civil rights period in the USA, many southern white men were members of the Ku Klux Klan. They delivered frequent beatings on black men who at the time were referred to as “Negroes”, even killing them in southern states such as Alabama and Mississippi. KKK members who committed such acts often received tacit approval and acknowledgement from their peers for their actions. Their KKK peers may have held public office or may have occupied a profession.
The attacks on “Negroes” served a dual purpose of bonding members of the KKK brotherhood while restraining the upward mobility of the southern black population. Modern bullying seems to follow a similar pattern in that the attacks on the targets or victims serves as a bonding exercise for members of an exclusive school clique, while restraining the victim in their pursuit of academic achievement as well as social acceptance, approval, recognition and acknowledgement by peers.
There was a period when the majority of Francophone citizens in Quebec and in Eastern Ontario worked for British owned industries. Except that a qualified and competent Francophone had no chance of being promoted into company management, the exclusive domain of the “old boys”. It was not uncommon for new managers from the UK to be heard making derogatory and condescending remarks about Francophone workers, showing a marked preference for their Anglophone counterparts.
Management’s preferential behaviour in this regard spilled out on to the streets of Montreal and even in Cornwall ON, resulting in Francophone people being treated as second-class citizens and becoming targets for Anglophone bullies. A Francophone male could be beaten up for walking along a sidewalk “on the wrong side of the road” by a gang of Anglophone thugs who emulated the behaviour of the KKK in Alabama and Mississippi.
Economic change closed the British-owned smokestack industries and gave rise to new industries that promoted on the basis of ability and competence, regardless of ethnic or cultural origin. Anglophones had the choice of either working under a non-Anglophone manager, engineer or scientist, or seeking employment elsewhere. Change in the economy curtailed the once rampant inter-cultural bullying.
Bullying – Bonding:
Back during 2006, police in Johannesburg, South Africa arrested members of a teenage gang that had committed gang rape. A psychologist interviewed gang members individually and inquired if they had enjoyed the act and how they felt about themselves while they were committing the act. None of the gang members enjoyed the act, instead advising that they felt dirty and degraded while doing the act. When asked why they did the act, each member replied that they “looked good in front of fellow gang members, from whom they received encouragement, approval, acceptance, recognition, validation and a sense of status. School gangs or cliques follow an almost identical theme.
The Milgrim and Zimbardo Experiments:
University psychology professors Dr Stanley Milgrim and Dr Philip Zimbardo conducted a series of experiments during the 1960’s and 1970’s that involved bullying behaviour. In the Milgrim experiments, a “supervisor” was to deliver a jolt of electricity to a “subordinate” for having committed and error. The “subordinate” was in another room and merely responded as if they were receiving electrical shocks. A “superior” urged the “supervisor” to deliver increasingly lethal electric shocks. Most “supervisors” increased voltage to the fatal level.
Internet cyber-bullying follows the same theme as the Milgrim experiment, except the “supervisor” may be peers and the result has been “subordinates” or other kids being abused to the point of committing suicide. In the Zimbardo experiment, one group of university students volunteered to be prisoners while another group of students volunteered to be prison guards (who received no formal training). The experiment had to be cut short due to the abusive behaviour exhibited by the “gang prison guards” who exhibited similar behaviour as the Johannesburg gang rape gang.
The promise of approval from a “superior” or peer motivated “subordinates” and fellow “prison guards” to increase the level of abuse that they inflicted on people over whom they could exert power. Some elements of the Zimbardo experiment seem present when school cliques and gangs engage in bullying a target. Once the abuse begins, peer support within the gang or clique increases the abuse to the point where the target changes schools, moves to an entire new location or commits suicide.
Envy – Historical:
During the 1960’s, German psychologist Dr Helmut Schoeck published a treatise entitled “Theory of Envy” in which he describes the behaviour of people who are motivated to thwart their peers socially, academically and professionally. They may begin rumours about peers to damage their standing, or perhaps damage some one else’s property so that do get to enjoy the use of that property.
Some 200-years before Schoeck, another theorist named Alexis de Toqueville wrote about the behaviour of the French upper class who were almost identical to the nobility, who enjoyed a few extra privileges due to birth. Toqueville theorized that people are most envious of those who are most like them. In France, the upper class agitated for political change and riled the lower classes to rise up against the nobility prior to the French Revolution.
Envy – Bullying:
The KKK gained prominence in the southern USA following the emancipation of slaves. One former noteworthy slave, Booker T. Washington taught himself to read and write and founded the Tuskegee School, today a university. As former slaves learnt to read, write and acquire numerical skills, some of them started businesses and began to participate in the world of commerce, just like the white folk. Except that some former slaves became quite successful in business, journalism, education and a few other professions. The KKK rose to prominence as former slaves achieved a measure of success, perhaps the result of envy.
Former slaves could only achieve success if customers were willing to freely patronize black-owned businesses, read columns written by black journalists or attend theatrical performances that featured black actors. The black people had achieved some popularity in their communities, that is, they had earned the respect, the patronage, acceptance, approval, validation and acknowledgement of other people. KKK members responded by burning down black-only schools, black-owned businesses and black-owned newspapers. They simultaneously incurred the fear of the black community plus the approval and acknowledgment of their KKK peers.
Envy – Bullying – Genocide:
Canadian General Romeo D’Allaire commanded the UN troops in the war torn nations of Rwanda and Burundi, where members of Hutu and Tutsi tribes who had previously lived in peaceful co-existence. A few who sought political power had played on the subtle differences between the 2-tribes, to the point of incurring envy and hatred that culminated in an extreme form of bullying, genocide. In Serbia, Muslim and Christian had for decades lived in peaceful harmony until political people played on the subtle differences between people who shared more in common, than differences. The envy evolved into mass bullying and genocide.
Competition – Animal World:
Predator animals such as lions, leopards and cheetahs often kill off each other’s young offspring, possibly to reduce competition in the search for food. The alpha female in certain pack animals such as wolves, African hunting dogs and even meerkats have been observed as bullying other subordinate females as a means of maintaining their status as the lead female. The intensity of the bullying may drive subordinate females from the pack.
In the animal world, carnivore predators almost consistently seek out weakness in their prey. They go after very young animals, very old animals or animals recovering from an injury or that may otherwise exhibit vulnerability. Predator animals observe body language to select targets as a potential meal, while alpha females in packs drive out potential rivals while they still vulnerable.
In the human world, children may enact behaviour from the animal world when confronting potential competition. Adolescent girls may behave as alpha females from the world of pack animals when encountering a potential rival for the attention of boys or significant adults. There are numerous cases of young girls “being driven out of the pack” and had to change schools and even committed suicide as a result of girl-on-girl emotional bullying.
Envy – Girls:
Medical textbooks published prior to 1920 advise of girls experiencing their first menstrual period at the ages of 17 to 19-years, when most girls are graduating from secondary school. At that age, girls have matured emotionally to manage the physical changes that occur quite naturally. By that age many decades ago, families had arranged or assisted for their daughters to get married. Society had provided a solution for girls as they acquired the ability to reproduce. The result was that very few girls committed acts of bullying as they competed in attracting the attention of men.
At the present day across much of Western Europe and North American, a large percentage of girls are entering puberty at ages 9 to 11-years, perhaps the result of growth hormones being injected into beef cattle and other additives and chemicals in the food and the environment. The result is a girl related problem in the public schools and in the junior high schools that never existed a few decades ago. It is unlikely that most girls ages 9 to 11-years have evolved the emotional maturity to cope with the rapidly developing ability to reproduce.
The result is a near epidemic of girl-on-girl emotional bullying, at school and via the telecommunications media, as girls compete for the attention of boys and significant others while they maintain a sense of exclusivity amongst members of their cliques. Individually and in cliques, a percentage of school-aged girls are enacting the bullying behaviour of an alpha female wolf maintaining her special status in the pack, even to the point of driving potential rivals from the pack.
Envy –Bullying – Boys:
School bullying invariably involves somebody acting out envy or achieving status, approval, acknowledgement and validation at the expense of a peer. The behaviour is usually intended to inflict harm, that is, inflict physical or emotional injury on a peer who may share more in common with the attacker, than differences. There have been several incidents of bullying against boys who have been perceived as being homosexual.
Research into reduced fertility in boys suggests that pharmaceuticals and chemicals that are being dumped into the rivers and streams, may be affecting the development of boys. It is very possible that chemical pollutants in the water and food supply may be affecting the puberty of boys, perhaps even causing the emergence of homosexuality in a portion of population. In the minds of school bullies, the origins of homosexuality are irrelevant and they may likely regard a homosexual peer as a target for bullying.
The result has been several killings of homosexual youth in parts of the USA and extreme harassment of openly gay peers, including to the point of driving them to suicide. Bullying an openly gay youth may serve as a bonding exercise for a school youth gang, much as the bullying behaviour against southern black people by the KKK served as a bonding rite for them. Perhaps with a few very minor differences, both gay and non-gay bullying targets may share much in common emotionally, intellectually and psychologically with their attackers.
Schools represent 2-sides of the drug trade that include marijuana, crack cocaine and prescription medications. Every school shooter across the USA (including the shooters at Columbine High School) and Canada was on some form of prescription anti-depressant. Some 14-million school children across the USA are on prescription medication, usually an anti-depressant. This author is aware of several teenagers who were on prescription anti-depressants and committed suicide. Children on prescription medication and girls entering puberty at a younger age represent potential earnings for politically well-connected pharmaceutical companies.
Parents worldwide are becoming disillusioned with government-run schools and are taking action. Some 250,000-children across the USA and Canada have been successfully home-schooled and many have been accepted into institutions of higher learning. Between 2010 and 2011, some 50-new private schools opened across Canada during a period of declining student enrolments in the government schools. Worldwide, new private schools are opening and perhaps as a result of the failure of government run schools to remedy problems such as rampant bullying.
When there is a dysfunction in a family, the children may become depressed, they may be bullied or become bullies. The rampant bullying that occurs in state-run schools is a symptom of a problem. Previous attempts to address the bullying problem such as “zero tolerance”, has failed. A skillful clique of students can pick a target, bully the target and create a situation where teachers identify the bullied target as being the aggressor. Skillful bullies have even bullied teachers, several of whom have resigned across Canada.
There is a problem of bullying in the government run schools. Previous solutions such as “zero tolerance” may sound plausible, except that such so-called solutions have failed to stem the tide of bullying. The political approach to solving the bullying problem has turned some teachers into the “subordinates” in a version of a Milgrim experiment, except that the problem persists. Perhaps it may not be possible for politics to solve the bullying problem in government run schools.
Harry Valentine, Cornwall Ontario
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