Warning! This is a sort of personal, very downer topic, and I’m leery to even post it, but it has just been something that’s been weighing on my mind, so feel free to skip, and I’ll be back with happier, fluffier topics next post!
I’ve been thinking a lot about bullying lately. It seems like you can’t get away from stories about school shootings blamed on bullying, suicides after bullying, young lives ruined because of bullying.
When I was in late elementary school, I was often a passive-aggressive target. While I was never hit or pushed, or ever had derogatory things written about me on bathroom walls (to my knowledge), I wasn’t immune to mean comments about my looks, my clothes, etc.
In middle school it intensified. I did have a small circle of friends, but still, I dreaded going to school every day. Every single day. I was able to escape it at night, because there was no such thing as social media where cowards could lash out with lies and hatred under the cloak of anonymity.
Once I got into high school, and became a cheerleader, and obtained some degree of status, there were still a few people who were nasty toward me, but luckily, I had enough status to have a buffer… protection, if you will.
I know I got off easily. I know other kids in my school had it a lot worse. I know kids say and do mean things to each other, especially girls. I know what I experienced probably doesn’t even qualify as bullying in today’s world.
And that’s what terrifies me. I have a 19 month old daughter, and I am already scared about what school holds for her. Now, in this age of cyber bullying and increasingly aggressive adolescent behaviors, the homeschooling I have always disagreed with (for the most part – a whole different topic) I suddenly understand. I want to keep her home and protect her from the horrors of the world, the horrors of this new generation of children.
But wait, you say. What about all of the Anti-Bullying campaigns? They sound great, but like so many other things, it is sometimes surface noise. There are many articles and studies suggesting that not only do these campaigns not work, but in some cases, intensify the bullying.
Standing in line at a grocery store checkout one day, I happened to actually read some of the headlines that I usually just glaze over.
How do we expect our children to treat each other with kindness when every magazine on the rack is pointing out celebrity cellulite, or completely making up “breaking stories” about who is pregnant and who is cheating and who is anorexic and who is fat.
You are bombarded every day with adult bullying that is so commonplace in today’s society, that we barely even notice it.
How many times have you seen a photo of Kim Kardashian with an arrow pointing to her cellulite…
…or been told that Jennifer Aniston is pregnant (that poor woman has been pregnant since 2001!).
Nicole Richie was too fat, then too thin.
Britney Spears’ nervous breakdown played out online and in every magazine for months as entertainment.
Taylor Swift’s name is dragged through the mud with every date… real or fictitious!
Then there is this:
A person’s weight or looks is often the first thing said about them, instead of their accomplishments.
I know I’m mostly talking about celebrities, and people argue that they lose their right to be human when they chose that career path (something I really disagree with), but this is teaching our kids how to treat other humans. This teaches them to point out something arbitrary they don’t like about someone, or to pick at them for perceived flaws.
Adults write these headlines, these stories. Adults set the tone for how our children treat others.
Maybe this only makes sense in my own head – something that has been known to happen… Maybe I’m just over-reacting because I’m a new mom, scared for her daughter’s future.
Still, I really feel that until we learn to play nice, how are our children supposed to?