Just when you hoped that awareness in and of itself might finally be permeating and eradicating the core of the plight that is bullying, the next headline hits and another innocent life light has been snuffed out far too soon. The empathy that goes out to the parents of these bullied children and young adults is an involuntary knee jerk reaction for anyone with a heartbeat. Unfortunately, empathy won’t bring back the dead. Each and every case that is brought to our attention seems to have one thing in common; the abuse was not hidden from view. To the contrary, there were other children, adults, teachers, authority figures that were all aware that these poor souls were being tortured. Not at the hands of some foreign faceless enemy on a war field. Not in some area that one could dismiss as being in the wrong place at the wrong time. No. These kids were being abused where they should feel safe and secure, on school grounds and in the sanctity of their own homes.
It is wholly and completely unfathomable what the surviving families have to endure in the aftermath of these suicides. The unimaginable horror of losing a child ever, let alone by their own hand, especially when caused by the onslaught of abuse perpetrated by these miscreants is reprehensible.
Discussing the issue is shining a light on the atrocity that it is, but if that is where our efforts stop, then we have done the fallen an utmost disservice. So what can we do? The most immediate remedy must start in our homes and communities. Education, discipline and simply keeping our eyes open to what is going on around us are excellent beginnings. Do not overlook signs of oppression, abuse, taunting and the like. Standing up against this kind of misconduct as we witness it speaks volumes to the victims and lets them know they are not alone; they are not defenseless nor are they without supporters.
Our school systems nationwide need to adopt a more proactive and highly recognizable stance on bullying putting a zero tolerance program into effect. Peer group counseling programs have the capability to go a long way both in thwarting the bullying with empathy training and education, and by building the self-esteem of our youth in such a way that they realize their true value lies within themselves and cannot be destroyed by the words of another. They need to be taught to communicate directly with authority figures that can help them so they know in no uncertain terms that they have the power and tools necessary to put an end to the abuse.
On the political level, state and federal agencies need to take a firm stand on this offense immediately by putting laws into place that will serve to punish the perpetrators of all ages. The only way to stop these crimes against the innocent is to show that bullying will no longer be tolerated. The time has come to make it brutally clear to all. Those individuals choosing to purposely antagonize another being will suffer the consequences of their actions. Depending on the severity of the bullying, punishment should range from a minimum of assigned community service hours to the maximum of being incarcerated. Not only does it send a strong message to any other would-be bullies, but also gives a viable excuse to those that might otherwise have been easily persuaded into becoming an accomplice to bullying.
Start today. If you do nothing else, be more cognizant of the actions of the youth you are subjected to at any given moment. On the streets, in malls, everywhere…if you are witness to a potential act of bullying and pretend to be powerless; if we as adults choose to sit back complacently, pretending that there is nothing that we can do, then we have failed our youth and failed ourselves, and that is unacceptable. If you feel it is none of your business, simply look into the face of the abused, and replace it with the face of your son, daughter, niece or nephew. Whose business is it now?
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Tina With soulful eyes that see nothing but the good in so many She works harder than most men, but never expects a penny Empathy that surpasses any wishes for herself Pictures of her loved ones…oh, and...