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Posted March 18, 2014 by Tim Wells in Tim's Thoughts

Bully-Enabling 101: Blame the Victim

Have you seen the story of the North Carolina school that banned a 9-year-old boy from wearing his My Little Pony backpack because “it’s a trigger for bullying?”

Dubya. Tee. Eff?

Team Edward

This is one of my “triggers.” You’ve been warned.

Did I miss the memo saying it’s ok to bully someone as long as there’s something about them that you dislike? I mean, if that’s the case, we could label and ban practically anything as a potential “trigger.” I can’t stand the term “YOLO” (you only live once) and want to throat punch people who use it. Trigger identified. From now on, you are all forbidden from saying, “YOLO.” And while we’re banning things that might make me want to bully you, we’d better get rid of Bluetooth headsets and “Team Edward” t-shirts.

Seriously though, banning something because it might make a bully angry is not just stupid, it’s a dangerous precedent to set.

Let’s apply the same logic to rape, for a moment. If we’re now allowing for inexcusable, violent behavior because of “triggers,” aren’t we giving validation to the sickening claims that a woman “has it coming” because she wears revealing clothing?

There’s a huge difference between guiding our children around potential pitfalls that might lead to them being bullied, and forcing them to conform to an arbitrary standard of perpetual fear. Pointing out to a child that their clothes are too revealing is ok. That’s called parenting. But excusing potential aggressors who might be tempted to hurt our children is not, no matter what the twisted reasoning for the violence.

I was bullied in school. A LOT. You know what the “trigger” was for the kids that bullied me? My height. As an adult, I’m 5’1. So what would this school, that banned the My Little Pony backpack, have had me do to prevent being attacked on a daily basis? Grow? Believe me, I tried that. What about my black friend who was bullied for his skin color, or my overweight friend who was bullied for his size?

I get that the backpack is something that is immediately changeable, unlike height, skin color, or weight. But it is still placing the focus on the symptom rather than the disease. Kids need to be taught how to act towards other people. They need to be taught that bullying is disgusting and unacceptable behavior. They need to be taught that there are consequences for bullying.

What kids DON’T need is to be taught to live in constant fear of what bullies think of them. The day that becomes the social norm is the day the bullies truly win.

Tim Wells

Dad, husband, gamer, blogger, geek. Not necessarily in that order.