If you are of a certain age, you will likely remember the 1989 movie Heathers. The big hair and shoulder pads mark it as part of that decade. The ensemble cast of Winona Ryder, Christian Slater and Shannon Doherty portrayed the angst and animosity inherent in high school bullying and the revenge that was exacted when Ryder’s character was pushed beyond her limits of endurance.
The Evolution of Intimidation
It begins early and with ferocity. Children learn this dynamic via peers, parents and other adults, as well as the media. Put downs, criticism and attempts at thought control plant the seeds for weeds that choke healthy development and thwart emotional intelligence.
The iconic poem speaks to this phenomenon.
Children Learn What They Live by Dorothy Law Nolte, PhD.
If children live with criticism, they learn to condemn. If children live with hostility, they learn to fight. If children live with fear, they learn to be apprehensive. If children live with pity, they learn to feel sorry for themselves. If children live with ridicule, they learn to feel shy. If children live with jealousy, they learn to feel envy. If children live with shame, they learn to feel guilty. If children live with encouragement, they learn confidence. If children live with tolerance, they learn patience. If children live with praise, they learn appreciation. If children live with acceptance, they learn to love. If children live with approval, they learn to like themselves. If children live with recognition, they learn it is good to have a goal. If children live with sharing, they learn generosity. If children live with honesty, they learn truthfulness. If children live with fairness, they learn justice. If children live with kindness and consideration, they learn respect. If children live with security, they learn to have faith in themselves and in those about them. If children live with friendliness, they learn the world is a nice place in which to live.
In adolescent circles, this maltreatment takes the form of gossip and innuendo, ostracizing and shunning, and in recent years, cyber-bullying. By the time youth have reached their teen years, the behavior may be entrenched and require education to change attitude and actions.
The American Society for the Positive Care of Children, explains, “About 28 percent of students ages 12–18 reported being bullied at school, during the school year, according to the Indicators of School Crime and Safety: 2013 report, by the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) and National Center for Education Statistics Institute of Education Sciences (IES). The majority of bullying still takes place at school; 1 in 3 U.S. students say they have been bullied at school, according to the DHHS.”