Let me distinguish teasing from bullying. Bullying is never OK, and it needs to stop. I would categorize it as persistent to relentless, threatening words or behavior +/- physical attacks.
We watched a video about children with hearing loss in class. I thought the movie really bent over backwards to ensure that none of the profiled were teased about their hearing aids. And I felt all of the parents were very preoccupied at the prospect of their child being teased. And I felt like that shouldn’t matter as much as they were saying it should.
It is human nature to categorize and notice difference. There is RESEARCH that shows people rated most attractive are the most healthy. Humans learn to classify and notice differences in order to ensure genetic survival. Also, in order to readily see cultural boundaries or find “friendly” tribes. You can’t just un-do millenia of evolution. You should watch this, because it is awesome and it is interesting–also it goes into the evolutionary categorization I’m talking about:
Also, let me just say that I don’t think getting rid of teasing all-together isn’t practical and it may even be detrimental.
Every kid is “other” somehow: Glasses, gay, height, weight, athletic ability, pointy nose, etc, etc. . . Teasing isn’t limited to just one difference or one child. And I think it’s a good teaching point. When a child is teased you can remind them it’s their differences that make the unique and special person they are. You can also teach them that their self-esteem shouldn’t be tied to what others think [IMPERATIVE POINT]. Kids need to learn not to care about what others think. Also, even if adults are able to shield kids from all teasing (impossible) they are going to hear it at some point. They ought to be given the tools to cope with the situation, otherwise they will crumble at an older age when they don’t have an advocate.