Thursday, January 27, 2005

Why are kids so cruel?

Just watched Missing on MNet. It was about this kid that got picked on at school. Bullies picked on him. Then this girl set him up: got him undressed, tied up and then brought a whole lot of her friends in to laugh at him. Then they circulated a photo they'd taken of him. So he ran away and tried to hang himself.

Kids look for differences and prey on those. They look for similarities and try to belong to those. I guess the cruelty is about making themselves feel better about themselves and their insecurities.

I know a fair amount about Freud and Jung - the two "opposing" schools of psychology. As I do with most "opposing" opinions / schools of thought, I think their is truth in both. Rather than the oversimplification that Freud says "blame it on your mother," the idea that we are products of our experiences growing up is an important one.

But I don't believe in absolving adults of accountability because of their experiences growing up - that's too convenient, and pop-psych crap.

Nevertheless, I had a tough time growing up. I never understood why I attracted attention growing up, but I got tonnes. It wasn't just when I was 9 - it went right until I was about 17. And I wasn't a pathetic kid.

In retrospect, I wish I'd clocked a few of those kids early on. I will certainly advise my kids to, as a last resort and after due warning, smack a bully - especially a verbal one, hard. Ten to one, it'll shut them up. Obviously I'll spend time teaching them to love themselves too. That's the most critical thing.

Part of that is being happy with who I am now. I am. Part of it is, but that's not enough.

A big part of life for me has been growing to forgive the kid I was. Telling him he's worth loving.

This is a pretty deep, dark post. But tonight's TV show reminded me of the importance of looking after the kid within - and the kids around us. Never underestimate the effect of bullying - especially emotional on a kid. No kid wants their parent to get involved in their battles. Helping a kid cope is complicated but essential.

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