Individualism and Apathy

In the race to make ends meet and stay afloat in an increasingly hectic world, many people (including parents and caregivers in our school communities) turn inward, focused ever more on our individual families and lives. Consequently, some parents and caregivers may find it hard to extend themselves beyond caring about their own children. A sense of being overwhelmed may lead to feelings of apathy unless their own children are directly involved. Even if they are involved, parents and caregivers may have the expectation that it is the teacher’s or school’s role to deal with the problem.

Sometimes apathy can stem from a sense of powerlessness. For example, parents and caregivers whose children have not been directly affected by bullying may feel that they do not have relevant knowledge and information to share. Furthermore, most families have not been exposed to the vision at the core of effective prevention of bullying and inequity. Essentially what is needed is broad cultural change within the school, brought about through the active engagement of witnesses who choose to become what we call allies. Allies will try to use their personal power in many ways to stand up for the rights of others. They recognize that by not doing so, they relinquish power to the person who is engaging in bullying behaviour. (See Interrupting Bullying.)

Of course, attitudes of individualism and apathy which are endemic to our society are largely shaped by the material conditions that structure people’s lives (See Material Obstacles). Such attitudes may be at least partially offset by the kinds of measures and strategies proposed in this module.