Last year, lawmakers in the state of Minnesota imposed a vast new anti-bullying bureaucracy in public schools. The argument for it centered around the experience of gay and transgender students. The new anti-bullying gestapo aspires to eliminate any possibility of such students encountering criticism or the slightest hint of rejection. Of course, in order to do that, those holding opposing viewpoints must be criticized and rejected. Bullying remains. It’s just been institutionalized and directed toward Christians and anyone who fails to fully embrace homosexuality.
During the debate, a case was made that bullying points to a broader systematic failure within public education. The problem, some argued, is coercion. The entire system is based upon force. Students are forced to attend. Taxpayers are forced to fund. Curriculum is imposed. There is thus no way for students or parents to control their experience. You can’t leave a bad school, or leave a school where you’re not being treated well. You can’t create your own alternatives which are free of any associations you find disruptive or undesirable.
The public education system has been designed from the ground up to punish individuality. Psychologist Michael J. Hurd expounds:
Children are not taught to learn in their own ways at paces they can personally handle, while still adhering to objective standards of truth, fact and knowledge. Instead, we strive for normalcy, as defined by the rulers in charge. We seek out teachers who pursue master’s degrees in the nonspecific (and indefinable) field of “education,” while knowing little or nothing about the subjects they’re expected to teach. We require teachers to teach for the sake of nationalized tests, more in the pursuit of attaining scores that make the schools look collectively good rather than actually catering to the highly individualized, while still objective, process of learning and thinking.
Hurd argues that such methodology leads naturally to bullying behavior.
Children, who are generally quite perceptive and good at following the lead of their elders this way, hear the message. Whenever someone does not “fit,” they put the offending person down. This doesn’t happen because the person is bad or ineffective, by some rational standard. It happens merely because the person is different, and for no other reason. We have trained children to belong to the group, first and foremost. Adults are motivated by group conformity and authority, particularly in the government school model; children perceptively sense this, and (most of them) respond in kind.
The root cause of school bullying and subsequent suicides is the public school system itself. We have turned our children over to an institution of collectivism which punishes people for being different. It’s a condition we would never tolerate in any other area of our lives, where we monitor and control our associations in pursuit of our own happiness.
The real solution to bullying is freedom, the freedom to associate in particular. It works in two ways. First, it provides a mechanism by which to insulate victims from bullies. If a particular student poses a problem, the school deals with him accordingly or you take your student out of that school.
More broadly, a culture of freedom undermines the mindset which leads to bullying in the first place. If no expectation exists that everyone “fit in” and “be normal,” then fewer children will develop the compulsion to enforce that expectation among their peers.