Dr. Wayne Baker is away this week.
Guest columnist Joe Grimm teaches journalism at Michigan State University and is leading a team of students researching the red-hot issue of bullying. Policy-makers nationwide are looking for guidance on how to tackle this problem. You can read more from Joe’s students at an MSU student-run website.
You can make a difference by reading this column, then adding a comment below.
This is Joe Grimm’s 2nd of five columns …
Some people are telling our MSU reporting team that the definition of bullying has been stretched too far. In blunt terms, these critics say: All this anti-bullying stuff is wuss-ifying America!
We now have a cyberbullying definition and one for bullycide, terms we didn’t even have 15 years ago. Whether or not social aggression is growing—there is no doubt the dictionary is. Social exclusion, in which a group shuns someone, is now part of the bullying lexicon, stretching it even further. Legal bullying definitions are evolving, too, as are laws about it. Some say that the complaints, the laws, the lawsuits are an overreaction.
Last week, in a program titled “Electric Cars and the Wussificaton of America,” Rush Limbaugh said we are inventing terms and traumas to describe all of our difficulties. He said, “I’m not denying the stress is real, but I don’t think we know what it really is compared to our parents and grandparents. But we make it real. I mean, it paralyzes us. There’s no question it does. And the way we deal with things today versus the way they used to be dealt with, such as bullies?”
We generate reams of bullying information for kids. We have them make anti-bullying posters. They fill out bullying questionnaires at school. We used to show kids how to stand their ground. We used to call it growing up. Now, instead of fighting back, they post bullying songs on YouTube or role-play in bullying games.
A new book by Mei-Long Hopgood, “How Eskimos Keep Their Babies Warm,” says that teachers in Japan let students work their differences out on their own, even if someone gets shoved. They turn out fine. Americans and Japanese teachers seem to have very different approaches to aggression.
What do you say?
Is our focus on bullying going to wussify America?
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Originally published at www.OurValues.org, an online experiment in civil dialogue.