The Problem With “Everything Is Bullying”

The Problem With “Everything Is Bullying”


The Problem With “Everything Is Bullying”

About a year ago I had a conversation with my nephew in which he was talking about being picked on at school or something to that effect.  If I recall, at the time he was having some issues with a kid who he called a bully.  The kid was picking on him a little bit, but it didn’t seem too awful and he even acknowledged it wasn’t all the time and wasn’t too bad.  What I found interesting was the fact that he used the word “bully” to describe being picked on.  And I think there is a fundamental problem with “everything is bullying”.

Now when I was a younger lad we had some bullies and they were down right dastardly.  My friends and I would avoid their street walking home from school.  We would make sure we were never around this one particular kid ever!  This kid was definitely a bully in every sense of the word.  I saw him hold a broken piece of glass to a kids throat, made another kid kiss a piece of dog poo and he’d dole out noogies like they were Christmas presents.  He was such a great kid!

The conversation with my nephew made me wonder how he would be able to handle my bully in this day-n-age if he considers getting picked on as bullying.

It also got me thinking about modern society and how I think we’ve overdone it a bit.  Now, don’t go blowing up my inbox until I offer this disclaimer: I think it is awesome that schools and parents are so incredibly aware of bullying and are working to create environments where bullying is eliminated.

But how do you identify what is bullying and what is not.

I guess my fear is that if you label everything as bullying then nothing becomes bullying.  It devalues actual bullying; it’s almost a case of crying wolf isn’t it?  Let’s face it, kids are going to pick on one another.  I don’t know why children do it, but they do.  And teasing isn’t necessarily bullying.  But are we diminishing the true act of bullying by teaching kids to label everything as bullying?

At its core bullying is a form of oppression.  It occurs when someone uses their influence or power to make someone who appears weaker to do what they want them to do.  Now I do agree that if someone targets one particular individual over and over and picks on them, that could be considered bullying.  But if it happens infrequently I’m not so sure.

My overall point is that it appears we’ve taken many things to the extreme with modern-day child rearing.  If everything is considered bullying, if everyone gets a trophy, if there are never winners and losers, if every child is awesome and great, then what happens when these kids are dropped out of college or high school right in the middle of the real world?

What happens when these kids realize they aren’t super-duper special?  What happens when they realize life is really hard?  What happens when they realize there are winners and losers in life?  What happens when people at work talk about them behind their back or pick on them?

When we shelter children and hide them from the world we don’t actually teach them anything and then one day life is going to consume and overwhelm them.  Then what do we do with them?

We are already seeing assimilation issues with many millennials.  They are struggling with basic human interaction in the work place.

My fear is that if something isn’t done there’s going to be a whole new generation of kids that simply can’t cope, depression rates will rise as will the suicide rate.

Maybe I have a dooms day view, but I don’t think I’m far off.



30 thoughts on “The Problem With “Everything Is Bullying”

  1. I don’t agree with all of your post, Danny. Some of it, yes.

    We should teach our kids to treat each other with respect and not to be a bully.
    When the bully has shown his/her face, we need to talk to our kids and tell them, that this kid is not a happy kid at all, otherwise they would not feel the need to be a bully. I have been through this with my own kids, while they were kids.

    There are many ways to teach our kids about life and through bullies isn’t the good way. There have already been many suicides around in our world because of bullies.

    We can’t be the best to everything, but all are good at something. It is about finding their way and in this learning process, they do also learn to loose. They do also learn to loose by playing games, where the adults are not cheating and let the kids win every time. In school, they deliver tests and they will not get the best character every time. It is much up to the parents, how to tackle this kind of problems and kids learn by, what they see at home.

    While I was educating kids, I did check out the bullies to find out, what was wrong in their home. Often it was possible to help the kid and the parents in same time, in one or another way.

    1. I’m not exactly sure how you took my post, but we are essentially saying the same thing. Do you mind explaining to me how you view my post as different from your comment so I can understand? What specifically do you disagree with?

      1. About the bullies. How we look at them and what is bullying. Sorry, I didn’t explain that, but I mean, it is essential to view behind, when someone is a bully, no matter it is just some teasing, which I only accept, so long time it is innocent. Kids, who are allowed to be bullies as kids, they do often continue in same way, when they grow up. This I wish to avoid.

  2. I was siad! ! I guess my fear is that if you label everything as bullying then nothing becomes bullying. Never thought of bullying in that category, however, I have for other things. Most of the ones you have mentioned. I think you are absolutely right!

  3. Being a parent is the hardes job,does not come with a manual, and made even tougher because you
    love them so and want to protect them. I agree with Irene. It is up to the parents to set the standard, rules.

    I offered a suggestion to one of the grands being bullied in class and asked if he thought just finally saying to the kid, I don’t know what happened to you to make you such an —, but I’m sorry about that. Stop taking it out on everyone else or something to that effect. I think teachers are expected to be the “daily parent” and if you are lucky enough to have one of them, pay them what they deserve. Not what we give them now.

  4. Hit the send by mistake! The point I tried to make was that parents need to be parents, and stop putting the daily responsibilities on teachers, coaches, etc. Sorry, tangent…

    1. I agree completely. And I can’t stand bullying, but I wonder sometimes if kids have been taught that everything is bullying. I hear this from my friends who have kids and the schools are teaching them that anything they don’t like is “bullying”. I think it sends the wrong message. One instance in particular…my friend was explaining to me that he had to sit his 8 year old down and explain to him that someone disagreeing with you isn’t bullying. His teacher/school had made some statement that led his kid to believe that disagreements could be bullying. And if everything becomes bullying, then nothing is bullying.

  5. I have to agree with you and fearlessinjesuschrist makes a valid point. As a college lecturer this is quite common, but I have trouble getting our ‘guidance’ department understanding the difference between an extremely sensitive student bringing charges of bullying for what is basically banter. Of course our friend Mr Trump has brought ‘banter’ into disrepute. Obviously if the ‘banter’ is continuous and frequently aimed at the same person it becomes mental cruelty, but when I consider what was done to apprentices when I was young; phew they’d be locked up 🙂

    1. I try to understand that the world is changing, but it is changing that much. You have to have tough skin to survive in this world. And the world doesn’t stop so you can figure things out. It runs you over.

  6. I agree with everything you said. Growing up, I was a small, shy kid, and met my share of nasty bullies. Today, it seems that a lot of bullying is through social media. I wish, back then, all the bullies would text something nasty, instead of meeting me face to face. As you mentioned in your post – kids are sheltered too much these days.You need to be ready for life after school. Why do you think we have such things as safe spaces on college campuses? Today’s youth are not having to face the reality that life is tough, and will get harder. I also agree that many of them get into the workplace, face tough bosses, deadlines, and pressure and can’t cope. Sadly your thoughts on depression, and rising suicides, will probably come true. Thank you for a great post.

    1. Thanks Patrick. And life is tough and for some it is even tougher. And that will never change. And not everything is bullying. There are tough bosses in the world and you must figure out how to deal with them.

  7. I do think its a fine line and I think schools are hyper aware that what might start out with a bit of teasing has the ability to escalate pretty quickly, especially in this day and age with the internet, as you say you would avoid the road the bullies lived down and its not like that anymore. Your house use to be a safe heaven but not anymore.

    I do agree with you in part that schools give the kids prizes for participating, I personally believe its good for kids to have competition, you learn that you are not great at everything and on top of that it teachers you how to be a good winner and loser. But, certainly in the UK, I don’t think schools are teaching our kids that they are all the same. Our kids are placed into sets at an early age, lower, middle and higher, this goes to show our kids in the bottom 2 sets there is no point trying to achieve anything more than that, they teach our children that if you don’t fit into the square peg because you are a round ball, then you are not worth it. On top of this, they issue out prizes and certificates for 100% attendence all because your child was lucky enough not to have caught whichever horrible thing is going round this time.

    Its up to the parents to teach children, not to be bullies but on top of this, we need to also get out of the mindeset of certain things, such as boys will be boys (that phrase does my head in) and maybe by calling it bullying at an early stage then it saves a lot of pain in the long run, but also saying that, we need to give our children the tools to deal with horrible people, because you are always going to run into them at different stages of life, and you are not going to be able to run to your mum/teacher every time

    1. So how do we do all of these things? I think it falls back on parenting, but bad parenting is kind of what has created a lot of this mess. Would you agree or disagree?

      1. Its ultimately down to the parents of course. But yes bad parenting has created a lot of this mess. We seem to go from one extreme to another. A great example would be, when Jamie Oliver (Chef) wanted to change our school dinners to make them more healthy, you had parents at the school gates with macdonals at lunchtime. Now because of that the schools are stupidly strict on what can be in a lunchbox. I have no idea where the stupid idea that all children need a prize come from. Its like me running in the 100m sprint and expecting to get a gold medal like Bolt.. It just wouldn’t happen, my record for 100m is 80m 😉

  8. I could not stop nodding as I read the post and a lot of the comments.
    Every little thing becomes bullying. It becomes an easy excuse. Someone disagrees with me, he is x, y and z. Because of such things, we have children and adults that can’t cope with anything.

  9. All of this is true about bullying. Growing up I was bullied, but it wasn’t until I was in college when I realized how bad bullying has gotten on the web. Cyberbullying and bullying in general doesn’t look like it is going away any time soon.

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