The world will be a perfect place if we just pass anti-bullying laws that outlaw bullying, incivility, intolerance, dirty looks, disagreements that are not pleasant, and just about anything else that is not Kumbaya. At least that seems to be the perspective of anti-bullying activists who have jumped on the bullying bandwagon the past few years.
Well here’s some news, my friends: While the Lion King movie may suggest otherwise, the world is not Hakuna Matata (“no worries”). It never has been. It sure isn’t now. And it never will be.
Oh my. I’ve just destroyed the fantasy. I must be evil. This message just couldn’t be coming from a school safety advocate.
It is coming from a school safety advocate. One who wants peaceful, safe and orderly schools. But I also want kids to be raised in reality, not taught falsely that the government (including schools) can force people to be nice and even criminalize their “bullying” behaviors.
Many of those behind the anti-bullying movement are well-intended. But their premise is ill-conceived. We should teach kids that certain behaviors are appropriate for certain settings, that some behaviors are inappropriate for all settings, and that there are consequences for inappropriate behaviors when they occur.
But as psychologist Izzy Kalman points out in his article, “How to Create Utopian Schools“:
“Anti-bully activists want children to be schooled in a completely safe environment in which everyone is always nice to them. They want kids to be free from fear that anyone will ever insult them, talk about them behind their back, notice their imperfections, exclude them from a group, laugh at them when they say something stupid, lay an unwanted hand on them, draw an unflattering picture of them or write something nasty about them on the Internet. Perhaps the reason the anti-bully activists don’t announce that their goal is Utopia is that such a goal sounds unrealistic and unachievable.”
Kalman argues that in a truly Utopian society, people would create peace and harmony by promotion of wisdom and actions based on solid moral principles, aka: The Golden Rule.
I recently stumbled on Kalman’s column entitled A Psychological Solution to Bullying on Psychology Today’s web site. I encourage you to read his series of articles. He refreshingly brings to life many common sense, valid points that most activists on the bullying bandwagon won’t want to hear.
As a parent and as a school safety professional, I want to see kids taught the truth that the world is not perfect, everyone will not get along, and we all need to have the skills to function in a peaceful, respectful and non-violent way when people are mean, ugly bullies. It happens in schools. It happens in the workplace. It happens in the Congress and White House.
To think that we can create Utopia is unrealistic. To falsely teach kids that we can do so sets them up for failure by sending them out into the real world with false hopes and no coping skills. This is perhaps the biggest act of cruelty anyone can perform.
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