I just found out after watching this clip of Jennifer Livingston, a CBS news anchor, that October is Bullying Prevention Awareness Month. If you watch the clip, you will see Jennifer defending herself against a verbally abusive email from someone who never watches her show but saw it for a moment. After those few seconds he felt he had the right to judge her. He goes on to tell her what a poor example she is setting for the community by being obese. She rises to the challenge in an elegant and admirable way, by showing people that if she is receiving this kind of treatment as an adult what is happening to the youth of our nation that are being bullied over Facebook, Twitter, Email, at school or even at home?
There are multiple talk shows such as Katie, which have presented high school students that have been victims of Bullying. Katie, presented one high school student who had been bullied by various peers because she is so tall. One day, she found out that he had been nominated to the homecoming court and was ecstatic. Later that week she received emails and Facebook messages telling her it was all a big joke and that she would never have been nominated for any other reason than a prank and it was heartbreaking for her, and her family. The bullied student, with the support of her mother, decided that she would go to the dance anyway, to stand up to these people, and she ended up having a great time. This girl is now her big sisters hero, and an inspiration to other students who have been treated the way she was.
It’s interesting to me because I have been so blessed with the friends I have made and my family. I have always had a strong support group and have no vivid memories of being bullied except in fifth grade when H**** C***** called me “Burnt Hotdog Lip” for three weeks because I had a cold sore that turned a gross color.. (sorry a little graphic) I know there was worse, but my friends and family diluted those memories because of the self confidence they gave me not to care or take it to heart. But what do these kids, who have it so much worse than I did, really go through? How do you handle that as a parent? How do you handle your child if they are the bully? Was I a bully?
Even now, we don’t always treat people with respect. But it was still so different for us as teens than for teens now. Rumors spread so much faster to SO many more people. Public humiliation is something that can happen with the press of “Post”. It’s easier to organize kids against one another and harder for parents to see it without imposing on their child’s “privacy”, if they should even be allowed such a thing. Since I am not a parent I don’t know, but I’m thinking of keeping them off the computer until they go to college. Obviously not seriously, but I wish that I could.
I think it is inspiring to see how many people in the community will rise up to support students once we find out about how they are being treated. But how do we stop it? Can we slow it down? It’s really about humanity in my opinion and teaching kids, and apparently adults as well that saying something hurtful, versus something uplifting is more detrimental than anything. Yes, I may be fat but saying, “Hey did you know you are a fat ass”, is not helpful. How about asking “Hey, are you free to go on a hike this weekend?”, make a friend instead of demean a peer.
We all live together and seem to struggle alone. Feeling the need to alienate someone because they have a feature about them that is not pleasing to us is so trivial. The clips on the internet and the support I have seen for those who have been bullied is truly inspiring. I hope from this point forward I will be able to be, “the change I want to see in the world”. If you are looking for way to donate or support the anti- bullying campaign, check out some info on the Stop Bullying: Speak Up page from Facebook (ironic right?)
Added note** I head on the radio last night (10/3/12) that kids are being asked to bring electronic devices (BYOD) to class to use them as tools to increase learning. They are also being taught how not to abuse social media. I thought this was awesome, but also thought that it could go very wrong in some cases… thoughts??