OPINION: Tony Volk discusses bullying

Tony Volk, Professor of Child and Youth Studies at Brock University, had a piece recently published in the Hamilton Spectator about bullying.

He writes:

“Will we ever be able to stop bullying?

I’m not talking about meanness, or horseplay, or fighting, or any of the many other unfortunate but mostly normal activities kids (and adults!) engage in.

I’m talking about bullying: the deliberate exploitation of a power imbalance for the gain of one individual over another.

It’s an understandable question. From politics to policing, the schoolyard to social media, bullying seems to be everywhere these days, causing both mental and physical harm for those on the receiving end.

The answer, of course, is complicated. Bullying is unfortunately effective at times (just ask Donald Trump or Vladimir Putin). And those successful episodes of bullying can be socially contagious.

Bullying is almost certainly common to all living things — even plants get bullied. It’s part of an evolutionary strategy designed to harness aggression against those who are weaker, in the search of resources, reputation and reproduction.

But unlike plants (indeed, unlike any other species at all), humans have evolved to be exceedingly co-operative. We fight, but we also help each other, including strangers and sometimes, other species. We are built to co-operate and to be selfish, and the balance between the two is why we are good (but not that good).”

Continue reading the full article on the Hamilton Spectator website.

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