BY DAISAKU IKEDA
How could anyone imagine there are people in the world who deserve to be bullied? Bullying is a base and vicious act that can never and must never be legitimated.
People are not bullied because they are weak. Rather, bullying reflects the inner weakness of the perpetrators, their inability to resist their own ugliest impulses. As Mahatma Gandhi pointed out, violence is ultimately born of cowardice.
The first step in dealing with bullying is to transform the cultural attitudes that permit it. This requires that we state clearly that the blame for bullying rests 100 percent with those who bully.
This further requires that adults — whether parents or teachers — who become aware of bullying speak up, demonstrating a model of courage and action to children. Equally crucial is the effort to become the kind of person that a child being victimized by bullying can turn to with confidence. We need to be able to discern the often silent pleas of such children.
Bullying came to light as a serious social problem in Japan in the 1980s. The various forms of violence that had plagued schools in the 1970s had been brought under control but, it has been suggested, the forcefulness of the measures used to achieve this left the underlying issues unresolved, pushing violence underground and inward. The aggression once directed against teachers and the schools themselves was turned against classmates.
Continued in part 3.
Daisaku Ikeda is president of Soka Gakkai International, and founder of Soka University and the Toda Institute for Global Peace and Policy Research. This column appears on this page the second Thursday of every month.
The Japan Times: Thursday, Feb. 8, 2007
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