Monday, March 25, 2013

What do HOOKED, Seth Winter, Bullies and an African Village Have In Common?

I heard this on a local Phoenix radio program recently.  It's one of those things that's so simple that it's pure genius.

While the radio host could not confirm the specific remote village mentioned (I believe it's somewhere in the Congo, after having done some Google searches), here's how an African village has been dealing with its bullies for hundreds of years:

Whenever someone within this particular village bullies another, they put the bully in the middle of their village--not on trial but more like display.  For two days, every person in the village must visit the bully and tell him something nice or positive that he (the bully) does or has done.  That's because the people of this village believe that everyone is born good.  Bullying tendencies are learned and a sign of insecurity (totally agree!) and may be even a cry for help.  This village has found this simple process to be an effective way for bullies to redeem themselves.

It made me think of Seth Winter in Hooked.  Seth is truly a bully and his behavior is disturbing throughout most of the book.  While Seth is fictional, I'm no stranger to being bullied and I would suggest that almost everyone is bullied at some point in some way during his or her life.  If you have been, then you know that horrible awful feeling deep in your chest and the pit of your stomach when it happens.  Fear, dread--it gets wrapped up into a tight ball inside of you.

As a kid, I remember this one girl in my neighborhood and for some reason she had me on her radar.  She was older, bigger and faster than me.  She liked to challenge me to races and contests as we walked home from school, taunting me if I refused.  I remember that awful feeling of being afraid to see her and I used to come up with interesting ways to avoid her after school. She was positively evil and cruel and I thought: could I go up to her if she had been put on display and say something nice about her in the way of this African village?  Curious.  It's an interesting proposition.

Could you confront your bully, maybe even a Seth Winter, in this manner?  If given the opportunity, would you?


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

That's an interesting way to deal with a bully, but I can see how it would work. Like you, I believe bullies have really low self esteems, which is why they bully in the first place.

shelly said...

I agree with Alex. In high school I was bullied by a group of girls all through out my tenure. They grew up and still bully...but not me.

Hugs and chocolate,

Karen Walker said...

I never had to deal with physical bullies, but emotional bullies, lots. I kind of like the way the African village handles it. If they've been doing it for hundreds of years, I wonder if it works or it's just tradition.

Anonymous said...

I like the way that village thinks.

I don't remember any bullying from my childhood. It was probably there but I've blocked it out or forgotten it.

However, we've had to deal with bullies where our kids are concerned. Like that village, I've encouraged my kids to find the good in people and express that to them. It usually works.

LD Masterson said...

One on one, maybe it's possible to deal with a bully this way but too often bullies travel together, all encouraging the bad behavior of the others. So hard to overcome that kind of negative peer support.

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

That village's way of dealing with bullies is absolutely brilliant. Psychology tells us that people react to both positive and negative reinforcement. Natch, most of us would prefer the positive, but in the absence of that, negative is often chosen over being ignored. Bad feedback trumps being dismissed as irrelevant. Sounds like that village understands that, and acts on it.

Amy Jarecki said...

I love it! What an excellent way to deal with bullies!