Bullies Are Made, Not Born

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bully kidsI am glad there is so much attention given to the issue of bullying in schools. Awareness is the first step towards change. It saddens me when I see how mean spirited young people can be towards others.

Upon reflection though, I realized that is likely what they see all around them. What do I mean by this? Consider that children may grow up hearing their mother and her friends gossiping about and criticizing other adults or children in the neighborhood. They may hear parents saying unkind things about relatives. How about parents discussing work and tearing down the boss or fellow workers? If the family belongs to a church, they may even hear others in the congregation being criticized for lack of involvement, or any other reason. Driving in the car, they may hear parents comment negatively about other drivers, or the physical appearance of pedestrians on the street.

None of this goes unnoticed. Hearing these kinds of things teaches children that it is okay to say mean things. It models for them an attitude of superiority: we are better than they are. They also learn to polarize – we are the good guys, they are the bad guys.

How often do we hear adults shaking their heads while commenting : “kids can be so mean.” If we really want to change things, it is time we seriously looked at how they get to be that way.

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