Is bullying inevitable? Or can kids learn how to make room for difference?

There’s this NBC Chicago post on Facebook about a kid who was bullied for having a My Little Pony lunch bag, for which the school’s response was to ban his lunch bag. The comments are a predictable mix of great (‘this is victim-blaming nonsense’) and awful (why are the parents letting their boy take a girl’s lunch bag to school?). And yes, I know, you’re not supposed to read internet comments. But it was interesting to see how the responses fell into two camps, which reveal two different assumptions about the world:

Assumption 1: bullying is inevitable, so the best thing you can do is teach kids how to avoid being targets. The role of teachers and parents is to help victims survive in a bully’s world.

Assumption 2: kids are capable of learning how to be decent to one another, so the best thing you can do is teach kids to respect other people. The role of teachers and parents is to protect all kids by helping bullies become better people in a world where good community matters.

I sure as hell know what world I’d rather leave behind to my children.