Bullying is Socially Rooted as we Teach and Train Bullies: What will it take for us to stop?
A social epidemic and in a sense a spiritual cancer seems epistemic throughout the root of our social fabric. The essence of this epidemic is the persistence of bullying rooted in the demonization of others based on differentiating characteristics, namely sexual orientation.
For the sake of presenting this article in an abbreviated form, I am going to merely speak of bullying in terms of children and schools. Readers do not assume bullying only occurs in schools or that it only impacts children. For the sake of providing clarification I am providing an expansive definition to include all aspects of bullying. Our society at large is not only responsible but we are also victims of bullying whether by direct or indirect consequences.
Bullying is defined as persistent unwelcome behavior that is unwarranted or invalid criticism, nit-picking, fault-finding, exclusion, isolation, being singled out, being treated differently, being shouted at, humiliated, excessive monitoring written or imposed. Workplace bullying shares overlapping characteristics with respect to schools including cyber-bullying such as documenting or berating employees via e-mail or other online communication modality. In schools the most persistent type of bullying is name-calling, teasing, exclusion, violent physical contact, threats, and cyber-bullying.
I was recently e-mailed yet another article which you can read at http://www.cnn.com/2009/US/04/23/bullyingsuicide/index.html regarding the story of Jaheem Herrera an eleven year old child that hung himself in response to being excessively bullied. He was taunted and called gay’ and virgin’. The latter taunt a result of him being from the Virgin Islands. The name-calling rooted in mere taunting with no formative reason. There are many more stories similar to this one, many more that we remain uninformed of, and this is what is disturbing.
Regardless, the argument I wish to make or shall I say my plea, is that we stop promoting or supporting institutions that allow and perpetuate violence against individuals or children because of differentiating characteristics, namely those rooted in sexual orientation given that the attention has turned from racial bullying since that is no longer acceptable or permissible. In addition, that we provide protection for schools and their leadership to promote and instill additional interventions to eliminate bullying relating to sexual orientation.
Schools adopt anti-bullying programs but are restrained by pressure to maintain political balance between parents and community leaders, including religious leaders within the community that have views rooted in their religion and thus indirectly promote and support the bully’s contempt toward the victim indirectly by promoting the notion that sexual orientation other than heterosexual is a sin. This serves as the bases of what promotes the mindset for the bully’s mentality.
Schools that implement the Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) attempt to educate and disseminate information about issues relating to sexual orientation and the differentiating factors that ensue and in turn are bombarded with students complaining of how they are treated and bullied in their own homes and at school by peers, parents, and teachers.
The true educational process which mostly occurs in the home must include the community at large and the facts remain that divergent opinions relating to whether sexual orientation is rooted in morality or a genetic predisposition is mute as most religious leaders and institutions continually promote anti-gay doctrine which then spills into the home, and thus provides grounds for the demonization of individuals with set differentiation characteristics.
Teacher training has been adopted in many school districts for the purpose of confronting this issue yet walking through the hall way you can see and hear slurs and comments from teachers as well sharing the same anti-gay mentality.
The concept of sexuality requires a deeper and more intensive and broader approach in that is requires a revamping of our concept of humanity and awareness of our own comfort within the scope of our sexuality.
The concept of praying a teenager straight is the typical misconception of over zealous religious individuals. In a sense I will advocate that in the case of a child that is perhaps merely going through the hormonal frenzy we all endure throughout our formative developmental teenage years, then in that sense, I can understand the application of prayer and familial support. This however is a message that is misunderstood and/or confused with anti-gay undertones indicating that being homosexual or bisexual let alone transgender is derogatory in nature.
Continuum theories support the notion that if we were to look at human sexuality in terms of a spectrum much like a rainbow we would find that there are infinite potential outcomes for individuals relating to sexuality. Namely that as in any continuum there are extremes and there are those in between. In a sense, the extremes are heterosexual and homosexual and those in the middle of the road are bi-sexual. The website: http://www.thebody.com/whatis/art2449.html mentions that in a national survey of 1,752 college students found that 48% of self-identified gay and bisexual college students became aware of their sexual preference in high school while 26% found their true sexuality while attending college.
The preconception that if one associates with gays that one is gay or will turn gay as if a magic switch exists; I humorously confess most students I speak to have stated that if they had that magic knob they would turn it in the direction leading them to social conformity to avoid being bullied.
If religious leaders and politicians that are influenced politically or otherwise by similar viewpoints would focus on enhancing the very fabrics of our society and begin to adopt doctrine that promotes peace, amicability, and embrace human diversity then many of these issues which are perhaps even unspoken but received as perhaps erroneous undertones will dissipate and perhaps the social cancers eating away at our humanity will cease to exist.
I present this article to you with a broken heart on behalf of students who have taken their lives, have been killed in the name of anti-gay religious and/or social bashing, and those who I currently teach and assist who endure. You are not alone there many on your side willing and wanting to help you overcome human ignorance.