Tuesday, February 14, 2017


Reflecting over at Grim's on Meryl Streep's pearl-clutching about how brave she is to receive criticism, even from bots, it occurred to me that middle-schoolers endure worse.  We forget, because we learned something and survived, but these tender souls, as part of the toughening that seems hard-wired into the species, have terrible things said to them.  Small mistakes are remembered and highlighted; attributes over which they have no control, such as names or physical attributes, are fair game for insults, murmured in line where authorities cannot hear, or even shouted out loud. They get roughly shouldered, or shoved. Sometimes it is worse and they get beaten or assaulted.

Plus whatever adults throw at them, which is sometimes worse because it carries the weight of authority. 

They have little experience with this - they turn pink, they make it worse with bad replies, they don't know if it is better to fight back or walk away. (Answer: it depends.) They cannot get away. Blessed are the oblivious.  Adults have much more choice about who they associate with or where they can go.

They are in many ways braver than adults, who would sue the ass off someone who pulled this crap on them at work or in a store. It's not easy.  If you have contact with the young, even those who have seemingly easy lives, it might do to let them know that they are braver than they thought, endure more than is generally recognised, and will likely rely on the courage they are developing now.


Who Struck John said...

Well said!

jaed said...

It wouldn't hurt adults who deal with middle-schoolers, either, to run their advice and decisions through a "would I say or do this to an adult enduring this?" filter. "Just ignore them!" is terrible advice in most cases. "You should think about what you might have done to provoke them!" is even worse.

This sort of Job's-comforters nonsense can rip the heart and will right out of a child who's being bullied, and make it impossible to develop that courage at all. You can't develop courage to resist if you learn to think of bullying as being somehow your fault.

Roy Lofquist said...

Sensitive? Attention whore more likely.

Sam L. said...

I don't recall having problems of this sort when I was in junior high. Or senior high.
I'm guessing I was oblivious, or just wasn't listening.

Grim said...

Good post.