Calling a rose a rose « The Socjournal

I just put my kids on the school bus.

I had to talk to to the bus driver this morning about some of the other kids. Turns out my kids are being picked on by others on the bus. One person says “raise your hands if you think ‘so and so’ is stupid” and everybody raises their hands. One other child calls my daughter a “vagina picker” and one kid likes to trip people as they go by.

So, I talk to the bus driver, relate the story, and he looks at me and says, it’s really not that bad.

*Cough, cough, * I sputter, not sure what I heard I say “what?”

He repeats.

“It’s not that bad.”

So I correct him.

“No, it is bad.”

“It’s emotional abuse.”

“It’s name calling.”

“I’ll pull my kids off your bus.”

“I’ll keep them home.”

“Oh OK, I’ll talk to them,” he says.




What is it about our bleeping culture that makes it OK for children to be exposed to abuse?

I mean really, it’s not a huge moral or intellectual leap to see that its wrong.

Can you imagine if I walked into that bus, looked at the kids and said “raise your hands if you think your bus driver is an idiot!”


Open mouths.

Dr. Mike lying on the ground, punched out by irate bus driver who I’ve just insulted.

Its shocking to think I would do that to another adult, but it is everyday “normal” when kids do it to each other.

As a sociologist I have to ask, why is that? Why we do let our kids beat up on each other like that when we wouldn’t tolerate for an instant the same behavior from an adult.

Well, for one reason, we excuse.

We justify it.

We think its OK.

“Kids are kids?” right?

“Boys will be boys,” correct?

Roll out the same old excuses and then walk walk away with self satisfaction, but those are just excuses.

Here’s a thought experiment for you.

Go to work, find the geekiest co-worker, stand him up in front of everyone and then ask everyone around you to raise their hands if you think he’s stupid.

I don’t have to spell it out.

It is easy to see.

If I did that I would be bullying my coworker.

If I did that I would be engaged in some pretty nasty  emotional abuse.

Its is inconceivable that we could do that at work, in a restaurant, on the street, and even more so to think we’d get away with it.

But if a kid does that, no big deal.


Because we don’t see it as emotional abuse when a kid does it.

When I talked to the bus driver today, he didn’t think my kids were being abused.

“It’s not that bad,” he says.

And he’s not the only one who would minimize that situation so…


Why don’t we see it when our kids are being abused?

We do we justify?

We do we excuse?

Why do we minimize?

Now that’s a good question and one worthy of some serious sociological attention.

Why do we allow our children to do that to each other?

Well, I think there may be a couple of reasons for that.

For one, maybe we’re doing it to our kids and therefore don’t want to see it as abusive. I work with abused people and a large part of their stories involve physical, emotional, and psychological abuse perpetrated by their parents.

Screaming, yelling, slaps, name calling.

Putting the child down.

Making it feel bad.

Going to work with a pleasant smile.

Coming home, doing it again.

Perhaps if we called a rose a rose on the bus, and in the school, and in the church, and on the street, the carefully constructed facade of how we’re all such good parents would begin to crumble.

Perhaps if we saw the Truth on the bus, we’d see the Truth in our homes.

And maybe we’re not ready to look at the Truth.

And maybe we’re too uncomfortable to think it.

For two, when you think about it, covering up reality is what we’ve been trained to do.

Take a look at your childhood.

How many of you had parents that hit you, or called you names, or made you feel stupid, beat you, put you in a corner, shoved you in the basement, or yelled at you all the time.

And how many of you minimize the abuse you experienced?

Don’t you remember how bad it made you feel when you were a child?

Don’t you remember the tears, the anguish, the desperate longing for love, and the self loathing that you experienced?

Of course you don’t.

Male or female, you were told to stuff it in, pretend it wasn’t bad, and (when people came over) pretend you lived in a happy family.

And that’s what you did.

“Quit being such a baby.”

“Quit feeling so bad.”

“Go to your room until you smarten up.”

Get out of my face until you stop feeling the pain.

GROW UP for God’s sake! (wow, now if that isn’t using using God’s name in vain, I don’t know what is).

“Smile and be real good or else because we’ve got company coming.”


That’s it.

Grownups don’t feel

Grownups don’t hurt.

Grownups pretend!!

And besides, you don’t want to remember because to do so it would make you feel like that hurt child once again, and you don’t want to feel like that hurt child.It’s just to ugly a felling and you don’t want to have anything to do with those ugly feelings you once had because if if you admitted the abuse on the bus…

If you saw it for what it was…

Then you’d have to admit that maybe your childhood wasn’t as good as you thought.

Then you’d have to take a hard look at the parents who engaged in the actions.

Then you’d have to admit you’d been the victim of abuse.

Then you’d have to remember and if you did then who knows where that might lead.

You whole world might come crumbling down.

And goodness, you don’t want that, do you?

So instead of confronting reality let’s selfishly pretend that child abuse is OK, OK?

Let’s call it spanking, and not assault.

Let’s call it discipline, and not verbal abuse.

Let’s say “it’s not so bad after all,” and go on with our lives and sacrifice yet another generation to the world and the wheel.

Or not.

I guess we could pout a stop to it in our lives, and the lives of others right now.

But that will take courage, fortitude, and the strength to look at the lives we live and say, “hey, that’s wrong.”

We all a choice. It’s up to you I guess what happens next I guess.

Tweet This Post

No related posts.

Posted by Dr. Michael Sosteric on January 21, 2011.

Tags: Abuse, bullying, Socialization, violence in society

Categories: Editor’s Desk, Michael Sosteric