3.19.2012

Bullying happens to unschoolers, too

Flickr: trixer
I've been trying to figure out how to write this article. Bullying is a difficult topic for me, because I was severely bullied throughout my school years. Why? I'm not sure, but I suspect it came with being a kind, gentle kid. Other kids saw my sensitivity as weakness and reacted to punish me for failing to conform.

Aggression as Strength

A headline the other day stated that people perceive altruism as weakness and agressive selfishness as strength. This baffles my mind (heart), but those were the findings.
My mother kept birds. If one lost a patch of feathers baring skin, the others would peck it to death.
I've heard other formerly bullied people speak of their dismay at being chosen for bullying, because they were such kind-hearted children.

Was my bullied experience why I chose unschooling for my kids? No, but I did assume they'd have less opportunity to find themselves in the victim role. That did prove true while they were small and our social circle was composed mostly of other unschoolers and homeschoolers.

Nowadays, however, my daughters spend much of their time with schooled kids in the neighborhood. Enter bullying.

I've heard a story or two about unschoolers bullying unschoolers, but my kids have never had that experience. The homeschoolers we know -- hundreds of families -- are the nicest kids I've met. It's the school kids who surprise us with aggressive selfish behavior.

Bullying and Forced Schooling

Unschooling mom writer Lisa Russell talked about bullying, how adults model bullying behavior, so that bullying is actually encouraged and rewarded. Bullying behavior, she says, is an adult priviledge in this culture. She attributes a lot of bullying entirely to forced schooling. I agree and I recommend giving her blog a read.

Since bullying is a regular part of this culture, as my unschooling daughters have experienced, we're all subject or suspect at some point. Children learn by example and adults take their cues from one another. Bullying is a serious issue. What's your next move?

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