Last night I attended the Book and Buffet book discussion of Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult (I review it in Books Worth Reading Blog) with the PENNCREST school district. This was a part of their anti-bullying program and I was invited as a member of the faith community. It was great to meet people from the district and to know that they are working to deal with the problem of bullying in our school district.
I wonder how many of us are dealing with reality when it comes to the problem of bullying in our schools, athletic programs, and even our churches. This was brought home to me last week one day when I got a call that there was a fight going on down the street and when I drove up there were two young men in a fight and about 40 or 50 kids standing around watching including several that were videotaping the fight. I would like to think that we grow out of that kind of behavior but I am not so sure.
Bullying was not something we heard much about when I was a kid. Sure, there was the big kid that picked on the little kid from time to time but it had to be really obvious for anyone to even notice. Today our kids are learning that threatening remarks like "I am going to kill you" or "I am going to beat you up" are no longer acceptable. Things that we learned you just had to put up with if you were like me and small and weak such as being shoved in a locker or picked on by bigger boys was just part of growing up. Today we recognize that those actions do not have to be part of growing up.
I remember one of the older boys that I rode the bus with would give me a hard time and I would give it right back to him. More than once he punched me in the stomach and hurt me but I would have never thought of telling anyone. There was an older girl on the bus that used to give him a hard time about it but nobody ever said anything to anyone in authority.
Bullying can happen to girls too but it may be far more subtle and harder to see. Many times it is related to relationship issues and isolating someone, teasing or making fun of them.
For this to change in our local schools there will have to be change in some of our homes as well. How often do we treat children that do not meet our expectations or dreams with less respect than the ones that do. How often are we aggravated because our children are not living out our dreams for them.
I will be doing a lot of reflecting over the subject of bullying and hope you will too.