When is enough enough? What will it take for people to open their eyes and see where our society is heading and what we are becoming? I ask these questions because all you seem to hear about today is this child died because of this adult or this child was kidnapped and sexually assaulted because of that adult. Or worse yet this group of kids beat on this kid to the point of death. And when these kids are bullied where do they turn to – who do they turn to when no one wants to believe.
Kids today have it harder than when I was a kid. Yes I was bullied but I had a support team around me that stepped in before chaos erupted. I had a mother, a single mother mind you, who made it her right to be involved in my life. When I was bullied at school or after school she spoke up. She would march in to my school and demand to speak to the principle. She would voice her concerns for me during school board meetings and PTAs. She would even call or visit the parents of the kid or kids that bullied me and when she couldn’t do it my older sister did. We had a rule between us, my sister and I, that no one could hit or make fun of us except each other and if anyone did we’d set them right. We lived by that rule and still do. But nine out of ten times the school wouldn’t do anything or couldn’t do anything about bullies so a new rule was applied to my sister and me, mostly toward me, from our mother. Never throw the first punch, wait until at least the third one. Then when I did get in a fight I could rightfully claim self defense.
Most of the time though I learned to defend myself. If someone hit me I was not going to lie down and take it. I was going to stand up and defend myself. I fought and I fought dirty all the way till my junior year of high school where everyone knew not to pick on me or make fun of me or fight me; I always won. But the difference between today and when I was a kid – mid 1980s to early 1990s – is I was bullied at school or on the buss and that is where it ended. I went home and it stayed in school. The teasing, the name calling, the bullying would all be there in the morning waiting for me along with all the kids who felt better about themselves by degrading me. I could get away from it. Find my sanctuary in my home or in the park or at my sitter Maggie’s house.
Now today these kids being bullied have no place to go. They have no sanctuary. They have to face the humiliation, the mental/physical/emotional abuse, the painful hatred for just being themselves everywhere they go. It follows them from the school yard to the home via facebook, twitter, MySpace, instant message etc. There is no escape for these kids. And it is not limited to just elementary or middle school but college as well. And this time – in this age – the bullied have the same faces: the weak, the ‘ugly’, the fat, the ‘weird’, the quite, the immigrant, and the new one: the gay. The same group that adult’s bullied when they were in school. The same groups that society and politics tell us to hate. The same groups throughout history. And it is out of control. No more is it one-on-one while the friends of both stood around and watched. No. It’s now many to one. No longer is it a few punches or hair pulling and the principle or teacher comes running in to separate the two. No. Now it’s knives, guns, and brutal head punches and kicks where no bus driver or teacher comes running to the aid of the bullied. No. Instead they sit and watch while the child cowards on the floor covering their face and pleading for mercy while 5, 6, 7 or more kids’ pound, kick, stab, or watch this child being beaten.
Then when the bullied go to the school authorities for help and report these bullies they are ignored or told it’s just kids being kids. When the bullied go to their parents, the parents do nothing because they feel it is the school’s responsibility. But when the school fails these children and parents do step in to handle it, they are then tossed in jail and charged with aggravated assault, trespassing, or child abuse. They are doing nothing more than defending their child from the pure anger and rage of their tormentors. They are doing what a parent – a real parent – does, protecting their child from the harms of the world. So why are these parents being punished for protecting and the parents of the bullies are not being held responsible for their child(ren)’s actions? A child is a product of their environment. If that environment happens to be a hostile one, then the child will transfer their anger they have to the one that is the cause of that hostility toward another who they think is just like them – a weak child thus the cycle of bullying perpetuates. And it does not matter if that environment produces a criminal or star athlete, upper or middle class, married or single parent homes, those that bully are themselves bullied. Until people take a real look at this and where the bullies come from and address those issues bullying will continue and so will the only retaliation to stop it.
When the bullies post what they want to do to the bullied on their Facebook pages they should be punished. When the bullies constantly harass the bullied and make up lies to alienate the bullied they should be punished. When the bullies make videos of the fight they just did they should be punished. When the group of kids who stand around and watch, encourage, and video tape the beating they too should be held accountable as well, for not doing anything to stop it is just as guilty as actually doing the beating. When the bullies lure a child to a house and beat him to death then dismember his body, put the pieces in paint cans, and bury those cans in a lye deposit (with the help of an adult) they should be held accountable and should be charged as adults not kids. A kid stops being a kid when they knowingly commit a crime that causes bodily harm and/or death and has no remorse in what they did. When you see the bullies cry we feel sorry for them. But ask yourself for whom are they crying for? Are they crying for the life they took or severely beat and the family they destroyed or are they crying for their life that is soon to be spent in jail? Are they showing remorse for the deceased or for themselves?
And when the authorities fail to recognize or punish the bullying and the parents refuse to interfere the bullied child feels there is no other way to stop the pain, the humiliation, the suffering then to kill it away. Kill the kids that cause it all or kill themselves so they do not have to endure it anymore. Either way the wish is the same – to stop the bullying. So we hear kids as young as 8 committing suicide or a kid going into a school and shooting other kids and we wonder why? What happened? And we call that kid a monster, a murderer, a loser. We blame the effect but not the cause. We wonder and get sicken when we hear the news and we mourn for the lives taken from the school shooting or the suicide. We reward the bullies with our mourning. We cry for them when they die. We blame the shooter. We blame the parents of the suicide. Never stopping once to answer the obvious question – how much pain was this child in to commit such an act? We never address the problem that drove them there in the first place. We only place a band aid on the wound and pretend it never happened. But it did and it will continue until the adults grow up and acknowledge reality and take responsibility for it. Children are killing themselves and other because the adults in their lives turned a blind eye and a deaf ear to the shouting signs of bullying. These children’s blood stains the hands of those who refuse to see. Will they face the reality of the situation or continue to wash it away pretending it doesn’t exist?