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Bully Program Alright

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Posted on September 11 2010 2:30 pm
David Redl is a New Jersey cartoonist turned animator who watched heated debates on cable news shows and thought, "Geez... what were THEY like as kids..." and thus Angie was born! He's worked for King Features Syndicate as staff artist drawing and animating Popeye and Betty Boop among other characters. Since 1999 he's been the animation director at Funny Garbage, a NYC design company where he wore whatever hat to get the project done, drawing storyboards, animating, organizing productions and even programming. In his spare time, Dave created "FamilyPants.com", based loosely on his blue collar father and family, winning awards and asked to appear at many film festivals. The web site continues to get regular hits and receive fan mail around the world. Ever re-thinking his comic strip creations, "Angie" became an accumulation of all past efforts and learned lessons with comic strips, cartoons and animated characters.
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Would early teaching of alternate lifestyles to children help bullies understand their victims, thus cease their bullying? What about non-gay victims, say kids who are alternate in other ways because of glasses, braces or just plain overweight? Not every bully victim is homosexual or a minority. While gays are statistically singled out the most, should the solution also single gays out? Or is there a solution for all victims?

The issue here is not sexuality, but low self-esteem. Bullies are often victims themselves of an abusive parent or relative. The resulting abuse fosters self-loathing. But rather than internalize it, they externalize it by victimizing another. The worse they make you feel, the better they feel. The bully misplaces his hatred.

Step one would be to teach the bully self-worth, maybe even jail the abusive relative and you’ll stop bullying.

Then there’s the victim. Teach the abused self worth to overcome the bully by themselves. Remember the movie “My Bodyguard” with Matt Dillon who plays “Moody” the school bully? Eventually the hero realizes by showing the bully he’s not a victim, he stopped becoming one. That and breaking Matt Dillon’s nose. (Part two could have been Moody the bully learning self confidence and self worth to overcome his abusive parent.)

Frankly, all kids suffer low self-esteem, even without a bully to instigate. The oppressor to overcome is themselves. Anybody remember growing up? The worst day in your life was getting a pimple! But at some point, you grow up and become so confident with yourself to mow your lawn wearing dress socks like your Dad and scratch himself while yelling over the mower’s roar, “Who cares what others think?”

State anti-bully programs, with good intentions, are self affirming for the program creators not the kids themselves. In enforcing their view the bodyguard becomes the bully. Perhaps they could benefit from a little self worth and self confidence class. Self-esteem, like consumer demand or private jobs, is yet something else the government cannot create. It’s something you create for yourself. Kids need to be taught how to fish and not handed a fish by the government to deal with Moodys. They’ll eventually need that lesson later in life when we start mowing their lawns in dress socks.

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