Rebecca Black and Bullying

NAVA BRAHE: Bullying pisses me off – and don’t for a second think that kids are the only ones guilty of it; adults are just as culpable.

When I read the story about Rebecca Black leaving school for being bullied for the success of her “Friday” music video, I was upset, but I also had a revelation: grown-ups have become obsessed with protecting their kids from bullies, but who is preventing the grown-ups from bullying each other? It’s a conundrum I never before contemplated, but the more I think about it, the more it makes sense. Kids aren’t the only ones doing it.

The extent of Black’s bullying doesn’t seem all that dire: taunts of, “Oh hey, Rebecca, guess what day it is?” or singing her song in a “nasally” voice don’t seem all that serious. But, according to the article, she received death threats as well. Those are no joke.

I’m far removed from my teen years so maybe I don’t quite remember what it was like to be “picked on”. That’s what we called it back in the 70s and 80s. Nobody back then was bullied. There were “bullies” and yes, I was picked on.

Bullying really came to the forefront last year after the tragic death of Tyler Clementi, a student at Rutgers University who jumped off the George Washington Bridge in fear of being outed as gay by his roommate, who it turned out was spying on him. Word of that story floored me, and a few days ago, revelations of the relationship between Clementi and his roommate, Dharun Ravi, were reported in the New York Times, claiming that Ravi was “fixated” on Clementi’s sexual orientation, rather than blasé, as originally thought. I seriously doubt we’ll ever know what really happened, and the intense focus on bullying, whether online or in real life, has managed to preoccupy us to the point of obsession.

How does Rebecca Black’s bullying episode rank among the stunts pulled by the really cruel, heartless little shits that populate our schools? Not very high on the chart, in my opinion. The death threats were a serious thing, but who among us hasn’t dealt with a little teasing now and again? When did it become okay for kids to have such thin skin? And when did it become okay for adults to perpetuate the bullying behavior of kids? I think that’s the real problem here.

Children are products of the environment they are raised in. Before I go any further, let me disclaim everything that follows by revealing that I don’t have children of my own. What I do know is that if a child sees mommy and daddy indulging in a certain form of behavior, chances are, the child will emulate it. If mommy and daddy don’t treat each other respectfully, then the likelihood of junior going out in the world and acting disrespectfully is a certainty. That’s where I think bullying comes from. And if mommy and daddy are stirring the pot at home, chances are they’re stirring the pot in the workplace, too. I can’t tell you how many workplace bullies I’ve run across in my life; not to mention friends and family members who believe it’s their way or the highway. Adult bullying isn’t always as in-your-face as the adolescent variety, but it can do just as much, if not more damage. Think about it.

A Facebook friend of mine once posted this as her status:

“The traditional view of a bully is someone who picks on weaker people for fun, but in my experience the worst bullies think they are evening the score by harming those they see as unfairly advantaged. And since envy isn’t an acceptable reason to hate someone, they’ll invent crimes to justify their bullying.”

Kinda says it all, don’t you think?



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