Nina and I listened to a sermon Sunday about bullying and hurtful words and I was motivated to write about it on my blog.
Recently Florida officials charged two girls, ages 12 and 14, with felonies for allegedly taunting and bullying another 12-year-old girl until she committed suicide. The arrests were made after one of the two girls posted on Facebook that she had bullied the victim, and didn't care that she had died.
The victim, who killed herself by jumping off a cement factory tower, was "terrorized" by as many as 15 girls who picked on her for months through online message boards and texts, according to authorities. One message said she should "drink bleach and die.'' The online harassment allegedly continued after she transferred to a different school.
The definition of bullying is unwanted, aggressive behavior among school aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time. Bullying includes actions such as making threats, spreading rumors, attacking someone physically or verbally, and excluding someone from a group on purpose.
After church Nina and I talked about bullying and both believe since the time we were growing up (60’s and 70’s) the internet and social media has made it easier to bully, and back then it seemed more common for your friends to speak up and support you. Ultimately, you could also choose to punch the bully in the nose!
Social media has made such a physical confrontation impossible, and the result of our insatiable need to assess blame in our litigious culture has created a paradigm of not getting involved as normal and appropriate behavior. Those individuals who do jump on the subway tracks or rush into harms way are rightfully proclaimed as heros, because sadly, their actions are the exception.
Over time, any organized entity, be it a church, a business, a social club, or even a country, takes on the personality of their leader. It is deplorable the example our national leaders exhibit when they publically belittle those of differing opinions and portray their diatribe as not only acceptable, but admirable. Such demeaning behavior is even more egregious on the “talk shows” of television and radio.
I was appalled to read about bullying in professional football and conclude that if formidable adult athletes are unable to prevent being subjected to such torment, it is no wonder that a child can rationalize an extreme solution such as suicide. And suicide is a tragedy because eventually the bullying will come to an end.
Which leads to the question of what can we do to stop bullying? The internet is filled with sites that provide resources and advice for the prevention of not only children, but teen, workplace and cyber bullying.
I have no simple answers other than to encourage us all to speak out when we see bullying perpetrated against those who feel so helpless and alone. Thank you!