An All American Bully
How is the presidential election affecting children? The Trump Effect: The Impact of The 2016 Presidential Election on Our Nation’s Schools surveyed over 10,000 teachers, counselors, administrators and others who work in schools. The survey data indicate that the results of the election are having a profoundly negative impact on schools and students. Ninety percent of educators report that school climate has been negatively affected, and most of them believe it will have a long-lasting impact. A full 80 percent describe heightened anxiety and concern on the part of students worried about the impact of the election on themselves and their families. Also on the upswing: verbal harassment, the use of slurs and derogatory language, and disturbing incidents involving swastikas, Nazi salutes and Confederate flags. In her article below and more to come on Kindred, Kristen Caven, co-author of The Bullying Antidote: Superpower Your Kid For Life and co-founder of The Zorgas Project shares her insights and resources for preparing yourself and your child for the cultural swing toward normalizing bullying through our new Bully-In-Chief’s ongoing example.
Read more on how we got here, the neuroscience insights into the Trump phenomenon and what’s really happening by Kindred contributors here.
An All American Bully
America’s powerful attraction to the irreverent charm of Donald Trump is absolutely baffling to educated Americans and to the rest of the world. No matter how many stories of his racist speech, his sexist attitudes, his unethical business practices, or his rudeness to just about everybody came to light during the race, no matter how many platform questions he dodged, no matter how many people of all stripes he proudly harassed, he somehow came out the winner. But politics are often where we see bullying and most clearly… and where we also see Zorgos, it’s antidote.
ZORGOS is the superpower that defeats bullying. The overall intent is not just to stop a single bullying incident, but to develop immunity in today’s children to future bullying events. The Bullying Antidote shows how parents and community leaders, by becoming educated about the mechanics of power dynamics and prevention, can build bully-free, emotionally safe families, neighborhoods, and communities.
Here is a concept you can share with others to create conversation.
The reason Trump may be so beloved by his supporters is that so many Americans relate to the bullying dynamic. A bully’s true power comes from his or her followers, who perceive dominance as strength and who feel, themselves, like victims of the target. Allying with a bully makes an insecure person feel stronger. They project their fears onto the target and feel as if the bully is the hero.
Americans have certainly been victims of bad politics. They have also been the beneficiaries of good politics. But the narrative of the Conservative Media and the tactics of the Republican Party have been, for years, to complain about all politics, diverting attention away from real problems and keeping it focused on distressing images of potential dangers. Americans, like innocent bystanders, don’t realize they have been played until after someone gets hurt.
Today, I am reeling, like so many others, at the beating our democracy, and our decency, has taken. The Democrats put forth the most experienced, hardworking, growth-oriented changemaker available, and she was defeated by fear-fueled hatred and misogyny. The candidate who won on the facts was smeared by suspicion and rumor by someone who actually has behaved criminally. And what we face, going forward, is a nation divided by lies.
After a bullying episode, the only tool currently at our disposal that does not continue the cycle of retribution is the practice of Restorative Justice. This takes place in communities, where victims share their pain and bullies hear it. Where empathy is built, common goals are identified, and solutions are created by all. In these conversations, the bully is not seen as the leader. His power is neutralized by the greater voice of the community.
And so it is with politics. As much as they may sound like it, presidents are not dictators. In a bullying situation, a target recovers by disengaging and re-grouping. You are not the boss of me. You do not get to decide who I am. This experience does not define me. I make my own choices, and I choose to be better than this.
Featured image Shutterstock/hotgor61