by Izzy Kalman (May 2008)A couple of weeks ago (April 20) marked the 9th anniversary of the Columbine massacre, the event that gave rise to the most massive witch-hunt in human history, the anti-bully movement. In our zeal to prevent further Columbine-type events, our society has decided to target “bullies,” in the naïve belief that such a campaign will prevent these horrible acts. The number of States that have adopted school anti-bullying laws has grown to 35. Meanwhile, we can’t figure out why bullying appears to be skyrocketing during the same period that anti-bullying programs, policies and education are proliferating. Can’t anyone make the connection between increased anti-bully efforts and increased bullying? Apparently not.
A year ago, I wrote a newsletter article about Japan’s experience with bullying. After a decade of government-mandated school anti-bullying regulations, articles hit our newspapers informing us that bullying was found to have become a more intense problem in Japan. Did anyone put two-and-two together? No. A year later, Japan is still continuing to battle bullying in schools, and more news has emerged from Japan about the intensification of the bullying problem.
A year from now we will commemorate the ten year anniversary of the Columbine massacre, and we will undoubtedly be bombarded with more articles calling for the need to stop bullying. Will we go the way of the Japanese and refuse to draw the conclusion that anti-bully crusades cause more harm than good? I doubt it. I am the only person in the world I know of who is writing anything critical of the anti-bully movement, and I am not likely to get the whole world to see the error of its ways, especially when State after State passes anti-bullying laws that force schools to treat bullying as a crime.
The Anti-Bully Movement is a Witch-Hunt
The anti-bully movement is being presented as a science-based campaign to solve a problem, but the only thing scientific about it is that scientists are involved. A witch-hunt is still a witch-hunt regardless of who does the hunting.
Witches are usually pictured as long-chinned women with hairy warts, flying on brooms and wearing tall, pointy hats, but witch-hunters of old realized that witches look like everyone else. Everyone, therefore, was under suspicion. Usually, all that was needed to have someone condemned as a witch was to accuse them of being one.
Bullies are usually portrayed either as big, dumb-looking brutes picking on people weaker than themselves or, more symbolically, as devils with horns and tails. But real-life bullies, like witches, look just like anyone else. (In fact, as I have explained in the past, the evil bullies are not other people; they are us.) So trained experts come into our children’s schools, instructing kids how to recognize their classmates who are bullies, to realize how terrible they are, not to be like them, to have no tolerance or respect for them, and to turn them in to the authorities to be exorcised. Usually, all that’s needed to get someone condemned as a bully is to accuse them of being one, for it is the kid claiming to be a victim who determines who the bully is. While we are too humane today to burn bullies at the stake, many anti-bully zealots sound as if they pine for the days of yore when burning at the stake was considered “best practice” in dealing with evil. In any case, we are becoming pretty successful at ruining the lives of those who get accused of being bullies.
Witch-hunts are started when some catastrophe–usually an epidemic–occurs. Not knowing the true cause of the catastrophe, people blame witches. Angry mobs then set out to hunt down the evil witches among them and burn them at the stake. Of course the “witches” burned alive are not the causes of the epidemic, so the epidemic continues. However, burning witches sure makes people feel better. And since no one thinks of themselves as witches, everyone is gung ho about the witch-hunt. Witch-hunters never see the evil in themselves. They do not realize that the truly evil actions are committed not by witches, but by the witch-hunters who are pursuing and burning witches.
Our current witch-hunt was spawned in response to the Columbine massacre, the most horrendous in the series of school shootings plaguing the U.S. to that date (the more recent Virginia Tech shooting killed many more). We became determined to prevent such incidents at all costs. Because these school shootings were all committed by victims of bullying, our experts determined that the cause of the school shooting epidemic is bullies. If we would only eradicate bullies, they concluded, our schools would become happy, victim-free places with no one wanting to shoot up anyone else.
However, school shootings are not committed by bullies, but by people who feel like victims. The only place where everyone is always nice to each other is Heaven. One of the unfortunate aspects of life is having to deal with people who treat us in ways we don’t like to be treated. Bullying is an inevitable part of life and we all need to learn to deal with it and, unfortunately, most people never do. That’s why most of us have others–usually family members–who are bullying us, and all of our efforts to make them stop fail. In fact, as I show at my seminars, the things we do to make people stop bullying us actually makes them continue!
Today, though, we are not allowed to suggest that victims have anything to do with the way they are treated. So, rather than dealing with the real problem, which is not knowing what to do when people bully us, we are blaming bullies and trying to punish them out of existence. Society is trying to solve the wrong problem with the wrong solution, so the bullying problem escalates, shootings continue, and the witch-hunt gains momentum and becomes mandated by the law.