I almost passed this article by because I thought it was going to be just another “feel good” article about bullying with no real solutions. I was wrong…
In this post-Columbine, zero-tolerance world, Izzy Kalman is something of a revolutionary. He agrees that bullying is a big problem. But he contends that getting rid of bullies is not the solution (and, in fact, is not even possible). What we have to do, he says, is get rid of victims.
“People have a knee-jerk reaction when they hear that,” said Kalman over lunch last month, while he was in West Palm Beach leading a seminar for school counselors and other mental health professionals. “They say I’m blaming the victims. I’m not blaming the victims, but I am saying that they are the ones who have the problem. Bullies don’t have the problem. They aren’t the ones committing suicide and shooting up schools. Those are the victims, and those are the ones whose behavior we need to change.”
Kalman, who spent 26 years as a school psychologist and private psychotherapist, wants to make something clear. He is not saying bullying is good. He’s saying it’s inevitable, a natural byproduct of human nature. He’s also saying that, to the extent it helps teach kids resilience and self-sufficiency, it’s useful. And he’s saying that, unless it causes physical harm, it’s also legal, protected under the Constitution.
“Our Constitution guarantees the right to free speech,” he says. “And that means the right to tell someone they are a big, fat idiot if we want to. Kids today are growing up with the idea that nobody can ever say anything mean to them. We are raising a generation of emotional marshmallows. We’re promoting learned helplessness. And I am really concerned that when these kids grow up, they are going to be unable to handle adversity of any kind, because we learn to handle adversity from dealing with the fairly simple difficulties of childhood.”
Like being called a big, fat idiot by the class bully.
Read the rest of the article. It’s definitely worth it.