Saturday, February 23, 2013

Stop being a Chicken on Pink-Shirt Day

‘Everything I needed to Know About Bullying,
I Learned from My Chickens’

(For Feb 27th Pink Shirt Day against bullying)

The new girl, 'Megan', short for 'Omegan'

We recently added a new hen to our flock of chickens and went through the trauma that erupts when the order of the flock is disrupted. The ‘old guard’ chickens gang up horribly on the new one, and for anyone who’s ever been bullied, it’s difficult to watch. I think the reason I have such difficulty seeing this is because it's so familiar and so human. Everyone would love to think that we and our children are not just a bunch of chickens, but watching this situation play out, it’s difficult not to remember those days in the playground or the cafeteria.

Does any of this sound familiar?

  • The chicken clique has very specific roles for its members, and all members feel it’s their responsibility to keep their order status quo.
  • The head hen is the one who eats first, decides when it’s time for everyone to run around, cluck, preen, and go to the girls bathroom so they can all re-do their lip-gloss.
  • The omega hen is the one who knows her place, doesn’t get in the way, and remains friendly and docile to her ‘betters’.
  • When a new girl tries to join the clique, she will be turned away, perhaps viciously. Her very newness is reason enough to consider her different, undesirable and a threat.
  • The new girl will avoid eating and drinking if the risk of running into the bullies is too high.
  • Even though there is bickering amongst the clique, they will present a unified force against the new girl.
  • The new girl will still desperately want to be part of the clique, regardless of how badly she is treated.
  • Ironically, the head chicken won’t be the biggest bully. The worst bully is the one who was on the bottom of the pecking order and wants to make sure the new girl takes on that role. The head chicken will pretend the new girl doesn’t really exist.
"Can I come down and play?"

Fortunately chickens can’t talk, so there’s no name calling, and fortunately chickens don’t log-on to Facebook. Maybe someday humans will behave better than a bird whose very name suggests cowardice and whose brain is no larger than half a walnut.

Meanwhile, the bullying got to be too much for me. We took the new girl out and sent her to a more accepting flock where she’s knows one of the other chickens. Hopefully they will be nicer in the playground there.

for more see:

Megan, far left, with new family

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