Porterville Mayor Cameron Hamilton sparked major outrage during a city council meeting after he professed his dislike for the term bullying as a mantra for all the “ills of the world.”
“I’m against bullying, but I’m getting damn tired of it being used as a mantra for everything, and the ills of the world,” Hamilton, according to KFSN ABC 30, said, “when all most people just have to grow a pair, and stick up for them damn selves.”
Hamilton’s comment came after a city councilwoman asked the council to support a program, which would place off-campus safe zones for teens who were being bullied after school.
Hamilton’s comment provides a narrow-minded, simplistic view of an everyday occurrence of bullying in the world. There is not a one size fits all approach to dealing with this issue. Not all environments facilitate the conditions to stand up for yourself, and placing the blame on the victim for not doing so is ignorant.
When I was 9 years old, I was harassed by students because of the texture of my hair. It was dark, tightly curled, completely different from the vast majority of white students in my class. Some students agreed that I must be a sheep because my hair matched the texture of one on a girl’s farm.
I was excluded.
It was the first time I remember being told I was different. I remember being emotionally confused. I remember saying “I am not a sheep. I like my hair.” But the other students “kindly” convinced me otherwise. Yes, eventually I was able to stand up for myself, and again grow to like my hair. But, that took the process of understanding the world, and gaining more independent sense of self-esteem. This took years.
My situation did not match severity of other children/teens out there. I had loving parents. I had resources available to me. I was not in a physically abusive situation.
Sometimes standing up for yourself may mean getting kicked out of your house. Sometimes standing up for yourself may mean getting beaten to death. This seems like a tough decision to make for a young teenager.
Furthermore, Hamilton’s remarks provides a very conflicting message for teenagers out there. To simply stand up for yourself means to not only stand up to others, but yourself. You not only have to combat the voices attacking you, but the voices inside your head that wants to believe its true. This can put a psychological number on anyone.
To simply grow a pair is asking a lot from anyone, even Mayor Hamilton.