Bullying is a devastating social phenomenon that is occurring throughout the world. Lives are being damaged or even destroyed.
Is bullying and harassment becoming more intense, nasty and prevalent in our day and age? Or, are we just more aware of what’s going on because we live in an electronic age where we are simply more interconnected by smart phones, tablet computers and the internet, with all its social media, like Facebook and Twitter, to name just two of many?
Of course, bullying and harassment have always been around, but does it indeed seem to be getting more ugly and mean in the twenty-first century?
I will put forth several ideas, or propositions, regarding this question. I believe that the issues of bullying and violence must be considered in light of these propositions.
The Era of “Taunting”
Firstly, since the early days of a world-famous young fighter, a boxer, in the mid 1960s, with his “in-your-face” boasting and taunting, our culture as a whole has grown more coarse and uncaring about the dignity and well-being of others. Is there truth to that idea?
Before this boxer appeared on the national and international scene, with his assaults on the dignity and emotional well-being of his opponents, how often did we see taunting or badgering going on from one athlete toward another? How about overt showboating or grandstanding after an athlete made some exceptional play or performed at a superior level? What about on the tennis court? Was there courtesy, humility and civility? Or crudeness and disrespect, like we saw so much from certain tennis players after the “taunting” era began?
It should be obvious that, before this mold and pattern took hold, we rarely, if ever saw these kinds of abusive, disrespectful attitudes from one athlete toward another, or even toward referees, as we sometimes see today.
Let’s look at entertainment and news. These days, we have radio talk-show hosts and TV personalities who regularly express contempt or ridicule toward other people, their opinions or actions. Before the trend toward disrespect and belittling, do you think such talk-show hosts and TV personalities would have been well-received?
Consider such shows as “The Jerry Springer Show” for a moment. On these kinds of program, “guests” are commonly rude, crude, nasty and other such things toward each other. They’ll even curse each other out or maybe even start throwing punches. And the live or TV audiences? They’ll applaud and cheer. They love it.
In politics, did we used to see and hear mean-spirited attacks from one candidate toward another, even among candidates in the same party? Or huge amounts of money being spent on negative TV “attack” ads. Or a strong unwillingness to work together and compromise between the two major parties?
So, is it safe to say that we now live in a culture where open contempt and disrespect for the dignity, opinions or reputation of others has become the norm, to a significant degree? I believe it is safe to say that.
Remember, when examining these issues, just how large of an impact “celebrities” of all kinds and athletes have on our culture’s overall attitudes. And remember too, that this trend was possibly started by one of the biggest celebrities and icons in history.
The Hippie or “Love” Generation
At a time when the era of taunting was in its early stages, another movement was taking shape in America… the hippie culture.
Was this movement about love, peace and harmony, as it loudly proclaimed? Or was it really about:
- Selfishness, as exemplified by the casual use of others for one’s own sexual gratification, and calling it “love”?
- Disregard or outright contempt for established standards of morality, law and behavior?
- Contempt for society and culture, and a loud demand that society adjust to its own, new standards?
- The tearing down of anything and everything that didn’t conform to what it deemed to be good and right?
I was a young teen and adult during those times. I was a part of it. I was into free love and drugs and “doin’ your own thing”. Let me ask a couple of probing questions, though.
First, how much good, positive, beneficial change took place as a result of this movement? After all, change for the better, for the good, was a main premise and foundation of this whole way of life, right after personal gratification. How much good and positive change came as a result?
Second, is the world, our society and culture better off now because the hippie movement had been here?
Games of Violence
Something else that is closely related to the trend toward disrespect and contempt for others is the development and incredible rise in popularity of “shoot-em-up” video games, where players can sit before a TV or computer screen, or play on a hand-held game unit, and casually, carelessly commit mind-numbing atrocities upon other people, inside and outside of a war setting.
A question that naturally arises in connection with games of violence is this: Is there possibly a connection between the emergence and popularity of these games, and the phenomenal rise in inner-city violence and gang warfare, and children, even very young ones, being willing and able to commit incredible acts of violence, often over trivial matters?
Another factor to consider in the discussion about bullying is the soundness of the home and family. Kids these days are, to a much greater degree than ever before, on their own, and the majority of their interactions are with friends or peers, TVs, video games and electronic devices… not with their family members.
Think about a lot of the school shootings that have occurred (many of which were committed by bullied people), and how utterly clueless parents and family were about what was going on. There have even been a number of actual murders that have been committed by two or more young people, and many other teens have been made aware of it before or after the fact, and parents have been completely in the dark. How often did things like this happen years ago?
Also, abuse, neglect and violence in the home are commonplace and at rising levels.
Widespread Drug Use
What about the use of psychotropic drugs, like Ritalin, Adderall and Trazodone, that are administered to large numbers of youth; even to younger children? How might this be impacting the attitudes and actions of young people today? Many, perhaps most adults today think there is no risk or danger, or they may not think about it at all, but more and more evidence is appearing that there is risk involved with these drugs.
Just yesterday (June 26, 2012) I saw a report on the evening news about the rapidly accelerating rate of addiction to Adderall by women and mothers in their twenties and thirties, who use it to be more efficient in getting all their chores and activities done. It was a frightening report.
Also, there is a growing misuse of prescription drugs among young people and not-so-young people. The following comes from an online report from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration :
Q: What prescription drugs are being misused and abused?
A: The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) reports that in 2008, non-medical use of psycho-therapeutic prescription drugs fell into four major classes: pain relievers, tranquilizers, stimulants, and sedatives.
Nearly 35 million Americans reported that they had non-medical use of prescription pain relievers—including opioid-containing drugs such as hydrocodone (Vicodin), oxycodone (OxyContin, Percodan, Percocet), and fentanyl (Duragesic)—at least once during their lifetime.
Approximately 21.5 million Americans have used prescription tranquilizers for non-medical purposes at least once. These include drugs prescribed for anxiety or insomnia, such as benzodiazepines—including diazepam (Valium), alprazolam (Xanax) and clonazepam (Klonapin)—and non-benzodiazepines such as zolpidem (Ambien), zaleplon (Sonata) and eszopiclone (Lunesta).
Similarly, about 21.2 million Americans have used prescription stimulants non-medically at least once. These include drugs prescribed for ADHD such as amphetamine (Adderall), methylphenidate (Ritalin, Concerta, and Daytrana), and methamphetamine. Notably, almost 13 million people reported they had used prescription methamphetamine at least once during their lifetime.
Finally, nearly 9 million Americans have used prescription sedatives non-medically at least once. These sedatives include barbiturates such as amobarbital (Amytal), pentobarbital (Nembutal), and secobarbital (Seconal).
I spoke with my now 24-year-old son about a year ago and he said that a high percentage of young people he knew were involved with the use of psychotropics or prescription drugs.
I wanted to touch on these factors:
- A major, obvious trend since the mid-sixties toward contempt and disrespect for others; fostered to a large degree by athletes and celebrities… those who exert a major influence on a culture’s attitudes and actions.
- The hippie, or “love” culture, which had many of these same attitudes, only concealed with a veneer of love, harmony and peace.
- The creation and enormous popularity of shoot-em-up games in which life and physical safety are cheap commodities.
- A breakdown in the home and family, with domestic violence commonplace, and an increasing isolation among young people.
- The widespread use of psychotropic drugs and the abuse of pain-killers and other prescription drugs….
because there are many more factors involved with bullying and violence in our day and age than ever before, and these factors must be taken into consideration when seeking to combat the plague on society brought by bullying.
What do we mean by that? We mean that, in order to deal with a problem, you need to get down to the root issues. For instance, if our culture has become, over a period of years, more and more accepting of disrespect, belittling and contempt for others, then there must be a massive, culture-wide push to make those kinds of attitudes and behavior taboo and utterly unacceptable, and that is a major undertaking.
As a society and culture, why do we like and enjoy these kinds of attitude and behavior? This is a vitally important question.
There also needs to be legislation put into effect making bullying/harassment and domestic abuse and violence serious offenses with real consequences, as well as legitimate avenues that can be taken by those who are suffering from such abuses to obtain actual relief. This too is a major undertaking.
This is a big reason for the creation of Pit Bull Kitty and “Bullying Is The Pits”, because, if a “character” like Pit Bull Kitty can gain recognition and widespread acceptance… or even better… popularity, then it may be possible to actually create massive awareness and even a level of disgust toward the problem. “Characters” and stories might be able to create a huge awareness and desire for change in ways that facts and information, no matter how sobering, cannot. The imagination can be a powerful friend to be approached, especially among children and teens.
It is our hope that there will be individuals, organizations and people in the business community who will join with my wife, Cristy and me in this battle against bullying and violence… emotional, social and physical. Without the cooperation and active help of others, it is almost certain that our efforts will fail or fall far short of what might be accomplished. Please feel free to contact us, and share this site and refer as many others to it as you are willing and able.