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Nevada Today

Nevada Today is a nonpartisan, independently owned and operated site dedicated to providing up-to-date news and smart analysis on the issues that impact Nevada's communities and businesses.


Bullying: Childhood and Beyond

 By: Kevin L. Reichling

Bullying is a part of growing up and people become more mature when high school is over. This is conventional wisdom, but I have learned over the years that conventional wisdom isn’t always wise. I reject this way of thinking and I have come to realize that with some people, maturity is only skin deep. This may sound strange to some people, but when we leave high school, we integrate ourselves into groups of people we share things in common with. This can create an illusion that people have changed.

Children and teenagers form pecking orders that parallel those of chimpanzees and baboons. Troops of these primates are ruled by an alpha male and weaker individuals are usually lower in rank. In high schools, powerful athletes and pretty girls are often at the top of the pecking order, while those that are overweight or un-athletic are at the bottom. In a fashion similar to the apes, this social order is maintained by physical bullying, teasing, and harassment. By the end of high school, these pecking orders begin to wane, but elements of them will persist into adulthood. Also, while the behaviors and pecking orders may fade, people’s mentalities and worldviews may remain unchanged.

The reason why I say maturity is only skin deep is because people learn what they live. What someone learns or fails to learn in their youth may be with them for the rest of their life. A study in Europe found that sixty percent of bullies will have at least one criminal conviction by the time they are in their twenties and half that number had repeat offenders. Even if the bully matures, he may never fully empathize with the poor and oppressed because he has never experienced this himself. Statistically speaking, I often wonder if those that were at the bottom of the pecking order in high school are more likely to empathize with minorities or those that are treated unfairly because they experienced it while their brains were still busy wiring themselves. Are those that were at the top of the pyramid in middle school less likely to do so because they were never in a position to see what the little guy’s problem is? I would love for a sociologist to tell me if this view is valid!

This brings us to a type of adult bully known as a racist. If you think that high school is over, just look at our president and the various groups of white nationalists trying to take up arms in support of him. But why are racists racist? I suspect that many of them were the alpha males in their youth and still want to be dominant. They want to put down anyone they think belongs beneath them and they see attacks on minority groups as a way of doing that. I went to a middle school full of budding young racists and it was my observation that the racist kids beat up mostly smaller white kids (there were few minorities in that school to attack).

Then there is the issue of affirmative action. Demanding that employers hire a certain percentage of minorities was supposed to fight discrimination and help these people advance in society. One unintended consequence of this is that it created a disadvantage for the poor whites that were also having it rough. These whites, who saw they were being pushed to the back of the line by minorities, developed a perception that they were the victims of some kind of reverse-racism and this created racists that might not have existed. Now that people are scared that they may not get a job, this has become a huge problem. Also, politicians with malevolent intentions will blame the suffering of others on minorities for their own shortcomings, pumping people full of fear and anxiety. In other words, racism is where fear and narcissism collide.

Minorities, sooner or later, will begin to gravitate to the left end of the political spectrum. They do so because the social conservatives in the majority population, whether they have any hostility towards minorities or not, will begin to make them nervous. Muslim Americans are a good example. They were once fairly right-wing and this isn’t the case anymore. When minorities enter (or want to enter) politics for the first time, some politicians fear they will upset the existing order and put out propaganda denouncing the minorities. People will believe this propaganda and those that are fear-prone and those that think they belong at the top of the pecking order are the ones most likely to soak it up.

Many racists probably hate minorities not so much because of their skin color, or because they are different, but because of their politics. Left-leaning politics is all about challenging existing pecking orders, and racists don’t just freak out over minorities; you also hear them fuming over democrats, liberals, socialists, and communists. Any political philosophy that insists that pecking orders are unfair is something that upsets them. I’m surprised they don’t spend more time freaking out over the Declaration of Independence. Remember the part where it says all men are created equal?

Why do so many white men support Trump? Well, many of them, whether they are good people or not, have never been part of a minority, might not know what it is like to be oppressed, and may not even know how to recognize an oppressor. Many of them just think that Trump is getting tough on people that are stepping out of line or the media is taking things out of context. You often have to live something to learn it, and if someone learns that it pays to be a bully, they may never outgrow it. They may change their outward mannerisms (You can’t put your boss in a head-lock) but their mentality and worldview may not change much. This is why we must crack down on bullying at an early age. Bullies, when they grow up, may become useful cannon fodder for criminal gangs, terrorist organizations, or politicians with malevolent intentions. Think of all the young thugs that joined Hitler’s SA and SS.

I have included links to my book below. It describes the pecking orders that children and apes form, the causes of school shootings, and offers solutions to the problem. It also describes how nature sometimes breaks up its own pecking orders and generates cooperation among living things. It is laced with warnings of what our species may face if we do not get a grip on the problem.[amazon_link asins=’1719493693′ template=’ProductCarousel’ store=’nevadatoday-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’4b4182ab-9dc6-11e8-b664-77ea3925fbdd’]By: Kevin L. Reichling

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About Author

Kevin L. Reichling is a naturalist. He has written articles for Lets Talk Nevada, the Boulder City Review, and the Wilmington News Journal on environmental and political issues. He worked for a state park as a naturalist, for the National Park Service on an exotic plant control crew, and at a county park as a conservation technician. In college, he majored in wildlife management and educates others on environmental and social issues.

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