Bullying is everyone’s responsibility

I saw the picture in today’s paper regarding the issue of bullying in our schools. We have always had bullies in our society, yet in recent years it seems that it has become more cruel.

I was a teacher with the WCSD for 30 years and have seen what has happened in our schools from the time I began teaching in 1975 until I retired in 2010. Various programs that deal with bullying have been in our schools for many years now, so the district is most certainly not blind to this problem.

As a parent, I know our son was involved with bullying programs in our district from 1st grade on. Try as they might to try and eradicate this problem, our school district cannot do it alone.

This is not solely a problem in our schools…it is a problem that permeates in every aspect of our society. Think of what you watch on TV from news programs to reality TV… the disrespect for others’ opinions…how grown women behave in denigrating ways…laughing at videos of children and pets being hurt….the list goes on and on.

There seems to be a real thrill in our society for voyeurism…we want to see it all no matter how much it lowers our standards or values. What are your children reading? Even those children who are excellent readers, when they read a novel written for adults, they are getting a different message from it than adults are when they read it.

Music and video games…violence…the absence of family life. These things all play a part and interact with one another. They are things we can take control of. I used to tell my students to accept kindness and not to see it as weakness….it is so easy to be kind to one another…it is the right choice.

We have turned into a society that is very self centered…we want what we want when we want it. It’s ok to be mean to be competitive to get what you want. Whatever the price to pay to win…whatever the cost. We reap what we sow. Think about how you talk to your own children…how you interact with them. We all have our bad days when we feel grumpy, but our children should not have to pay the price for that, nor should our own bad behaviors serve as an example to them.

Remember too, they learn from adults and emulate what we do. What adjectives do you use to describe people in a negative way? Neither our own son nor my students were ever allowed to use the word retarded to describe someone’s actions. I explained that it was insulting to people who were actually challenged in this way and that this word should be used respectfully and honorably and not as an insult in any way.

My list of concerns is long, and I could go on and on, but my point in a nutshell is this…bullying is not just a problem for our schools to take on. They cannot do it all. We, as a community, need to rally and step up to the plate…we can make things better…one step at a time….together. Peter, Paul, and Mary sang a song called “Don’t Laugh at Me”…other artists have sung this as well. Try and listen to it sometime…I’m betting it will speak to your heart. There is also a wonderful selection by Robert Fulghum in his book called All I Ever Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten that is called “Mermaids” that I hope you will read someday. I recall reading it to some of my students one time, and they had tears in their eyes as I read it.

As a community, we all need to work to solve this problem. It is not solely for our teachers and schools to solve alone.