Several weeks ago a reader suggested I do an article on bullying. I had spent many years in Scouts and the YMCA Indian Guide program and did not recall anything that resembled bullying to me. Maybe I was lucky. Maybe I was naïve. Maybe I did not know what to look for. I did write two articles and links to those articles are below. With school starting around the country, I thought I would see if things had improved. To no one’s surprise, they have not.
Bullying on the school yard is still a factor like it was in my day. But there is now a second version of bullying and it is, perhaps, more dangerous than the first. That is cyber-bullying. The unique issue with cyber-bullying is that there is no relaxing, no downtime. Cyber-bullying is 24/7. KRLD in Dallas did a four part series called “Beyond Sticks and Stones, Today’s Classroom Bully. A link to the site is below.
During his research for the series, Scott Braddock follows the story of Montana Lance. He is a 9 year old from North Texas. Bullies told other kids not to play with Montana and talked about beating up Montana. Between the school yard and the Internet, there appeared to be no escape. Like two other Texas boys did in the last year, Montana escaped the bullying by taking his own life.
Bonnie Petrie searches for who becomes a bully. Many people think that bullies come from an environment where aggressive and violent behavior is tolerated. They try to create a familiar environment and look to be the one in charge. There is a line of thinking that bullies do not see the outcome of their actions. They see the action as a single issue and do not understand the cumulative effect. They are often surprised that the subject of their bullying commits suicide.
How do we protect our children? Keep the lines of communication open with your children- and listen to what they say. One mother had a fifth grader who had been doing well and she made regular visits to his teachers. Everything seemed normal. One day on the way to school she was talking casually with her son. He asked her,” Mom, would you rather me go to school, or be alive?” That got her attention. She got totally immersed in her son’s school- she stopped assuming everything was OK. Together they got through the situation.
In Scouts we spend a lot of time on watching for sexual predators who try to take advantage of our children. We need to be equally careful in watching for bullying. There is always teasing in Scout units. Teasing is a two-way exchange and is focused on many individuals. Bullying is one-way, concentrated and relentless. We need to be able to tell one from the other.