Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Bullying "epidemic"

       Here's another thing that seems to be "in" right now, bullying awareness. Now I'm in a sense all for ending bullying but the cynic in me can't understand why "awareness" causes seem to take the form of fads. I was bullied as many with or without ASD were. When I look back on it some of it may have been typical "boys will be boys" stuff but other things were just unacceptable. I don't believe there is any bullying "epidemic" anymore than there is an Autism "epidemic". I think today people are just more aware of it and the media goes through many phases of hyping things up- selectively. Years ago if someone was bullied, especially a boy, it was not so much acceptable but seen as some sort of a "rite of passage" and that the famous advice was "hit em back" and there will be some fairy tale like transition to manhood and you will live happily ever after in high school. People tend to oversimplify. Hitting back can mean getting suspended, as for who started it, it's your word against theirs. Also many people with ASD are socially isolated and don't have an entourage of friends to back us up both verbally and physically. Also no simplistic anti-bullying law can stop the subtle passive-aggressive bullying that tends to continue through adulthood. There has to be a culture of inclusion and understanding to get to the root of the problem. While many seem to think letting kids handle bullies themselves teaches self-sufficiency, most would agree that bullying the "special-ed" kids or physically handicapped people is unacceptable. Only thing is many developmental disabilities are invisible, making people seem like fair game. To be honest I think much of this anti-bullying "fad" is focused on issues of sexual orientation and gender expression and perhaps Autism to a lesser extent. Not that I have anything against any of those causes as I support equality and inclusion across the board. I'm not as comfortable with setting aside labeled groups of people as "sacred cows" as this can have an opposite effect and cause hidden resentment and eventually a backlash. Also some of the stories that make the national news as part of this horrific epidemic, while it is unacceptable at all times I can remember some of these things being rather commonplace back when I was in school. While I support putting a stop to bullying as best as we could I don't like hype or spin even if it is to further a cause that I support. This only turns people more callous and jaded later on.

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