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Viva la Differences?

Posted By: Laura Schmidt on January 8, 2004
This was an interesting article, and certainly brought up good points about a problem that has been around for generations--bullying. When I was child growing up in the 1970s I was involved on both sides of the issue.

I think perhaps Ms. Mickens is a little fatalistic about children who are "different." We are all different. I was definitely different as a child, but was fortunate enough to have a strong personality and the ability to stick to my unconventional ways. I remember being as young as eight and refusing to get involved in a fad because everyone else was. If my friends and I picked on a fellow student, it was not due to perceived differences or inadequacies, but a random choosing (of usually a boy--we girls hated boys!). The classmates who stand out in my mind are the ones with some exceptional talent or ability (included interpersonal relationships) who were not afraid to be themselves. Conformists or children who refused to make waves did not interest me.

Children's social skills and sense of empathy are undeveloped and consequently, they do not think of the feelings of their victim(s). They have not learned the problem-solving skills that get us adults through situations with co-workers--our equivalent of classmates. They also lack the freedom to deal with an unpleasant situation. If I am being treated poorly at my job, I can quit. Leaving a school because of a bully is not often an option.

Growing older solved almost every problem I ever had with classmates, often leading to friendships forming with sworn enemies within a year. Maybe we were being taught something that today's children are not. Certainly we did not have the prevalence of violent TV programs and video games, which, consciously or not, teach young people to solve a problem by "zapping" the adversary. Perhaps a government that sanctions executions and the invasion of sovereign nations under questionable pretexts should shoulder some of the responsiblity for our young people's lack of coping skills.

Laura Schmidt
Jefferson County, MO
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 Viva la Differences? by Laura Schmidt on January 8, 2004
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