A common form of bullying among children in Israel is exclusion. A few days ago, yet another sad story surfaced on Israeli media, describing the social exclusion of children who are going through the summer vacation without any friends because they were excluded. The story featured regular children, well dressed, articulate, perfectly normal children whose paths crossed with someone who did not like them and managed to turn the whole class against them. Exclusion has become the dread of many schoolchildren and parents, and the phenomenon seems to have no solution at the moment.
I think it is not the children’s fault. It is not the fault of the excluded, and not the fault of the children who exclude. It is the fault of the adults. Because adult society is deeply hostile, and alienation and ill-will prevail, it seeps into all parts of society, including the children’s society. As a result, children are excluded, abused, and bullied by their peers. The problem will not be solved until adults solve it among themselves, and that will mend the situation everywhere else.
With such a fractured society, it cannot be any other way. Everyone feels superior to others, and our egos make us inconsiderate and abusive toward others just to assert our superiority. From here to exclusion of others, there is a very short distance.
When this is the atmosphere in the adult society, it has to trickle down the system and reach the children’s society. But when children who had experienced exclusion grow up, the bitter memory of their ordeal will stay with them and impact their attitude toward society.
This is fertile ground for rearing misfits and psychopaths who seek to avenge society for the pain it had caused them. Because their world was ruined by the society, they will strive to ruin the society in return.
The only solution to the menace we are preparing for ourselves is to work on our cohesion and solidarity. Unless we strive to increase our unity in the adult society, above all the differences between us, we should not expect children to do the same. If we fight against each other, gossip, slander, and vilify others simply because they are different from us, we should not expect children, who learn by example, to be kind and caring toward their peers.
Children reflect their role models, and their role models are us. Since we exclude, so do they.
Once we change ourselves, we should also change our education system. Our games should change from fierce competition to collaboration and inclusion. Through games, we can teach children to find the benefit in togetherness, friendship, and solidarity.
There can still be challenges in games, but the challenges should be such that only when children collaborate, they can succeed.
Gradually, they will learn that they are stronger together, and how the unique qualities of every child make the whole a stronger unit. We must do this, and do it quickly because our society is raising angry, vengeful children.