Wednesday, November 29, 2006

One of the real reasons for people running amok: mobbing

As I had expected, the discussion about violent computer games - also known as 'Killerspiele' in Germany - is already decreasing. As some people in the MangasZene-forum pointed out, there were more sensible voices this time, especially in the more local newspapers, and thus the politicians seem to have realized the voters won't fall for it this easily this time. I didn't expect changes in the German law anyway ... that didn't work out last time either.

The question still remaining is why. Why did the young man take a couple of antique guns with him, added some explosives to them and went into his school to kill? The easy answer, the one he's given himself over the internet before he went out that fateful day, is "because I was treated like shit by the others, because I was beaten and humiliated". It's always the same answer, every time a young man runs amok and kills others, no matter whether it's in Germany, in the United States or elsewhere.

But almost unnoticed from the public in Germany - because they're not really interested in it -, another long-lasting, oppressing situation has reached a new dimension somewhere else in the world. In Japan pupils who want to commit suicide (Japanese students are in fact more likely to commit suicide than any others in the world) have started writing letters to the ministry, describing their reasons. Most of them were indeed mobbed. There we do have the connection to the case in Germany, but people don't see it. Japanese students, who stand next to no chance of acquiring a gun, kill themselves when they feel the humiliation and the pressure of their parents (success from first day in kindergarten is considered necessary in Japan, because it's the only way to end up in an important university and thus get a good job) gets too much for them.

Mobbing is not just something done in Japan, as another thread in the MangasZene-forum I participated lively in shows. A lot of those writing posts there were mobbed in school, but we (yes, I've been mobbed in school as well, but was lucky as it stopped after a few years) survived and came out relatively unscarred - though we all carry the scars on our soul and will go on carrying them for the rest of our lives. Mobbing is an everyday occurrence in schools and at work places everywhere.

It seems to get more and more with the pressure on students and workers rising. Students have to be better these days as they had to in the past. Work is getting scarce and those who want to work one day or have gotten a job are under pressure to be better than all the rest. Those who think they cannot keep up try to gain a better position by bullying those better, but less inclined to fight. This whole 'survival of the most aggressive' starts at school where those with more strength or more influence in class take out their aggressions on those weaker and/or less influential. It continues at work, where those with more influence - even if they have less abilities - bully those with more abilities and less influence.

Unfortunately society seems to have forgotten that the behaviour of its members - and we're all members of society - can be controlled. If we, that is all members of our society, make it clear from the very beginning, that all forms of mobbing, physical and mental, are not at all tolerated, we can make life more worthwhile for all of us. Bosses at work will realize that there will be less sick days, because there will not be mobbed people who get sick due to the treatment of the mobbers. Students will be more able to concentrate on school without having to fear troubles because they get good grades.

It's not easy work we will have to do, it will be hard to teach children from early age that bullying someone just because he's weaker is not okay. And we'll have to stick together on this. Teaching children empathy will be the most important part, because somebody who can imagine what another person is feeling will be less inclined to hurt this other person. Acting immediately at school or at work when mobbing occurs will be another important part, because it will make absolutely clear that the mobber(s) are those who will have to suffer the consequences (up to the point where they and not the victim will have to leave). Of course there will be no 100 percent success, this can't happen with anything. Just as there are still murderers around, there will always be people bullying others. But just as every murderer will have to pay a high price for his crimes (and no, I don't mean the Death Penalty, I'm absolutely set against that), so will the mobber.

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