And if we remain trapped, Bazelon’s call for “character and empathy” can only go so far. As bell hooks writes of patriarchal thinking, it socializes all of us to “embrace an ethics of domination which says the powerful have the right to rule over the powerless and can use any means to subordinate them.” Violence, hooks argues, is a means of social control, manifested in many different forms: “war, male violence against women, adult violence against children, teenage violence, racial violence, etc.” And bullying. Bazelon calls for parents, educators, and young people to cultivate kindness and self-esteem. That may go a great deal to reducing school-age violence, but the marginalized child with high self-esteem is still running the wrong way on a moving walkway. If most of us survive bullying and grow stronger from it, as Bazelon argues, it is because we have learned to manage within the restrictions imposed upon us. As a kid I stopped being bullied for being genderqueer when I grew my hair out and started wearing girl t-shirts.
-“Bully Meets World” by Molly Knefel
image by Julie Cockburn