Words matter: turning bullying into a badge of infamy works against all of us

Check out my Op Ed in today’s Montreal Gazette:

In the campaign against bullying, it’s becoming clear that words matter.

When letter-writer Nancy Boyle (“Bullies come from the best of homes,” Gazette, Jan. 3, 2011)  says that bullies are often “perfectly well-adjusted, well-cared for” children  from “stable and loving home[s],” she is correct. Moreover, it is seriously  counter-productive to paint these kids as dysfunctional monsters.

“Bully” has become the new-millennium scarlet letter. It connotes a colossal  parenting failure, an anti-social, classroom-disrupting, Facebook-scrawling  ogre. It embodies within it all our anxieties about our modern, ineffective  styles of parenting. It anchors our worries about our kids growing up  online.

So when the school calls to say that little Johnny (or Jean-Luc) is bullying  someone in his class, a parent would have to surmount some pretty impressive  psychological barriers to quietly accept this and ask what can be done. To the  average mom or dad, the implication of that word is that you have failed as a  parent; you have turned out a modern-day monster.

Read more:  Full editorial available here. 

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