Perceived rights and political correctness are teaching our kids to bully

Commentary by Derold Bates, Ed.S

We hear a lot about bullying these days. Is this something new or are we just hearing more about it now?

If we define bullying as “One forcing his will over another’s will” that is as old as human history. So, why is it such a big thing now?

To understand why this is true, we should examine some factors that are at work in today’s society:

First: Human Rights. Human rights, as I see it, is a good thing gone bad. We all believe in human rights; Every human should expect to be treated with dignity and respect. Every person should have the right to equal and fair treatment. However, with that right there is a responsibility to treat others the same way. With the increase of two working parent families and single parent families, the teaching of these values in the home has been neglected to the point that kids think almost exclusively of rights but not of their responsibilities.  As long as people accept the responsibility that goes with the rights, human rights is a good thing.

Here is how it went bad: these untaught children grew up. Therefore, more people are focused on their right to receive fair and equal treatment without taking the responsibility to treat others the same way. People began demanding those rights without accepting the responsibilities that go along with them. This changes the whole picture; now it has become a right to bully by banding together and demanding their entitlement to have those rights. 

Therefore it now works like this: When the party of the first part forces his will over the will of the party of the second part, it is seen as a violation of the human rights of the party of the second part and cries are heard for action to be taken against the party of the first part by a party of a third part. This translates to a bigger bully bullying the first bully.

Second, political Correctness has become a phrase that raises a warning flag that we may say something that is offensive to some individuals or groups. Some judges in our court system have bent over backwards to not offend these people while ignoring the rights of the majority of the people. I am not aware of any right guaranteed in the constitution, to “not be offended” by words and actions of others. As a result Supreme Courts even use their position as a bully pulpit to over-ride the will of the people in order to not offend a few.

Here I would raise the question, can we stop bullying by bullying?  My answer would be, yes we can for one particular incident. That’s why we do it. Can we cure the problem of bullying by bullying? Certainly we cannot. In fact we promote it with our own bullying.

So how can we counteract these forces and teach our children not to bully?

First, parents can teach by example and words, better ways to solve problems. They can teach social skills such as respecting others and treating them with dignity and respect rather than bullying and teaching bullying.

Second, parents can screen, monitor and limit the child’s media exposure and use. These things are not easy for busy parents but they will make a difference.

We can prevent bullying, at least in our own children. If many parents do it we will make a difference in larger communities. If all parents do it we can make a difference in the world.

More examples of teaching children to take responsibility can be found in “Three Steps to Success in Parenting and in Life” By Derold “De” Bates .Ed.S. See Step 3; Enjoy the Journey,  p 26-37. Find the book on line at, and click on Amazon; Barnes and Noble or Outskirts press. E-mail questions or comments to

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