We live in a world where it is so difficult to discern the best ways to approach social problems, primarily because we think in dichotomous terms (meaning either/or), and don’t allow for multiple solutions, middle of the road solutions, or culturally appropriate solutions. We also live in a world full of contradictions, and we don’t know how to reconcile many of them in our own lives, much less as a society.
#Walk up has been encouraging kids to reach out to those that are bullied and outcast. While good in it’s intent, the outcomes remain to be seen. It both serves to blame the victims of bullying while revictimizing them. It also serves to further social isolation because the kids that are being encouraged to reach across the aisle are not being trained to do so in a way that is genuine. Rather, they are slapping a band-aid on the problem at best. When kids who are identified as being at risk are singled out by counselors and peers, and the roots of their problems are not solved, it only serves to further isolate and anger that kid. There are multiple layers to the problems these kids face. One of which is that they are being blamed for the violence perpetrated by kids with psychopathic tendencies. Psychopathic tendencies usually involve a string of identifiers that are not commonly associated with kids who are victims of bullying, such as obsession with violence and destruction, manipulative behaviors, narcissism, dishonesty, secrecy, lack of guilt and empathy, lack of emotional bonds with others, a tendency to externalize blame and often involves bullying of other children, and cruelty to animals. It is this group that needs to be targeted for interventions.
Healthy, rational, and productive discourse rarely takes place in our world. In our uber-connected world of social media, “reality” tv, and opinion-centered entertainment, even the most rational people are overpowered by trolls and well-meaning traditionalists who insist that their way is right, and everyone else is wrong. This makes it even harder for kids to not be jerks to other kids because they are not being provided with examples of healthy, rational discourse in daily life.
#Walk Out serves many purposes, but is only one fragment of the solution. Activism is cathartic for victims and effective in creating policy change. Policy change is helpful in reshaping cultural attitudes, which is where the bulk of our problem lies. As long as we live in a society that cares more for corporate than human interests, the emotional needs of our children are not prioritized, and we will continue to create the very problem we are attempting to resolve. I only hope that these kids keep up with their activism and get more involved and engaged in their communities as they grow up.