If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse, and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.
― Desmond Tutu
Bullying has literally been around longer than we have. Our ancestral primates were very good at it. This point is made to illustrate just how pervasive the phenomenon and also how difficult it will be to curtail.
Bullying isn’t “kids being kids” it’s a disparity of force. This can be physical or social, used to intimidate and harm. Tragically this can have horrific consequences. Suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death for young adults and victims of bullying are FAR more likely to hurt themselves.
Cyber bullying can be just as damaging as physical violence. These days, nearly everyone has a cell phone and awkward pictures can be easily posted to social media or rumors can spread quickly. The city of Denver is trying something called “restorative justice” whereby the bully is basically asked to say “I’m sorry” and express contrition. What exactly is restored isn’t yet clear.
Often, the targets of bullying are those who are different. According to statistics released by the Human Rights Campaign, LGBT kids are favorite targets of bullies. 92% of LGBT students say they hear negative messages about LGBT in their schools, their peers and the Internet. Those students are twice as likely to say they have been physically assaulted, kicked or shoved at school.
There is no dispute to the existence of bullying in our society today nor is there disagreement that it can be tragic in its consequences. The increase in gun violence in our schools is a disturbing trend. Are you aware that in 75% of these cases, bullying was the match that ignited this regrettable conflagration? Being the victim of bullying is not an excuse for violent retaliation but more the last resort action of a desperate and damaged child.
Isn’t it time that we celebrate diversity and not just permit, but also encourage our children to be themselves? To be able to do so without fear of physical violence or social harassment would allow each of our children to spread their wings and soar to new heights!
Albert Einstein is credited with a quote referring to the Holocaust that said: “The World Is A Dangerous Place To Live; Not Because Of The People Who Are Evil, But Of The People Who Don’t Do Anything About It.”
Please, don’t be one of those people.