Just when I think there will be nothing for me to write about, something like this pops up on my radar and I realize it is going to be one of those days where, in fact, I have so much to say I will have to edit.
Bullying is discussed so openly now that it is a wonder these things can still happen. My own daughter is still only seven years old; but I am curious… at what age do parents stop looking at the emails and facebook posts of their children? At what age do parents stop seeing behavior that is cruel or snarky and say, “well, they are a teenager after all”? What is the psychology of our humanity that we fall back on bullying as a way to make ourselves feel better?
These questions haunt me… and not just today because of this local news. They have haunted me ever since my daughter was born. More than drugs or sex or grades… my worry is that she will either be bullied or become a bully. Almost every moral lesson I teach has an element of this in it; at least in my head.
Last year a fantastic author, Trudy Ludwig, came to our school to talk about bullying. She spoke with the kids during the day and then the parents at night, and I was so grateful that I took the time to attend this amazing session. One of my biggest take-aways was how wrong parents are when they tell their kids to simply ignore the bully and they will go away. She said this is absolutely untrue. (For more on Ms. Ludwig and her books see the link below.)
Few of us escape the trying years of childhood without at least a few emotional bruises from being bullied. I am guessing a little of it helps to form our character; to give us compassion and understanding that in a world where celebrity status is worshipped, not everyone is going to like us…and that is okay; we can deal with it ultimately. The truly sad thing is that we have all been there when it crosses that line. We have stood by and watched, or, possibly
even participated; relieved that it is not directed at us.
Do we need to legislate this? Can we even? Certainly no one should have to go through any of their life questioning its immense value. If you are pro-life…. You have to be pro every single life!!! Even the ones that are different than your own. This debate is happening all around us, in states like Michigan which just passed a bill in Dec. 2011 after much debate over language and first amendment rights. (see the Bully Police Link below.)
I look back on my life and I thank God that I had the strength to make it through the middle-school and high school years. I am sad for my involvement in hurting others, and sad for my own attachment to the hurt that others caused me. But I am also proud that I made choices to care for myself, even when it felt as if others weren’t.
Today my heart goes out to the family of this young girl and the loss to our world of what her presence could have contributed had she lived. I once heard a story about a teenage boy who was so lost in his own thoughts that
the kids he carpooled with would sometimes drop him off far from his home, and he wouldn’t notice till they had driven off. A clear case of bullying… but thankfully Bill Gates survived it. Let’s all work to make sure every child
around us does!
Some resources for those who are interested: