When I was in school there were bullies. My mother and father spoke of bullies in school. The writings of Charles Dickens include bullies. Ben Franklin briefly spoke of being bullied when he was a child. They seem to have always existed.
One rather annoying bully from my school days grew up into a model citizen and community leader, and you would never know that in his Jr High days he enjoyed tormenting those weaker than him. Another bully wound up spending years behind bars and is probably still trying to bully others. Some grow up and others don't.
The root of bullying is humanity's fallen nature. We seem to have an innate need to dominate and it is true in all of us, though some are able to restrain their need to dominate while others are simply incapable of acting on it.
When I was in school kids were bullied for a lot of reasons. Hair too long . . . Hair too short. Being a sl*t . . . Being a virgin. Being from a poor family . . . being a rich man's brat. Being a special ed. student . . . being an egghead. Saying grace over your lunch was a big cause too. Race wasn't much of a problem as my school was all white except for a couple of Hispanics who were treated pretty much like everyone else. Sadly, one of the biggest victims of bullying when I was in school was a girl who sexually developed about 2 years ahead of the rest the girls - - and the rest of us (I admit that I did too), being prepubescent, teased her mercilessly.
I have mixed feelings about the current "anti-bully" mood. I certainly favor not allowing kids to simply be nasty to each other but on the other hand - - - who is the bully and who is the victim? It seems to be almost dedicated to protecting sexual and religious minorities. The problem with this is that bullying becomes seen as a "protected class vs unprotected class" issue instead of an individual vs individual or small group issue. Anyone who feels that they are in power, or at least stronger than someone else, will be in a position to bully another, regardless of who they are and who their victim is and anyone who is in a vulnerable position can become the victim of a bully of any sort. (A few years ago this blog wrote about a female athlete who was being bullied
and discriminated against by the coach and the rest of the team because she was straight . . . demonstrating how anyone can be a bully and anyone can be bullied.)
I remember many years ago I read Robert Heinlein's Red Planet
and the hero of the book was a teenager with a sadistic schoolmaster. It was a revealed later that the schoolmaster who enjoyed tormenting children was the victim of sadistic bullying when he was young and this was his revenge. (At first it appeared that Professor Snape in the Harry Potter
books was the same, but it turned out to be a bit more complicated than that.) I believe this is a real problem. Former victims of bullying, who find the shoe in now on the other foot, take their revenge on the entire world and become even greater bullies than the ones that bullied them. That is what I see happening in the world and what we need to be vigilant against.
I don't believe bullying should be allowed but when it comes to anti-bullying there should be neither protected nor unprotected groups of humans.