A story back in August about bullying really stuck with me because it changed the way I thought about the phenomenon and what I think we, as a society, can do about it.
Essentially, the the story said that the leverage point, when it comes to bullying, is not the bully or the kid being bullied. It's the bystanders. Bullies want and need an audience, so really the most important actor in the whole scenario of bullying is the group of people looking on.
When I was in school at least, there was no attempt to deal with the issue in any way but by confronting the bully and the victim, as far as I know. But what an amazing lesson to teach our children. A democracy works best when we all take an interest in the fate of those around us. We are all at our best when we care most not for our own safety or our own face, but for those among us who are least powerful. Every miscarriage of justice, every abuse of power in the wider world relies on the tacit complicity of those who stand by and do nothing. That these people are merely bystanders is a fiction.
Someone I know recently said that he always voted for a school levy, even though he didn't have any children, because schools are the crucible where our larger society is made. He's absolutely right, and while I'm all in favor of getting students' math scores up, I think these opportunities are the most important. These opportunities where we decide, as a people, who we want to be.