The territorial disputes in the South China Sea prompted the newspaper The Guardian to title an article from April 9, 2015, “Obama says China bullying smaller nations[….]”. The same word, related to China’s maritime policy, is used in the leading business and finance newspaper The Australian Financial Review (September 24, 2015). One can dress a long list with the word “bully” and the hot issue boiling the diplomacy and the military options in those waters.
The US could not miss the club of planetary bullies: Bill Maher questioned, with a touch of satire, on September 14, 2013, in The Guardian, the American Big Brother role – “The US: world’s policeman or schoolyard bully?”
The purpose of this post is not to analyse the current international affairs, and specifically not to make a judgment over the “bullying” attribute of great powers policies.
Neither are the articles mentioned above taking the term “bully” as a politological descriptor, it rather serves as a journalistic catchword. This is obvious in the last quoted article, where bullying is plainly confined to schools.
It suggests a huge difference of social weight between the world politics playground and the schoolyard, the association assuming a conscious ridicule: adults, political leaders can’t be nasty kids, they aren’t childish.
Bullying isn’t a phenomenon characteristic only for young people under 18 years. The new definition of bullying (Volk, Dane & Marini), expanding the classical one (Dan Olweus, 1993) is not age or social status restrictive:
“Bullying is aggressive goal-directed behavior that harms another individual within the context of a power imbalance/costs vs benefits” (reputation, resources, reproduction).
The authors set the whole discussion in a comprehensive historical context, defined by the evolutionary theory.
With this in mind, we can return to the international political landscape and then go back as deep as we want in history, to recall so many instances we can of costs vs benefits actions on the background of imbalance or balance of power. In this historical environment, from “power” to “violence” is just one step.
Violence is deep rooted in the making of civilization, a thin veneer poised any moment for apocalypse.
Kazarian & Amar put the finger on the wound, when stating the close relation between school bullying and the violence inlaid in the social texture:
“school bullying is a product of societal commitment to a culture of war rather than a culture of peace”.
Although focused on the Arab society, the statement maintains its validity, with minor adjustments, to other parts of the world.
The same researchers trace the causality of school bullying to some mass media programs:
“Consistent with the socio-cultural perspective, mass media portrayal and glorification of violence is implicated in violence among Arab youth in the Arab world. More specifically, it is observed that Western and Turkish movies and dramatic shows ‘feed a violent spirit among Arab children and youth, gives them the illusion that violence is a powerful weapon for use, and that violence is the ideal approach to resolving problems'”.
Nassem & Harris also blame mass media for encouraging bullying, in equation with systemic inequality:
“the most common reason children engage in bullying is to be popular with their peers simply mimicking the behaviour of adults . Reality shows on television such as The X Factor and Big Brother, celebrity news magazines and tabloid newspapers often ridicule individuals for entertainment”.
All policies or laws aiming to cope with bullying and especially with school bullying should follow the big picture, the intricate, historical links between violence, power struggle strategies and tactics and bullying at all levels.
The major gap between the advanced technology proudly defining our civilization and the lagging mentalities (a convenient buzzword) and institutions is strikingly illustrated by the bullycide rate of teens in Japan, tied with the new school year – the suicide prevention week is not only about kids, it is a reminder of the arduous task to get rid of our Homo Bullyiens layer.
By Cristi V Andrei
 Here a few picked-up references:
a) Goodstein, Phyllis Kaufman, How to Stop Bullying in Classrooms andSchools: Use Social Architecture to Prevent, Lessen and End Bullying http://goo.gl/JYYyg0
b) Clarke, Elisabeth, No More Bullying – Helping A Bullied Or Cyberbullied Child http://goo.gl/Gcs2zP
c) Espelage & Hatzenbuehler are bringing to attention the dilemma “school climate or social norms/policies or laws”
d) Interesting, bibliotherapy (Andreou, Paparoussi,Gkouni) is starting at the same time with the Internet, when a competition emerged between the two types of literacy.
All anti bullying programs are recommending activities to be carried out in the classroom, school, family and the (local) community. What they are usually missing is the community at large, the flawed political architecture and of the many unquestioned traditions, showing a remarkable resilience/a hardly to break frame against anti bullying procedures inspired by such theories as the social architecture theory and the social scaffolding theory.(Goodstein, review by Thomas J. Doyle).
 Another startling Asian example is South Korea:
“In 2013, the suicide rate of 10-24 year-olds in South Korea was 9.4 persons per 100,000 whereas the average suicide rate for the similar age-group in the nations within the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) was 6.5 persons per 100,000” (Min A, Park SC, Jang EY, Park YC, Choi J). The authors have founded that bullying victimization was indirectly related to suicidal ideation, mediated by depressive symptoms, whereas bullying perpetration was directly related to suicidal ideation.