Bullying:Institutionalized Prejudice

May 24, 2012
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Having attended three high schools in three different continents within the span of the past four years, I have been exposed to a diverse range of cultures. Although there are differences within each of the schools, there are also some striking similarities. One of these similarities pertains to the issue of bullying.

My journey begins in an elite private school situated in South London. I quickly established a firm bond with friends and found myself integrated perfectly well. However this did not mean I was a stranger to the concept of bullying. Each day I saw some of my class members be humiliated by others. Every time I saw these events take place I couldn’t help but ask, ‘Why? Why is that particular person being harassed or excluded? What makes them so different from everyone else?’ It is clear to us who the victims of bullying are. But let us challenge this one step further. Why is it clear to us? If we are not born with any such innate prejudice, when do we acquire it?

It was my experience in Taipei, where I attended an international school that enabled me to formulate an answer to my previous questions. During the six months there, I l learned directly about the negative effect the media has on society via it’s often caricaturized roles of “coolness”. The more one buys into a media fed vision of what it means to “fit in” the more one starts looking like a character in any of a dozen teen shows that have so permeated our sub conscious. We become perceptibly ruder, louder, brasher and unkind. We forget our values, overtaken by the fake values of the images on TV that started out to entertain, sure, but have ended up being nothing but grotesque.

In my opinion, this is the most prominent cause behind bullying. The most important reason for this is centered on the belief of a ‘unified interest.’ On the surface this may seem superficial, but it is true. When I was in Taipei I wondered how the people I was around were so absorbed by a false, media driven portrayal of Western culture that they ignored their own values. It seems that from an early age certain stereotypes are fed to us and when these stereotypes are adopted by the majority, there is no room for the individual. When individuality does occur therefore, the majority condemns it. It is crucial, however, that we understand the term ‘individuality.’ It does not mean holding radical opinions or attempting to be different, it simply has to do with not conforming. This subsequently raises the issue of peer pressure, where one is pushed to give up all that is unique and become absorbed into a popular stereotype that ends up being uniform to be sure, but surely bland as well.

The problem therefore lies within the role of today’s media. If we are to tackle the issue of bullying, we must address this problem first.





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