I work with this amazing group of teens. Truly amazing. They are intelligent, well-mannered, fun loving...and they have decided that I am their go-to non-parental adult. I get to share in their excitement of their first kisses and first heartaches. When they have a fight with a parent, I am the person they come to seeking comfort and knowledge that their parents will forgive them. And when their energy is high and they are in full teen mode, I get a glimpse of remembrance of what it was like to be at that age.
This group of kids has decided that they want to write a play on bullying. I can see you shaking your head, everyone is jumping on the bully bandwagon, enough already you are saying. Every tv show you turn on is showing those NC girls fighting it out. Every talk show is talking about cyber-bullying and what to do about it, surely it can't be that bad. But not only is it that bad, it is so much worse.
The stories my kids have been sharing with me scare me. They talk of guns being taken away at school from students who are tormented every day for being different; fights involving large gang members pummeling smaller, weaker students, fights that are occurring in front of teachers who themselves are too scared to stop them. Packs of girls that roam the halls looking for victims just because they have decided a certain girl didn't have the right look. They are afraid everyday that today is going to be the day that someone snaps and does the unthinkable. Only it's not unthinkable.
As we were talking yesterday I asked them what they do to stand up to the bullys. Almost all of them answered, "Ignore it," or "Nothing," because that's what the adults in their lives have told them to do, to which I responded, "Do you know you are being trained to accept bullying when you do that? The bullying now is so much worse than when I was your age, what's going to happen to your kids?" They all fell silent. I asked them if anyone had ever gone to a teacher or guidance counselor to report a bully. One girl laughed and said yes, she had, and the teacher gave her a pamphlet on bullying. She received a piece of paper in place of help. And her response was, "What am I supposed to do, use it as a shield?" What is she supposed to do with it?
Everyone is talking about bullying right now, but is anybody taking the time to stop and listen? Stop and ask your child what he or she sees going on in school right now...and after you ask, don't say a word...just listen.
If we don't protect our children, who will?