The Root of American Bullying
Bullying has aftereffects. Adam Lanza reportedly was bullied:
Adam Lanza was bullied while he attended Sandy Hook Elementary and his mother Nancy considered suing the school for turning a blind eye to the abuse, an unnamed Lanza family member told the New York Daily News.
“Adam would come home with bruises all over his body,” the relative told the Daily News. “His mom would ask him what was wrong, and he wouldn’t say anything. He would just sit there.”
The family member went on to say that Lanza’s mother was distressed by the abuse, and didn’t believe school officials were protecting her son: “Nancy felt fiercely protective of him. She was convinced the school wasn’t doing enough to protect Adam. It made her irate.”
The relative also appears to attribute Lanza’s emotional and mental health problems to the experience, telling the Daily News that he never “seemed right” after his time in Sandy Hook.
“He was a sick boy,” the relative said.
Howard Bess takes a look at bullying in America at ConsortiumNews.com:
Bullying is now a major reason that American teenagers give for skipping school and eventually dropping out of high school. Students get bullied over race, sexual orientation, clothes, looks, handicaps, intelligence and economic class.
Yet, where can we find a voice of sanity that will publicly call for a halt in the practice of bullying? It is not the Christian churches. Indeed, many Christian pastors and fundamentalists practice the art of bullying themselves, demanding obedience to holy books and creeds.
Michelangelo’s depiction of God on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican.
I cringe every time I hear preachers and devout Christians declare “The Bible says…” Rarely do they identify the author or the circumstance of the passage to which they refer. “The Bible says…”is the sledge hammer of Protestant Christianity.
The message is all too plain: Get in line or you are headed for punishment, rejection or even Hell. It is the ultimate bullying tool because it is difficult for a parishioner to out-gun a holy god who has spoken with finality and without error. Dynamic and authoritarian preachers are especially good at Bible rhetoric that is calculated intimidation. Preachers may be the most skilled persons in our society in the practice of bullying.
And then there are the creeds, which were originally devised to force conformity to Christian belief. The creeds of Christianity have been and are regularly used as the club for bullying. Again, the message is clear: Agree or be denied ordination; agree or be silenced; agree or be censored; disagree and be labeled a heretic and be excommunicated.
Bullying also is practiced at the highest level of American civil society, with bullying a front-line tool of U.S. foreign policy. One could say that America in its world leadership role has refined and redefined the art of bullying.
We constantly send messages to the nations of the world: Behave and we will send you money; misbehave and we will place sanctions against you; get out of line too much and we have the power to crush you; dare rattle your own sword and we will station our battleships off your coast.
None of these public practices teaches our children the ways of peace. Then we seem surprised when we find bullying prevalent among our school children. Teenage gangs are simply another manifestation of a bully system that pervades many of the most respected institutions of society.
While details change, the dynamics of bullying never change. The story line repeats itself over and over. A bully finds ways to intimidate others to establish control over them. The person who is the object of the bullying has three choices: submit, run away, or fight back. None of these standard responses produce good results.
I had a chance to reflect on the dynamics of bullying when . . .