Let me start by saying I don’t think bullying is funny. But let me continue by saying that I think KCRA’s new “Bullying is a choice” campaign is hilarious.
Bullying, it’s not a one size fits all problem and there are no easy solutions. But it’s a problem that can no longer be ignored.
There’s no one correct stance, according to KCRA, but I’m supposed to “take a pledge” against it. And the silly word choice doesn’t end there. The page is titled “Bullying Resources, Education.” Is this offering tips on how to get full wetness with your swirlies? Maps to find groups of people playing Magic: The Gathering? Shouldn’t someone have suggested that it should say Anti-Bullying Resources?
But I do have a more serious question: How is bullying not a “one size fits all problem”? I assume that is a reference to cyber bullying. But isn’t the crime of “harassment” used in situations where a victim is not being physically attacked, but subjected to escalating intimidation or verbal attacks? And wouldn’t it be hard to charge harassment for a single verbal attack, just as it would/should be difficult to charge cyber bullying for a single mean Facebook comment?
The gist of the “I Choose” campaign, created by yoursphere.com and KCRA, seems to be that everyone can choose not to engage in bullying behavior. To which I say, in the words of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle: No shit, Sherlock. Is that the best you can do?Apparently this is something that schools are supposed to be teaching:
Unfortunately, a lack of funding and awareness has left many schools without a solid bullying education program for their students.
Also reading and mathematics, but I digress. I assume that the campaign’s educational materials examine the issue with more depth, but the materials don’t seem to be publicly available. As a rallying cry, reminding everyone that they can choose not to act badly, when only a small minority are actually acting badly, seems exceedingly wishy-washy.
The “it’s your choice” approach is more appropriate for victimless or “victim-lite” crimes like drug abuse or digital piracy, where the damage to others is either financial or indirect. Bullying is an aggressive act that society should be able to more strenuously prohibit.
At some public schools the anti-bullying curriculum is to teach kids to “Swim Away” from bullies. I know that Phoebe Hearst Elementary in particular has used this approach. Kids are not even necessarily told they should swim away to tell a responsible adult if they are being mistreated, I think because “tattling” is frowned upon.
I don’t know how far I’d take this charge without investigating it first but to me it seemed to me that grownups can’t be bothered to actually interfere. Which brings us back to “I Choose.” Why get kids right to the door of acting kindly without ushering them inside?
I guess I reluctantly applaud KCRA for doing something about bullying. Just not super clear on what it is.