What bullying teaches

UNIVERSE WITHIN by Gwen Randall-Young

Portrait of Gwen Randall-Young

Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries.
Without them, humanity cannot survive.
The Compassionate Life, the Dalai Lama

At the same time the media was flooded with stories about teen suicide as a result of bullying, I had a mom bring in her seven-year-old daughter to talk about friends. It seems her best friend was in a different class this year and this best friend had made a new friend whom I will call Kelly.

At recess, when the old friend wanted to play with them, Kelly announced they just wanted to play by themselves so the old friend could not join them. My little client’s mom was upset that the old friend was treated this way. The old friend’s mom was upset that her daughter was hurt. Apparently, the word among many of the moms was that Kelly was not a very nice girl.

Yikes! The moms of seven-year-old girls are gossiping about one of them and telling their daughters that Kelly is not very nice? When exactly does bullying behaviour start and why?

It seems there are indeed some innate, ego-based characteristics. The young child does not want to share and may well be jealous of a new sibling. They will drop the old in favour of the new and novel. This is all natural and part of the developmental evolution.

It is interesting to me that we are all human beings, but the variation in evolutionary levels can be astounding. In the same world, we have beings like Mother Teresa and the Dalai Lama, as well as men who try to kill a 14-year-old girl who stands up for the rights of girls to be educated and predators who abuse children.

I think the human mind is like a computer that has all future versions installed at the same time and how it operates depends on which system we access. I had a wonderful iMac that I purchased many years ago. All I used it for was music, email and word processing. I just never learned to use all its other functions.

Children will either use the programs they are taught or the ones they see others around them using. In some countries, young children know how to use guns before they can read. In other places, they will give away their last bit of food so another can eat.

If a person grows to adulthood and has not evolved out of the ego-based patterns, they cannot model or teach their children a better way. The mom at the beginning of the article was aware she should teach her daughter to consider the feelings of others and not be mean, but was unaware of the insidiousness of what the adults were doing and modelling for their girls. The message the parents were sending was that we should be nice to our friends, but it is okay to isolate and criticize those we do not like.

Well, it seems that is the fundamental problem in our world. Still. It’s not that complicated and children will get it if we show them the way. After all, in the movie Bambi, Thumper said, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothing at all.” That is a start down the road to loving kindness we all can take, if only we choose to do so.

Gwen Randall-Young is an author and psychotherapist in private practice. For articles and information about her books, Deep Powerful Change hypnosis CDs and new Creating Healthy Relationships series, visit www.gwen.ca. See display ad this issue.

Leave a comment