Suicide may be an act of cowardice, but people shouldn’t have to be brave all the time – especially kids. They shouldn’t have to endure cruelty at the hands of other people. Despite our differences, we all share something – humanity. We could choose to fight things like poverty, hunger, disease, pollution, climate change – TOGETHER. Or we could just wallow in our own miseries and play misery loves miserable company, and work on making life intolerable for others. I know which one I’d rather do. How about you?
And Yet, We Still Ask Why…
We still pretend that there are “no easy answers.” Maybe there is no panacea, no cure-all for the evils in the world, but there are things we can all do – right now, today – to end bullying.
Kids, live by the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Stand up for classmates who are being picked on – don’t join in the laughter and mockery in order to stay safely invisible and uninvolved. It’s scary and uncomfortable to stand apart from the “herd.” But you and your friends can create a “new herd” that is a safe place for all – one that is larger than the bullies’ herd – because we’re not sheep or cows, we’re human beings.
Parents, were you bullied as a kid? How did it make you feel? Did it turn you into a bully, yourself? If so, is that really what you want for your child, and other children? Consider the behavior you’re modeling for your kids: Do you show them, daily, that there is strength in compassion? Do you arm them each morning with courage in the certainty that they are loved? Do you teach them to stand up for the downtrodden, and that violence is only ever acceptable if they are physically attacked and in fear of their lives? Do you encourage them to be kind – even to the bullies at school?
Teachers, do you deal with the bullies or tell the victims to “toughen up”? Do you deal directly with the bullies’ parents, or are you afraid of them, too? You’ve got a horribly hard job, caught in the middle – but you cannot abdicate it, because the costs are just too high. If you’re afraid of the bullies and their parents, call the cops.
Here are some more practical tips for dealing with bullies from KidPower.org.
Here are additional facts about bullying and attitudes towards it from around the world:
Clearly, this is a global problem – not one unique to the U.S.. In fact, the U.S. doesn’t even top the charts.
I would urge anyone who has been videotaped in a “compromising situation” to consider this: Embarrassment and humiliation are painful but fleeting; society will forgive you your mistakes, provided you’re not hurting others. Being shunned and shamed by society as that horrible person who posted the videos online and tried to make life intolerable for another human being is – or certainly should be – worse.
Let’s all stop blaming the victims – even if we’re programmed by culture or upbringing to think they somehow “brought it on themselves.” If a woman walked down the street naked, she would be showing bad judgement – but if a man raped her because of it, he’d be committing an evil crime. Let’s keep it in perspective and remember that there are plenty of good men who would not see that as “she was asking for it.”
Is it really surprising to anyone that bullying leads to more bullying? Are people really that clueless when it comes to human psychology? A few sobering observations from this site include the following:
– 90% of 4th through 8th graders report being victims of bullying
– Among students, homicide perpetrators were more than twice as likely as homicide victims to have been bullied by peers.
– Bullying statistics say revenge is the strongest motivation for school shootings.
– 87% of students said shootings are motivated by a desire to “get back at those who have hurt them.”
– 86% of students said, “other kids picking on them, making fun of them or bullying them” causes teenagers to turn to lethal violence in the schools.
– 61% of students said students shoot others because they have been victims of physical abuse at home.
– 54% of students said witnessing physical abuse at home can lead to violence in school.
– According to bullying statistics, 1 out of every 10 students who drops out of school does so because of repeated bullying.
– Harassment and bullying have been linked to 75% of school-shooting incidents.
55 Interesting Facts about Bullying has a few eye-openers. Can you imagine: “…parents are allowing their young children to undergo plastic surgery to combat bullying. For example, [a] 1st grader…underwent surgery to get her ears pinned back to prevent her from being bullied.” Or how about this frightening statistic: “Over 30% of children who suffer a food allergy report having been bullied at school. While verbal abuse was the most common form of bullying, 40% reported having been physically threatened, such as having the allergen thrown or waved at them or being touched by the allergen. Food allergies affect an estimated three million children.”
We don’t need tougher kids. We need kinder, more compassionate, more quietly courageous kids and adults. Parents, teachers, and neighbors need to work diligently to make it easier, not harder, for kids and fellow adults to be these things. I believe that bullying is a defense mechanism against fear, abuse, hurt, and isolation. So let’s all try to make sure kids – all kids, including the nascent bullies – are armed with self confidence, a safe environment, love and kindness, and friendship.