Bullying can start at an early age. It usually involves an act of ridiculing and shunning the intended victim, who is deliberately being mistreated. Moreover the bully sometimes is an individual and sometimes bullies can be an entire coordinated group of children assaulting a singled out person.

All school aged bullies pick on either one child or a number of children especially when the latter are members of another group. They are targeted because he or they are defined as having unsatisfactory traits, habits, customs or ethnic backgrounds. He or they may have a frowned upon sexual identification, socio-economic status, gender, skin color, religion, looks or any other feature labeled as ugly and deemed undesirable.

The ones being verbally and/or physically accosted are usually defined as being intrinsically different, inferior and undeniably unacceptable. They are also viewed as being subhuman.

Indeed, the youths who pick on other ones seem to relish making fun of and denigrating their browbeaten peers. Perhaps it gives them a feeling of superiority, power, enjoyable domination and control. All the same, they dismiss the thought that crushed children could have any sense of humanity or underlying value. In this vein, their only worth is to be the butt of mean jokes and recipients of belittlement. In relation, prejudice, intolerance, conflicts and violence may be fomented.

Further the undeniable rejection and derision can have a lifelong impact on harmed individuals. For example, a cast aside youngster can become awkward and tongue-tied when meeting new children or be needful to have a sense of belonging.

Similarly she could be motivated to seek caring and acceptance from people who take advantage of her. If a teenager, she can also decide to have a baby so as to have someone (an infant) to love and need her. She can also choose to join a criminal gang so as to have comradery or she can even kill herself out of abject despair. All of these events have doubtlessly taken place with rejected, maligned children.

Other animals besides humans also attack members of their own kind. For example, a mother gorilla after giving birth to an albino baby will rub mud all over his fur so that he will look like other members of his family. That way, he will, at least temporarily, avoid getting killed due to his anomalous looks.

When a hunter is looking for a way to capture a whole flock of birds, he will catch one and paint it white after which the creature will be freed to go back to his companions. Yet upon seeing him, the others will be began pecking him to death.

As he tumbles downward in the air in an increasingly injured state, the vicious other birds chase and surround him until the whole group hits the ground. Then the hunter throws a net over them all and they become either eaten or sold with cages as pets.

Like the gorillas and birds, meerkats will also attack others of their kind. For example, only the head female is allowed to breed in each family. So if another female breeds in the same pride, she will be cast out by her kin to go live alone in the wilderness. More often than not, this abandonment leads to her death from starvation or a ravenous hungry animal looking for an easily caught meal.

Further, meerkats will kill youngsters of another meerkat family. They adults will eagerly raid the others’ den where the young children are stashed so as to bite and claw them to death. They will also attack the meerkat left for guard duty with the youngsters while family members are out feeding. In fact, he will be lucky to escape with his life while under attack by a mob of vicious foreign meerkats.

So why do some wild animals destroy members of their own kind? A prevalent theory on the topic is that they are getting rid of competitors for valuable resources or desirable territory. Another underlying conjecture is that they were genetically honed to not trust strangers or members of another troop. So group cohesion and minimalizing danger from outsiders seem likely causally involved. Besides, having a tightly knit group, as well as being able to distinguish between friends and foes, usually increases chances of survival.

With humans, it is much more complicated than mere evolutionary causes and learned attitudes. In fact, deception, lies and propaganda are often used to get a favored outcome that those in power want. Indeed they can sway whole groups and group members can, then, continue to sway each other to hold firmly to the wanted mindset.

A perfect case in point involved the niece of the ambassador to the US from Kuwait. She deliberately lied and aired a fabricated story that murderous Iraq soldiers had been commanded to invade a Kuwait hospital and unplugged all of the incubators with premature children in them so as to kill them.

Well, who could believe such an outlandish improbable account? Well, apparently a large portion of the American public could do so. Then they became gung-ho for our country to bomb and shoot up Iraq. Thereby the niece indirectly generated a “us versus them” mentality leading to payback for the bogus incubator deaths.

You probably know that war that started with a lie. It’s the one that Alan Greenspan stated was largely related to the USA wanting Iraq’s oil. And the result was that around a million and a half lives were lost; more people became terrorists in the urge to revengefully pay back America; and the US taxpayers were on the hook for the approximate five to six billion dollars that were spent in that vile and contemptible US invasion.

In any case, prejudices and hated of single and whole groups of people create inequitable opportunities in work, school and other areas of life. In short, the bullied people are routinely held back from achieving their full potential. Similarly, tendencies (such as the tendency to want protection for premature children) can be exploited and manipulated by those who would create a sense of intolerance, bigotry, hatred or indifference toward people (I.e., the Iraqis) being either assaulted verbally or physically.

In the end, people, even when very young, tend to avoid strangers and are not inclined to like all people. Obviously this tendency imparts an evolutionary advantage since not everyone is in fact trustworthy. In any event, youngsters can and do discriminate against unfamiliar others and show hostility towards outsiders, ones not a part of their group due to their seeming too different.

Furthermore, intolerance of unaccepted others is sometimes rooted in racism, homophobia, snobbery, transphobia, sexism and a whole bunch of other “isms.” that harm marginalized persons. Moreover, they are often completely rejected from the dominant group. Thus counseling from a school psychologist, a school guidance counselor, a religious leader, therapist or someone else can help curtail bullying behaviors, along with helping the bullied victims. In such a way, a whole society can delimit the harm created by people who casually and deliberately damage others.

After all is said and done:

Maya Angelou: People will forget what you said…

Sally Dugman lives in Massachusetts, USA.



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