This just in: Some people are assholes and some of those people are kids. Also, water is wet and it’s never a good idea to release killer bees at your wedding (yeah, I’m talking to you, CleverGuy).
Ever since Oog and Gork were little cave babies, playing happily on the rocks until Oog decided to beat the crap out of Gork with a stick because hey, why the hell not?- kids have been assholes to one another.
Pile up anything – rocks, leaves, snow, recycling, whatever – and some kid is gonna get up there and starting singing “I’m the kind of the castle and you’re a dirty asshole rascal” and shove every other kid down the pile.
Gork has a couple of choices once Oog picks up that stick. He can go find something else to do and take the fun out of being an asshole. He can go get his own stick (and probably get an even worse beating), he can turn around and beat up some other kid who is even smaller, he can suck-up to Oog and try and cajole him into being less of an asshole, or he can just take it and hope things gets better.
The one thing he CAN’T do is go crying to his mommy, because that will make him a pussy and a crybaby and a suckhole and he will be in for even WORSE if he does that kind of shit.
Gork is fucked.
Ooga and Gorka don’t have it any better. They don’t hit each other with sticks very often, but words can carry a sting sharper than any willow switch, and that’s how the girls beat the crap out of each other. Ooga has the nicest hair. Everyone else’s hair is ugly, especially yours, Gorka! Damn, you are one fat, ugly little bitch.
How in the hell did we ever survive all these tiny little assholes terrorizing the weak and the vulnerable?
What’s that you say? Adult supervision? Grown-ups involved in their children’s lives, monitoring and noticing and taking action to keep the assholes from getting out of control?
Shut up! That won’t work.
Here’s a study out of Duke University that tracked the effects of bullying over the course of 20 years. None of it is particularly surprising. Victims suffer lifelong pain and depression and are more prone to suicide. Bullies are more likely to have anti-social personality disorders (another word for permanent asshole) and the kids who were BOTH victims and bullies have the most problems.
What I find most interesting about this study is the conclusion the researchers came to: we need to focus more on children’s peers than on what’s happening in their families. Children, who clearly do NOT have the maturity, empathy or experience to understand what the longterm consequences of being an asshole are going to be SHOULD have the maturity, empathy and experience to manage themselves in a complex world with little to no adult supervision.
This is the same stupid argument the anti-slut shamers use: teenagers do NOT have the maturity and experience to critique their peers in constructive ways, but they DO have the maturity and experience to understand the implications of dressing like a prostitute.
Here: Eat this cake. Now have it, too.
There’s something else nefarious buried in this little study, too. Bullying was self-reported. That means as long as a kid FELT like they had been bullied, it was treated as an episode of bullying. That’s a nice little trick, isn’t it? Let’s quietly remove all objective standards of what does and does not constitute bullying and then encourage our special, special snowflakes to take only their own perspective: what you FEEL is the only thing that matters. If you feel like you were raped bullied, then you were.
Self-reporting as a research methodology is flawed for precisely the above noted problem: in the absence of objective measures, people can cast themselves as victims as long as they FEEL like victims. The fact that they may themselves be gigantic assholes disappears down the rabbit-hole, and all they’re left with is a label:
Here’s the problem with this kind of research: allowing individuals to cast themselves in their own little narratives based on an emotional reaction while ignoring or denying how they may have been complicit in their treatment removes any concept of agency or responsibility. The idea that human interactions are complicated and nuanced disappears. The researchers allow for children who are both bullies and victims, but it comes in the form of A bullied B and then B bullied C.
Not that A is sometimes the aggressor and sometimes the victim, and that B is sometimes the aggressor and sometimes the victim in their RELATIONSHIP TO ONE ANOTHER.
Madysen started a rumor that Shelby sucked off the whole rugby team which makes Madysen a bully and poor Shelby the victim! Shelby tweeted pictures of Madysen puking up her lunch in the ladies room and Shelby is STILL the victim. Why? Because she feels like she is.
Let’s be clear: I’m not saying there are NO situations in which one person is a complete and total asshole to another person who has never responded with aggression or done anything to invite such treatment other than simply exist. There are a whole lot of fat people/short people/ugly people/mentally challenged people who can tell harrowing stories of being the target of straight up bullying.
This is not a denial that bullying exists. Not at all. But in order to define and identify bullies, we’re going to need some objective standards. Some way to monitor and intervene in what kids are doing, because they WILL BE ASSHOLES at some point or another.
How did Madysen get that rumor about Shelby out so quickly and so thoroughly? Oh, she used Facebook? She wrote some clever tweets to back that up? She pinned a bunch of lollipops on Pinterest and tagged them all “Shelby”?
What a bitch!
Who is responsible for Madysn’s behaviour? Well, Madysn, obviously, but she needs to be taught that. She needs to have standards set for her, boundaries enforced and consequences applied. And who should do that?
The teachers! Wait, no. Shelby! Shelby should have to do that! Madysn’s friends? Yeah, them, too. They should all be monitoring Madysn and making sure she’s not as asshole. Let’s throw in Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny, too.
They are all responsible for teaching Madysn not to be such a fucking cunt.
Obviously, Madysn’s parents are the ones who should be monitoring and guiding the little asshole they have created. It’s probably pretty safe to assume they don’t give a rat’s ass about her, would never “violate her privacy” online and they let her sleep with her iPhone so she can send heinous texts about other girls at 2AM and maybe a few topless photos to that guy she likes.
Madysn’s parents aren’t the only grown-ups who have some responsibility here: WE ALL DO. The girls who giggled over Madysn’s lollipop board? They’re assholes, too. The ones who retweeted Madysn’s clever missives about what a slut Shelby is? Yep – assholes.
All those girls have parents. It is our responsibility as parents to notice what our kids are up to, especially on line. And lest you think I’m only trashing girls here, let me assure you: boys get up to this shit as well, but it usually takes the form of PHYSICAL bullying, which does not absolve parents whatsoever.
Logan and Perry need guidance and instruction and boundaries and consequences too.
It is completely absurd to think that OTHER CHILDREN can be held responsible for what kids do. Peers may have a huge influence on our children, but ultimately, we are the ones responsible for them, for their health and safety and happiness, both mental and physical. The epidemic of depression and anxiety crippling young people is a direct result of parents refusing to accept responsibility for their own children, and refusing to take a stand and shut their kids down when they’re being dicks.
Your children are not special, you can’t make other people responsible for them, and if you look closely, you might just discover that your special little snowflake is actually, oops, an asshole.
Do your job. Teach your kids to be human. To accept responsibility for their own actions. Make them face consequences for poor behavior. Start by looking in the mirror and accept a bit of responsibility yourself.
In other words, don’t be an asshole.
Lots of love,