Democrats and Republicans agree on something. Former first daughter Chelsea Clinton defended current first son Barron Trump, who was bullied by the Conservative publisher The Daily Caller, for wearing a T-shirt and jean shorts aboard Air Force One. Melania Trump, whose big First Lady focus is to put an end to bullying, thanked Clinton for defending her son on Twitter.
First of all, a media outlet, and a Conservative one at that, publishing anything about any of the President’s children is not just in bad taste; it’s wrong -- and not because they’re the Conservative President’s children. Historically, the President’s children have been off limits to the media, but the only minors who should be targets of the media are high school athletes and high school achievers.
The only time a minor warrants a published word is when said minor has done some good for her community. No one wants to read about how poorly the home team played or which minors were caught in possession of drugs the day before the game. You can still publish that athletes were held out of lineup as punishment for poor behavior, but a sports reporter’s focus should stay on the field or court and with the kids who did show up to represent their high school that day.
People want to read about how the kids hung in there despite overwhelming odds, and how much money the volleyball team raised for local cancer survivors, or how well the Mathletes did at State. It’s the “good news” in the newspaper that helps small newspapers survive. More than anything, parents want to read about their child’s accomplishments and feel proud. They want to clip their kids’ pictures out of the paper and hang them on the fridge. The last thing they want to see is their child’s name in the paper for doing something wrong. That’s when they don’t even bother putting on clothes and just rush out the house to the newspaper office to rip into the editor about how their child’s a minor and her name shouldn’t be in print or on lips.
Minors get the benefit of the doubt from both journalists and the judicial system because they’re minors. They don’t have the experience to know what they ought and ought not do, so society cuts them some slack so they can figure it out. The Daily Caller cut Barron Trump no slack for his lack of slacks. They thought it was “High Time Barron Trump Starts Dressing Like He’s In the White House.” Barron probably wishes his father would act like he’s in the White House. See, now that’s proper bullying.
The Daily Caller or any other publisher or person in this country can bully the President all they want thanks to the First Amendment. While attaining his “experience,” Donald Trump made plenty of mistakes, and he still does things that warrant a published word or billion. He’s not afforded the societal benefit of the doubt because he’s 71.
Trump’s 11-year-old son doesn’t have to dress like he’s in the White House because he’s 11 years old. His only focus should be being 11, and 11-year-olds wear jeans and T-shirts everyday. If your crazy old man was the most powerful old man in the world you’d want to be comfortable, too. Also, imagine graduating high school when your dad’s 78? How difficult it must be for Barron to connect with his father. There’s a multigenerational gap there.
There’s no gap between Democrats and Republicans when it comes to bullying. It’s decidedly bad, and cyber bullying has exacerbated the problem. Victims of cyberbullying are more likely to be depressed than victims of traditional bullying. According to a 2010 Archives of Suicide Research study, “Youth who experienced traditional bullying or cyberbullying, as either an offender or a victim, had more suicidal thoughts and were more likely to attempt suicide than those who had not experienced such forms of peer aggression.” While suicidal thoughts and behaviors were more strongly related to those bullied, the bullies themselves also suffer, and the act of bullying is a coping mechanism.
Cyberbullying is like traditional bullying, except the bully is always there. Now that every parent issues mobile phones to their kids as a means to keep tabs on them, bullies can keep tabs on them, too. Back in my day, there weren’t mobile devices in high school, so all the bullying was done in the traditional manner. Now kids get bullied in school and at home, with no refuge in sight.
If you thought bullying would end as soon as some kid died as a result, it not only didn’t, but more kids are dying. Suicide is the second leading cause of death for those between 10 and 24 years old. A study done in Great Britain found at least half of suicides among young people are related to bullying. Wikipedia even has a wiki dedicated to some of the most notable suicides attributed to bullying. Most recently, 12-year-old Katelyn Davis hanged herself from a tree in her backyard while live streaming it on Live.Me.
With bullying, the First Lady chose an honorable challenge despite the irony that engulfed its announcement while her husband was bullying Hillary Clinton, quite literally. You can’t go wrong attempting to save the children, but what can really be done about bullying?
Anyone who has ever been a victim or offender of bullying knows how to put an end to it. You must stand up to the bully but do so without resorting to violence. Experts say a violent response is not advised. So you don’t even have to be successful in the fight. You just have to show you have fight.
I grew up before anti-bullying laws in Montana, and I was bullied in middle school for one day. I decided that was the first and last time anyone would bully me. I didn’t throw one punch, didn’t attempt one kick. I just told the bully to hit me. He never did, but he did drive my nose into a metal railing at the top of a stairwell, and while bloodied, it wasn’t broken. I just kept repeating, “I’m still standing” until my mother arrived on the scene. (She was a teacher at the school, and her classroom was furthest from the action if that gives you an idea of how little teachers are doing about bullying.)
I didn’t have a problem with that bully or any other after that day, and I didn’t have to win the fight. I just had to prove I would be a frightful pain in the ass and not worth the bully’s time. The same tactic will work for cyber bullying as well.
Putting an end to cyber bullying takes a bit more dedication than getting the traditional bully off your back, but the principle’s the same. Stand up to the bully every time. Sure you could ignore the bully or block them, but then they just move on to another victim. Don’t let a Facebook comment or Tweet fall through the cracks. You must respond and respond quickly to all attacks on your character and that of others, but you must do so in a manner that reveals to the bully her reason for bullying without actually calling the bully insecure. You must be a social media psychologist.
The most important thing to do as a social media psychologist is listen, which you can’t do if you block the bullies. In the case of cyber bullying, read deeply into every word your bully writes and calmly respond -- so calmly that the bully could never read malice into your response. They should be surprised by your lack of emotion and somewhat bored by it. Don’t try to be too smart or you’ll risk your cyberbully turning into a bully bully. While confidence is key, it’s more important to convey that you don’t care what your bully thinks.
Sometimes seeking out common ground can help. Instead of waiting for the next attack, be proactive and respond to something the bully posts on social media that you both like. If the bully knows you like some of the same things she does, it can go a long way in humanizing her thought of you. You might even end up friends.
For persistent bullies it might take the assistance of some friends to put an end to the bullying. The more people who stand by the bullied and speak on the bullied’s behalf, the more likely the bully is to stop bullying. So don’t be afraid to ask for help, and don’t hesitate to help others who are bullied. If all the bullies and all the bullied teamed up for war, the bullied would win the day. Remember that episode of The Simpsons when Bart unites all of Springfield’s bullied against Nelson? There's a lot of truth to that.
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