Bullying and its Effects in Public School
Our society has seemingly recently discovered bullying and its effects in public schooling. As mentioned in The Bully Curriculum, young people have been resisting society’s gender norms breaking from a masculine or feminine type, and this could be a possible cause for the intense amount of bullying as the side effect. Another article which mentions bullying harmful effects is, “Heteronormative Harassment ” Queer Bullying and Gender-Nonconforming Students in fact, 9 out of 10 queer students experience harassment during school. Simply surviving can be a challenge for some groups especially those who have been oppressed for so many years and one can only imagine how rough it can get once bullying is an added factor.
The Bully Curriculum highlights the system’s response to bullying, but also mentions the roots of the problem are not addressed in mainstream education. One “solution” schools have begun to imput is the zero- tolerance bullying policy, but what does this mean exactly? It recognizes the problem in itself, this is a good democratic progressive step, but it does not do enough to create change. It merely cuts off the conversation about bullying entirely by saying bullying, and related conversation is bad, and will not be tolerated. And by cutting the conversation off, it has done the polar opposite of what its meant to do since, “it seems more entrenched in this culture of schooling than ever before” (Carlson, p.176).
One theory suggests that after 9/11 bullying started to get worse in American schools. During this time, anger and resentment towards minorities and muslims took place, and the lgbtq community aswell. Behaviors of discrimination towards subgroups is a learned concept typically by family members since it seems elders tend to have stronger opinions on the past. This can then be brought to the schools by the children of these families and spread amongst the system to create a hostile environment full of resentment and hatred.
During the same article, the author mentions the concept of bullying as a “machine” or “tool.” This presents the perspective that bullying is generally male dominant. As many of us are aware, and I briefly mentioned, most behaviors are learned through culture. This male dominance is neutralized in society and can be seen in relation with women and men who appear to be more “feminine” and the need to prove masculinity. So instead of school systems explaining the generalized hatred, resentment, or dominance many people learn, the teachers learn what to do in a situation of bullying and the kids have a “bully free zone.” The author discusses the common beliefs schools have in perspective to bullying and breaks them down into four categories.
The first, Pathologizing: bullying as an epidemic (infection in a school body). This makes the victim feel ashamed rather than willing to assert their natural rights. The second is naturalizing bullying, saying “boys being boy.” In this perspective it is “natural” to force boys to be tough and assert their dominance amongst others. Next is developmentalism: bullying is something boys will naturally out grow. And lastly, sympathizing: sympathizing with the victims especially after someone commits suicide. Both of these last two relate to another topic discussed in the chapter the “It gets better campaign,” sending the message that it’s okay to suffer now because it will get better in the future. Once again normalizing bullying and the structure it lies within.
Along with the concept of bullying as a or “machine ” of hegemonic masculinities, it also emphasises humans as individuals, each capable of speaking up for themselves to make a difference. Weather it be a child willing to advocate for themselves in the case of being a victim of bullying, or a teacher understanding the categorical traits their school’s system may have in regard to bullying, people themselves have the ability to understand what is “right” and “wrong” based on what they learned as a member in society.
This reminded me of a concept from “Heteronormative Harassment ” Queer Bullying and Gender-Nonconforming Students, where Freud believed that all human beings were innately bisexaul, and are only heterosexual and homosexual as a result of their experiences with parents via nurturing environmental conditions. I find this an interesting concept for many reasons. I imagine everyone bisexual going through the same challenges and bullying decreasing for that reason. If boys were not told who to like and what behaviors were socially accepted by the male population they would feel just as uncomfortable as those who are unaware of what category to fit in. Although queer theory in consideration to mainstream bullying has been institualized, there is an ongoing process of normalization that persists to this day.
By teaching the youth, “It gets better” they see bullying as a process they must go through to one day become rich, famous, and healthy and also teaches the bullies they are doing the right thing by keeping societies structures in place. Teachers need to mention minorities as have always being here, past and present, and respect for these people should have come a long time ago. The educational and democratic response must go above and beyond simply implementing a zero- tolerance bullying policy and reconstruct the physical and mental habits of the school system through collective action, self reflection and the ability to resist societal and cultural norms.
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