- Posted October 19, 2012 by
Kansas City, Missouri
Death By Bullying, A Solvable Problem
If we’re being honest, it is unlikely that we will be able to reign in on bullies anytime soon. Our kids will inevitably encounter bullies, most likely at school. Yes, we need to be better at recognizing bullying and providing help when we see it, but more importantly, we need to train our kids in how to recognize and respond to bullies themselves. They need to know what to do in the moment, and how to get help to halt the harassment going forward.
Adults have the luxury, usually, to be able to walk away from bullies. Kids, on the other hand, are often confined to a situation such that to seek an escape would earn them a reprimand. Because it is we who enforce this quaze confinement, usually until the age of 18, it is our responsibility to also ensure their freedom from bullying. This may seem obvious, but we must recognize that many adults are not on-board with this idea, and that, therefore, the rest of us need to compensate for their lack. This idea must be taken with serious consideration as communities and organizations establish anti-bullying measures.
If you’re a parent, defense against bullying starts in your home, with you. If you’re experiencing your own problems, maybe addiction to drugs or alcohol, maybe depression or poverty or maybe health issues, then you need to get help. Help for yourself, and extra help for your child. There are many organizations out there that provide help at no cost, whether it be a church or a community program, you need to get help, your kids need you to get help.
Unfortunately, many homes are not providing kids with the strength or capacity to stand up against bullies. In most cases, parents have the right to teach and shape their children according to their beliefs or traditions. This is a sacred parental right, and the rest of us should respect that authority when it is clear that it is being taken seriously. When it is clear that this role is being fulfilled (and in most cases it will be clear), then leaders, teachers, and mentors should only consider themselves as fulfilling a secondary role to parents. We should respect the beliefs and teachings of responsible parents, more so in younger kids, and less so as kids grow up to become their own self. Meaning that we should not be teaching ideas that are unique to ourselves, such as an alternative religious identity, or any politically motivated endorsement of a controversial or disputed issue. However, in homes that are clearly not exercising their sacred right to shape the life of their child, leaders, teachers, and mentors should be reaching out and interacting with those kids on a very much more personal level, which may include sharing more personal beliefs. I don’t know if it would be possible to reach out and embrace a child to that degree without sharing one’s ideas or beliefs in some degree. Where parents fail, the rest of us must be able to fill in. Parents, as well as other adults within the organization, should be made aware of these instances of mentor/child relationships. One-on-one (mentor/child) communication should always be in the presence of others, this policy needs to be policed and kept in check by all adults. Where one-on-one talk time is requested or otherwise needed, there should always me another adult in an adjacent room who is aware of the interview.
If you are a parent, and your child is being bullied, I am not blaming you. Although you are primarily responsible for your child’s well being, we all understand that life, nor the circumstances therein, are perfect. We want to be of help to you. Please reach out if you need help.
Death by bullying, is a solvable problem! We cannot allow these suicides to continue! Our kids are too precious, they are too innocent, they have way too much life left to have it be destroyed by bullying. Not all adults are going to care sufficiently enough about this issue as to become more vigilant in their duties. To those of us who do care that deeply for the life of a child, we must be willing to increase the distance of our watch in order to make up for the failure of others to be vigilant. There will always be adults who don’t care quite as much as we do. We can do all we can to convert them, but some will never be converted. Therefore, broaden the circle of your watch.
So how do we solve this?
1. Encourage parents to fulfil their sacred duty to be their child’s mentor. Parents should be a child’s first line of defense against bullying.
2. As leaders, teachers, and mentors, we should become more aware of children who may need a little extra help. Teachers, leaders, and mentors are a child’s second defence against bullying. It is also your responsibility to ensure that bullying does not take place under your watch. Anti-bullying training programs should be required for all adult leadership.
3. Know the signs of bullying, and when bullying is seen, or suspected, take immediate action to provide a solution, which will include an immediate end to being bullied for the victim, and possibly some counseling for the bully.
4. Provide a support program for kids who are bullied.
5. Provide a rehab-like program for kids who are bullies. Recognize that bullies are also at risk, and that they too need our support.
As a kid I was probably the shyest boy in the school. I was prone to being bullied because I didn’t talk much, nor would I defend myself against verbal attacks. However, I came from a very strong home. Because I have older brothers, with whom I like to wrestle and play sports with, I was athletic for a child. Being athletic was my strength against bullies. I can only remember on one occasion having a class bully try to physically assault me. I was able to stand up for myself. I was never popular, but I was fortunate to have starting positions on football teams. This was my defense and source of confidence. Kids have different talents, as adults we should find ways to strengthen those talents and to assist them in using them to gain a greater respect from their peers.
I decided to become an active participant in this cause after reading of the death of Rachel Ehmke. Her picture was striking to me, so innocent, so young, so much potential. These stories bring me to tears, as they should bring all of us to tears.
As a web developer and entrepreneur, I decided that I could best help the cause by creating a small website and strategy to spread the word. My website is in its first phase of progression, and I hope to be able to turn it into something meaningful for the anti-bullying movement. The site is: www. bullied13.com. It’s primary purpose right now is to share the stories of victims, but I desire to expand it further into a resource for anybody who wants to spread the message.
This is a first draft, I’m sure there are aspects of this article that need refinement. Please send to me your comments and suggestions. Our kids need us, all of us, to stand against bullying!