I recently wrote of a clarinet student who was bullied into buying or considering “a real mouthpiece”. This happened in a Graduate School.Was this bullying? read on.
With regard to the recent spate of articles and focus upon bullying, one has cause to investigate this rather repugnant term. While the word, indeed the practice is somehow thought of a rite of passage for growing young people, upon further investigation one discovers cases of suicides caused by bullying, having been spied upon with another , was driven to jump from the George Washington Bridge, leaving a note saying simply, “sorry”.
The young man happened to be attending a university in New York State and was a talented violinist. A person living in the room next door, set up a webcam and took a film of an encounter with another man.The person who set up the filming, meant no harm , as he stated later, however the damage was done. A man was dead. The second man is now on trial for invasion of privacy and various othe charges.Of course, the death of the man who was filmed, the film then shared with others in the dormitory, the snickering of those is all part of this fatal indignity. When an adult perpetrates this upon another adult,it is a crime, as it is now being tried. It can never ever be thought of as a passing phase in ones development.This is not one of the first incidents of the practice of bullying resulting in a suicide.
One might say, “oh, it never goes that far. It is an isolated incident”.
But where does this kind of an incident really start?
As a retired university professor with 35 years of teaching experience at all levels, and my wife, at a similar level,wish to say, it starts on the very first day of school. The very first time your son or daughter is teased or made fun of, depending upon the degree of teasing and the recipient of the practice, it is at the onset, an unprovoked assault upon the child.This practice is habitual in early school experiences and can proceed all the way to university, and yes, it can cause horrific results, as in the case of the university student mentioned above. It does with increasing frequency, and we are passing it off as a childish rite of passage.
We all wear a pink shirt or blouse to celebrate “bullying day”
The point becomes the pink blouse, not the childish bullying that causes a talented viollinist or mathametitcian or scientist to commit suicide. Or a basketball or hockey or football player. Or a clarinetist?
The focus must be on the act of teasing or shaming a young person who may be experiencing this truly damaging act for the first time.
It has to be called what it is, and it must be punished, or cutailed in some way as to limit this practice which we say, is rampant in many early schools. It does not stop there.And of corse, if unchecked, it can develop into a lifetime practice of increasing shame and fear and loathing that can result in worse than suicide.
It can and has resulted in bloody murder, even mass murder.
In Canada and in the US, there have been multiple cases of school children obtaining firearms from (usually) parents or relatives , taking them to school and selecting targets that caused them harm either real or imagined.
We read of these many examples and pass them off as somethng that occurs elsewhere, but never here in Cornwall or wherever we hang our hats.
Bullying in its final or earliest form is unprovoked assault, easily as heinous crime as any abuse, whether it be childe abuse in its many forms or just plain old “typical” bullying.
Unprovoked assault should get the perpetrator a stern warning initially, with a promise of time incarcerated. It can lead to a life of crime or tragic abuse, depending upon which end of it you are on.
So, please forget about those pinks shirts, as you already have, and let us as adults, realize that these assaults are what they are and try to curtail and finally stop them.
It must be done pre-emptively where it is easiest to stop and to notice.
sherman and Linda Friedland