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Archive for April, 2010

Bullying

So here’s something people probably don’t blog about frequently: Bullying.  And here’s why it’s important that we should be blogging/talking about it.  It’s ridiculous and the effects are now even resulting in death.  Yes, I’m aware the deaths I’m speaking of have only happened in the past few months and within the last year, but the idea here is, they happened, and people need to pay attention and do something about it.

The idea of taking responsibility for your own actions is a phrase that seems to be a teaching tool in American life, but not in American behavior.  We as a society have grown to the point that we are happy to be fiscally responsible, but really little else.  When it comes to being concerned about how our children treat other children in school, we have forgotten our manners.  I grew up in a little town in northeastern Massachusetts, and I can tell you that though we were briefly educated about bullying, it was never something that was regularly enforced.  I suffered from bully attacks from kindergarten up through high school, and I didn’t always talk about it.  The first time was a boy grabbing a hold of my pinky finger in my morning kindergarten class and his consistent attacks on how I dressed, to a girl leaving a note about the color of my jeans in middle school.  (They were bright blue, 3 dollars a pair and about all my mom could afford) to one of the last taking place in high school almost all four years, was in my German class, where two boys taunted me before, after and during class all because I struggled with my German grammar.  Our teacher would make us say anything we wanted to say out loud in German and properly if we were to do so, but my grammar was horrible, and often I would sit there struggling just to get a few sentences out.

And because the boys in class had had enough of my learning troubles, they would laugh, joke and ask what was wrong with me and why couldn’t I get it?  And did anyone aside from the teacher say their comments were inappropriate? Absolutely not.  Not even my close friend who sat next to me.  They would even tease him about how he carried all the books he ever required for all of his classes with him in a rolling book bag.  I occasionally tried to defend my friend if he hadn’t made it to class yet if I heard them teasing him, explained that he didn’t have the opportunity to get to his locker in the four minutes that passed between classes.  But it was frivolous to do so, and every day was the same.  In these instances, however, I’d like to point out that even though the other people in the class might not have been guilty of bullying, they certainly supported it. Not one person stood up for me, (or my friend) and I remember loving learning German, despite my difficulties, but being terrified to go to class.

As a result of my experiences, I always invited people to sit with me at the lunch tables, or I’d sit with them if they were alone.  I hated seeing someone alone, especially if they didn’t want to be alone, and if people laughed at them.  I knew exactly how that felt and remembered the feelings I had experienced because elementary school had been a time full of bullying and teasing and being the last people picked for teams in gym class.  I hated that feeling.  Even if I wanted to be better at sports, no one ever gave me the chance because they never wanted me to be on their team.  I loved school, but I hated a lot of the people I went to school with.  And the lasting effects of bullying are still present, despite the fact that I’ve grown stronger.  I am not as confident as I should be for someone of my age and accomplishments; I am not at a healthy weight or in shape because I find solace in food and not friendships.  Finding peace has never been easy, and about all I know is that I will continue to help people if I see them bullied or teased and will offer to sit with them if they are alone, or enjoy a chat if they are needing a friend.

Watching Chronicle on channel 5 tonight made me recognize/remember the importance of educating people about and making them aware of bullying, I hope that this post and the info on the chronicle website rings a chord in you.  If it doesn’t, you might want to look at the patterns of how people bully as adults and how the behavior progressed from school yards and classrooms to the workplace.   It not only affects children in schools, but it affects the growth and health of people of all ages.  (I’ve even witnessed children bully their parents, and though that is a slightly different case, it’s still bullying to get whatever the satisfaction is that they get from doing so)

Schools also have to be more diligent in taking responsibility for children who do bully and make sure they don’t do it again, and if they do, make them realize serious consequences will result if they decide they will continue to bully.  They should be held accountable.  And parents too, they should do counseling with their child if the behavior continues.  These sorts of actions are the only way to continue to improve the situations in schools.  And if you think it doesn’t happen, remember this:

My freshman year of high school, we were talking about teasing and cliques and this girl in my class insisted that there weren’t any cliques, she didn’t understand how people could feel left out.  I told her, just because you don’t see it, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.  And if you are in a clique, you aren’t likely to see it either.  Who wants to believe that when they are having so much fun that there are others out there that are suffering and being physically or emotionally beaten to a pulp?  When you live in your own little world, it’s difficult to see the suffering that exists outside of your happiness.  It’s time to open up and see more colors, more problems, more troubles than your own.  Be responsible for the world around you, because you are a part of it.  And your actions affect more than just yourself.

So instead of being only fiscally aware in our troubling times, perhaps we should also look at our emotional well being, how bullying affected or didn’t affect us, in addition to the well being of our children and their peers (and what bullying is doing to them.)  Sometimes when you are being bullied, or you have been bullied in the past, it’s not easy to keep those emotions up front and tell people about them.  The idea of revealing our emotions can be overwhelming and terrifying, but doing so to the right people can bring us hope.  It’s time to start being a friend, instead of being the bully.  No one wants to be the kid who has to go the guidance counselor because you “don’t know how to make friends.”  (At least that’s what they called it when I was in elementary school.)  We should be making sure we are being friends to everyone else.  Bullying has to come to an end, especially if it’s leading kids to commit suicide.  For more information please visit:

WCVB’s Chronicle:

http://www.thebostonchannel.com/chronicle/23025159/detail.html

Feel free to comment on my blog or on chronicle’s site!

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