Sunday, February 6, 2011

The Prevalence of Bullying: Not Ok

“Nadin was beaten up, dragged through the streets, put in a tree and then hung from a fencepost by seven schoolmates, and no one came to his rescue,” described The View about a boy they had on the show Friday February the 4th to discuss his recent experience.

People actually walked by and saw this abuse and did nothing about it, until a woman finally stepped in to help him.

Chatari, a 12-year-old girl with cerebral palsy, had condoms thrown at her, along with being hit and pinched, and right in front of her bus driver day-after-day, and nothing was done to help her. Fortunately for her, her father, James Jones stepped in, and under no uncertain terms…

It’s not surprising when you see parents such as James get so fed up they take matters into their own hands, out of frustration (even at the cost of being charged).

We are a society educated about bullying, yet we walk by and do nothing while someone is being hurt… How is this ok? And in Chatari’s situation, continuously being abused right in front of a school bus driver…?

“It is the responsibility of the driver to maintain control over the students on his/her school bus at all times,” indicates the school bus transportation guidelines, in the registration kit I received upon enrolling my daughter in kindergarten recently.

Isn’t this a universal expectation—we entrust our children to the care of schools, and in return they have some kind of guidelines to ensure safety is in place? Yet bullying remains so prevalent…

I recently learned about my nephew being bullied in kindergarten, and not wanting to go to school. Upon volunteering in his class, his mother noticed the bullying occurring right in front of the teacher, who did nothing about it. So, she stepped in and let the kids know their behavior isn’t ok. And it’s not just unique to children.

Tyler Clementi, 18, was a university student when he committed suicide last fall, after learning that a roommate broadcast an encounter with another male online. What more does it take for us to step up and help?

Frankly, when I hear these kinds of stories, it makes me angry. It would take everything in me to hold back from wanting to do what James did (without the language and life threats), if it were my daughter. As much as anger doesn’t always solve problems, it’s hard to watch our children being hurt, let alone abused. And in this day-and-age it doesn’t even make sense.

We seem to be progressing at lightning speed in so many areas. Many minority groups and cultures are breaking moulds and boundaries all the time. Yet simultaneously, people are still suffering so much (there are thousands of stories we don’t hear about) at the hands of those that liken themselves as superior.

Like I said, it makes me angry, as I hope it does others—enough passion to propel us toward a society that has less tolerance for abuse, and greater compassion toward each other.

My hope is that we continue creating awareness and educating each other about these critical issues, which not only hurt our children and us in the moment, but also will continue to wreak havoc and plague us into the future if we do nothing.

Even in the midst of pain from the loss of their son, the Clementi family hopes for a better future. “‘Our hope is that our family’s personal tragedy will serve as a call for compassion, empathy and human dignity’” (CNN, October 4, 2010).

We have to stop assuming things are fine and that someone else is going to handle the unsettling situations we see, and start caring enough to try and do something about it.

The following are resources for bullying:

The World Health Organization, “Prevention of Bullying-related Morbidity and Mortality: A Call for Public Health Policies.”

Stop Bullying Now, What adults and kids can do to stop bullying., Bullying Information Center. Reducing the problem of bullying.

Human Rights Campaign, information for schools and youth.

Canadian Mental Health Assoc (CMHA), A list of links/resources for everything about helping kids – dealing with bullying, depression, suicide prevention, kids help phone, youth at risk, and much more.

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