The shocking revelations about bullying in American Football has left many people around the globe perplexed, bewildered and befuddled about the perception and understanding of bullying in the world today.
Richie Incognito claims leaving racists and threatening voice mail messages on another team member’s mobile phone telling them you’ll assault their mother and defecate in their mouth is no more than harmless football related locker room behavior. Similarly, Jonathan Martin’s equally outrageous threats to Incognito’s family are a deep cause for concern too given that such communications are considered de rigueur in their NFL locker room. Their obvious lack of moral understanding and responsibility for their actions is reflected in comments by a Fox News broadcaster too. Tucker Carlson of Fox News claimed that bullying is a fad just like the notion of self esteem, and will soon die out and that we are simply witnessing a case of mass hysteria over a very small internal matter between major NFL players. Other former NFL players and commentators like Tim Ryan, Tiki Barker and News anchor Rick Williams offered similar poorly reasoned justifications for Incognito and Martins debased and immoral behavior.
Tucker Carlson, Tim Ryan, Tiki Barker and Rick Williams are wrong. Get your head out of the sand boys!
Bullying occurs in every institution-from schools through to corporate, governmental and sporting bodies. It is rife in every human institution. It is a world-wide phenomenon which must be eliminated. It causes terrible personal suffering and is known to be a prime cause of suicide throughout the world.
Recently a string of bullying related sexual offenses came to light in the Military institutions of the United States and Australia -these serious incidents are more than just a fad guys!
The statistics are frightening. It is estimated that one in four adolescents are bullied. Nine out of ten Lesbian and Gay students experience online harassment and physical harm in schools. It is estimated that as many as 160,000 students stay at home daily because of the fear of being bullied. What’s more extraordinary is that up to one in five children and adolescents admit to being a bully. 43% of school kids fear being bullied using a school bathroom. It is estimated that 228, 000 students are physically attacked in high schools each month. Over 40% of kids have been bullied online and it is claimed that 93% of middle school children are bullied while online. 21% of kids have received mean or threatening emails, while 53% of kids clam to have said mean or threatening things to another person. (Hunter, 2012)
Some people think that bullying or ‘hazing’ is a normal right of passage into adulthood because it exists as acceptable behavior in sporting and other institutions. Well, it isn’t normal and it isn’t a right of passage. It’s cruel and violent and marks the beginning of a lifetime of intentional, cruel and callous psychopathic behavior for the perpetrators as evidenced by Incognito and Martin’s behavior.
Richie Incognito offers the opportunity for a global reflection on what we are doing to kids in our society’s institutions to turn them into thugs and bullies. In the meantime Mr. Incognito along with his supporters would do well to remember that contempt of others is as Alice Miller explains “the weapon of the weak and a defense against one’s own despised and unwanted feelings of inadequacy”. (Miller, 1985)
Hunter, O. (2012, February 14). National statistics on bullying in schools. Retrieved November 12, 2013, from ALICETX.COM: http://www.alicetx.com/news/article_87be339a-5658-11e1-a087-0019bb2963f4.html
Miller, A. (1985). For Your Own Good: Hidden Cruelty in Child-Rearing and the Roots of Violence . Farrar, Straus and Giroux.