Real Relationship Advice
Over a year ago, I wrote a post called ‘Anti-Social Media’. I wrote about the phenomenon of cyber bullying not as an aberrant behavior that is done by few but a new wave of on-line etiquette. Since then, after all the tragedies correlated with on and off line bullying, one would think it would be regulated, even policed; but, alas, no. How do you stop people from believing that they have the right to express their opinions about someone else? How do we as a society stand up to what has become a rite of passage among children, adolescents and adults?
I was bullied. My husband was bullied. My daughter was bullied. I remember the mean girls in high school taunting and ganging up on me so that the idea of retaliation was quickly quashed. I remember being so scared that I physically became ill and could not return to school the next day. I was lucky that the girls left me alone after that. It may have had something to do with the display of crazy I put on and a couple of girls holding me back. It may have had something to do with the fact that after that incident I simply did not interact the same way in school.
My husband was the picture perfect geek in high school. He had an unfortunate perm and enjoyed Star Trek and was part of the computer club (it must be noted here that our high school did not have a computer let alone enough to sustain a club so they borrowed one once a month from TRW). He was pushed into lockers, terrorized in the hallways as he walked to class and generally treated as a pariah. The bullying was so bad he contemplated bringing a weapon to school.
My daughter was a teeny thing. She is multiply handicapped and when the bullying took place, she was the only girl of color in a very white school. I was called in to the principal’s office to discuss her violent behavior. When I arrived the school administrators explained to me that she had thrown rocks at the other students. I refused to believe that my kid would spontaneously become violent so I asked them to bring her in. She explained to me that the entire class, with the teacher present, were calling her ‘brown’ in a chant. The teacher, referred to the name calling as ‘you know, it’s what kids do’ as if the cruelty and racism was completely normal. Let’s just say that day she learned what normal was and that she was a pitiful human being for allowing it to happen.
Bullying will stop when people see that even the ‘normal’ name calling a child does is wrong. No one has the right to tease, insult, intimidate, black-mail, gang up or physical hurt another person. The sooner we understand it is not ‘normal’ to bully, the sooner we will all feel safer.