Bullying: Institutional Inevitability?

22:41 Tue 21 Apr 2009. Updated: 12:59 03 Dec 2009
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Over the last month or so I’ve come across a bunch of articles on school bullying, mostly in the United States. A common thread among them seemed to be the lack of interest of the school authorities in effectively dealing with the bullies. This is always a little surprising (and disheartening) on the individual level, but makes perfect sense to me on the institutional level.

Essentially, those running the institution are concerned with just that: its smooth running. If they’re concerned with the individual welfare of those in the institution, this is something they do as individuals, in a sense despite (rather than because of) their position. My hypothesis is that, as political operators, they are more concerned with not upsetting the social order, and that the social hierarchy within the student body will often mirror the social hierarchy of the adult society involved with the school. (It should be clear that without a pretty strong social hierarchy among the students, bullying would be a much more questionable proposition.)

Some of the articles about bullying I’ve come across:
A Boy the Bullies Love to Beat Up, Repeatedly
Zero Tolerance?
Mom lashes out at school officials about bullying problem
Homophobic Bullying is a Problem

Today I came across a piece by John Taylor Gatto that summarizes the situation fairly well, including this line: “happy or unhappy, the weak are no problem for school managers; long experience with natural selection at my school had caused unfortunates to adapt, in Darwinian fashion, to their role as prey.” This rings true: the socially weak victims of bullying aren’t likely to cause much trouble for the administrators.

Further reading could include the works of Erving Goffman and Alice Miller.

One Response to “Bullying: Institutional Inevitability?”

  1. therottentangerine Says:

    An 11 year old boy hung himself last week in Atlanta, GA due to bullying at the school. His school councelor told him to ‘man up!’.

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