Interesting piece in the Observer (for a change), about bullying. Someone called Tim Gill, a former government adviser who led a major review into children's play, has written a book, No Fear: Growing up in a Risk-Averse Society, in which he argues that playground bullying is exaggerated and that kids should be encouraged to sort out conflict with their peers and not be mollycoddled by teachers and parents.
But Liz Carnell, director of the charity Bullying UK, counters: "What may seem like minor name-calling to an adult could be devastating to the child. Bullying can start with one incident, and if you nip it in the bud straight away, it will not grow into a problem."
Carnell's view strikes me as the more sensible. At core, bullying - which can be verbal harassment or physical assault with always an intimidatory intent and usually a sustained element - is an unsocial behaviour. The failure of schools and parents to deal appropriately with bullies may account for the high incidence of workplace bullying: to many it is a behaviour that appears to be countenanced or excused and ultimately rewarded in adulthood. Successful bullies in high status jobs are even granted a certain cachet because of their "toughness" or "ruthlessness". Teachers maybe reluctant to tackle bullying because they themselves were indoctrinated as kids to tacitly side with the bully, not the victim, for fear of seeming weak. The source problem lies not in the victim but in the bully: the Gills and his ilk fail to recognise this simple truth.
Ultimately this is a question about the kind of world we wish to live in. It certainly won't be altered by invoking the old brutalising law of the jungle crap - which is just another excuse to leave things as they are.
Tim Gill - "government adviser". How depressing.
Observer: Bullying is Exaggerated
Ten VERY SUCCESSFUL and FAMOUS glamour role model bullies (from UK perspective):