Sunday, July 30, 2017

Bullying: How far does parents’ influence extend?

Comic strip in three left-to-right panels. In the first panel, a caption reads,'Remembering ... a play-date that ended badly.' A man points at a little girl and tells her, 'You are NEVER allowed to play at my child's house again!' The second panel is a close-up of the man, with a hostile, sneering expression on his face. The caption reads, 'I don't remember WHY he acted this way toward me ... but I can't help but wonder.' The third panel is a close-up of the girl. The caption reads, 'How far did his influence spread: From his child to other children at my school who rejected me?'
Comic strip created with Pixton online interface

In The No Asshole Rule, a book about workplace bullying (Warner Business Books, 2007), Robert I. Sutton discusses research by Dan Olweus into bullying among children in Norway, which included long-term, follow-up studies of bullies and their victims.

The research indicated, it was possible to predict which children would become bullies, “typically those who were raised by cold or aggressive parents, those whose parents let them get away with aggression, and those who had a history of ‘an active and hotheaded temperament’ before starting school.”

A commentor on Facebook also raised the issue of parents who influence children’s bullying — so being exposed to two such references in so short a time, I thought I’d take up the dialogue.

Here’s a comic I created with the Pixton online interface. (I’m a geek for trying out cartoon-generation apps.) The comic strip examines my memory of a playmate’s father telling me that I would never be allowed to play at his child’s house again.

I have no memory of what prompted this man to reject me as a playmate for his child, but I can’t help but wonder: Did the child absorb the parent’s prejudice and spread it to other children? How far did this influence travel among children who rejected me?

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