Yes, bullying is terrible. Yes, we’d all like to see it come to an end and have kids go to school without worrying that they’ll be made fun of (or worse). The thing is, though, that ending bullying for good is going to be about as easy as creating world peace. I’m not joking.
Here’s why: Every middle school and high school in the country is essentially a microcosm of global society. There are groups of people that get along, there are groups that don’t. There are groups that have seriously lost their minds and terrorize other kids both physically and mentally. We’ve all seen videos of kids who’ve been severely bullied, who are terrified to go to school. We’ve seen the photos of the young girls and guys who’ve taken their own lives because they couldn’t stand the daily bullying. Heaven knows we’ve all known a Regina George or two in our day. What goes down in the hallways of our schools is really not that different from the conflicts between different governments and religious groups around the world every day—it’s just on a way smaller scale with (usually) far less grisly outcomes.
All around the world, horrific things happen every day. People are tortured. Women are raped. Innocent people—just normal families, including children—are slaughtered over their religious and political beliefs . . . essentially, because they’re different from other people. The United Nations is not trying to “fix” these devastating events by releasing balloons or selling Lady Gaga notepads to people who’ve suffered because, um, that would be wildly insulting, inappropriate, and insensitive.Similarly, I think all these anti-bullying balloon releases and ridiculous back-to-school accessories are pretty insulting to the kids who feel completely ostracized and scared to be at school. Am I saying bullying is just as serious as global violence? No, in the sense that I think we can all obviously agree that it’s one thing to have your feelings hurt, and an entirely different (not to mention far more awful) thing to have your family killed. Still, I think in a way bullying is a similarly important problem to tackle, because both international violence and school-yard bullying come from the same place: intolerance and hate. And face it, that’s dangerous. The fact that school officials and parent groups keep turning to pixie-dust-filled, feel-good “fixes” tells me (and I think a lot of bullied kids out there) that nobody’s really listening or taking the problem seriously.
I’m not pretending to have the answers here. I don’t know how to stop bullying or create world peace, for that matter. All I’m saying is that we need to wake up and realize that ugly problems rarely have easy fixes. We’re gonna need a whole lot more than a new Lady Gaga song or even a school-wide sing-along to solve this one.
What do you think? Do you think balloon releases can stop bullying or do you think they’re a waste of time? Will you bring Lady Gaga’s anti-bullying school supplies to class with you this fall? What do you think is the real solution to bullying? Tell me in the comments. I really want to hear your thoughts.