Posts Tagged ‘alcohol abuse’
Again the headlines scream “…driven to Suicide..” , …hangs himself after bullies tease…” and sadly, it appears that we are reading the same articles we read only a few short months ago—with one important difference. Adults in authority knew what was going on, and had taken measures to keep young Joel Morales safe. According to one media source, relatives had even filed a police report, and Joel had been transferred to a different school. If this was not effective, what can be done?
Parents, teachers, and authorities are at a loss—but bullying is hardly the first social issue to be rather impervious to the efforts to change “normal” behavior. Think of alcohol abuse—how intractable it still seems, yet how effective AA and Mothers Against Drunk Driving became. The School Assemblies they spoke at are the only ones many parents today remember— parents who are now able to reach out to all manner of support when they discover their own children are abusing substances.
Think back even further, when wife-battering was put on the social agenda in the 1970’s. This physical abuse was—and still is–hidden and denied, because its victims fear retribution.—something often expressed by victims of (and bystanders to) bullying. Even though this fear persists, victims of battering have more options today than they did only a generation ago–and more than do victims of bullying today.
While drunk driving and spousal battering can still be pointed to, what has changed are the norms of society. The responses of others around the inebriated or the abused. Social support in all guises—formal laws and shelters to informal support groups–for victims, perpetrators, and others who are affected abound, and are readily available. More importantly, there are enough individuals who do not believe drunk driving or wife battering are cool, or even acceptable, and it is this informal network of support that has created safe spaces and modified behaviors. There are bystanders who are able to intervene—without fear of retribution. And it is changes in the day to day responses of bystanders that will slowly change the formidable issues that now characterize bullying. Culture is outraged—and this is the first crucial step. Outcry is being made, and the swell from below will change norms—but it will take time.