Bullying: A Big Complicated Problem with Many Simple Solutions

If each one of us untangled one string at a time...

Monday, June 20, 2011

Is Television Making Us Bullies?

There is one big factor in the bullying conversation that hasn't made it's way into all the media attention. It's the media.

I like reality shows as much as the next shallow person but there's SO much of it! I actually heard Bobby Flay call a weeping young chef out on a food challenge show, telling her that her cupcakes were crumbly and this is the FOOD Network, not the FUN Network. I thought food was supposed to be fun.

(I don't want to necessarily pick on The Food Network because I had hours of joy watching it with my beloved mother-in-law during the last year of her life, but I think she would even say that some of the shows have gotten a little too mean-spirited. God save the poor chef who doesn't know what to do with the secret ingredient!)

But food competitions are the least of it. Just turn on Bravo or MTV and hold on to your seats. All fun and games until you realize that kids are watching the same shows: Jersey Shore, The Housewives of Everywhere, etc., etc. Screaming, cursing, hitting, stomping, blasting, blood vessels popping and manic texting.

This is what concerns me. We can deliver great school programs to help combat peer to peer cruelty from elementary school on up, but what is really influencing our kids and our culture? How do we stop this deluge of mean?

And as a side note, some of these programmers are getting in on the bullying prevention band wagon, but is that a good idea, either? Here's author and expert Rosalind Wiseman's blog post about the rather odd partnership with the NEA (National Education Association), the Creative Coalition and the WWE.

I'd really welcome your thoughts.

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