Thursday, December 15, 2011


Disclaimer, this post is in no way meant to be insensitive or offensive in anyway, just questioning what is going on in this crazy world we live in. 
In recent years, the topic of bullying has become headline news.  Adorning our news feeds are pictures of beautiful innocent preteens who have committed suicide, robbing the world of a new person with limitless potential.  In a culture where our lives are dictated by well intentioned social media and light speed communication, infinite outlets have been created to tease, insult, and isolate our fellow human beings.   Being a new parent of a Yeti who will be thrown into this world probably sooner than I would like to think, this issue has been on my mind.  With regards to that, I am starting to question what ever happened to standing up for ourselves or each other.  Where are the parents of these children that are so depressed, that they feel their only option is the worst one?  Why aren’t these parents taking an active roll in their child’s mental health?
I am not a stranger to this bullying phenomenon.  I attended a school where the varsity teams were always going to state championships.  Our basketball team went 50-0, didn’t lose a game for two years straight.  We even turned out a major league baseball player in my career there.  I however was overweight, on highest honors every term, and only attempted to play a sport once.  When I joined the JV volleyball team (in the 7th grade), the girls all harassed me in the locker room for not shaving my legs at the ripe old age of 12.  However, in retrospect, I am an excessively hairy female and don’t do the world any favors when I let my fur grow.  I keep telling myself that when the ice age cometh, I will have the necessary hair to survive.  The end result?  I quit the team (which of course, then just made me a baby in the eyes of these vicious hyenas).  In science class one day, a male student wrapped a used band-aid in my long hair (okay, ewwww), I ran home crying (yes, I lived within walking distance, unfortunately).  I went to school there every day for two years kicking and screaming, praying that someone would show an act of kindness.  My mom visited the principal countless times.  My parents took an active roll in attempting to solve the issue.  (Side note: when asked during a parent teacher conference, this science teacher (who , I may add, is still teaching at this school) stated that ‘I (me) liked the attention’.  Yes, anyone would love to have disease infested medical waste stuck to her head.)  The school awarded varsity letters to students who made highest honors 4 semesters in a row, which I, of course, the ever proud dork, proudly displayed on my coat.  Yeah, that won’t draw any attention to a nerd.  In the opinion of a chubby middle schooler, life sucked. 
Things didn’t really improve in high school.  I had the opportunity to attend a private school as my mom worked there and tuition was free.  This meant that all the snobby rich kids that paid full price to go there made sure that I knew I was poor.  Talk about bullying?  We had two students pin down another one and carve ‘Homo’ in his back with a jack knife in a dorm one night my freshman year.   Another incident involved a group of students using half a soda can to slice up another student for getting low SAT scores and bringing shame upon the family.  Now THAT is bullying.  However, despite such events on others and getting picked on myself, I made it through.  Over the summer of my sophomore year, I lost a bunch of weight, came back to school a hottie, and vowed to become more socially active.  I graduated cum laude and eventually I found a social niche. I turned out to be a well adjusted college student and adult.  Why didn’t we hear about suicide among teens back then?  My parents did everything they could to stay involved in my mental well being and make sure that when I wasn’t in school, life was good.  They encouraged me to meet new people, distance myself from the idiots, and try new activities.  Also, I stood up for myself when other students were being jerks.  You got sumtin to say to me?  I didn’t think so.  I was always taught that you can only feel bad about yourself if you let people make you feel that way.  It’s true.  Teach your kids some confidence dammit!  (Note: I am not condoning violence as a means of retaliation or defense against verbal abuse.)  If social media is the issue?  Limit access.  If texting is the issue?  Don’t let your kid text.  So, my basic question is, how much of bullying is the school systems’ issues?  Or a legislative issue?  Where are parents these days?  I understand we live in a world where both parents have to work full time jobs to afford life, but that doesn’t relieve them of the responsibility of raising and protecting their children.  Maybe if more families had dinner together every night (as we did) to discuss what happened during our day rather than sitting in front of the idiot box, computer, or hand held electronics, there would be more open and active communication. 
I’m hoping that enough people read this to start an active discussion because I am curious what other parents (and hopefully some of my friends who are teachers) have to say.

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