parenting

Bullies & Their Victims

Bullying has been in the news quite a bit recently… it seems that more and more teens are taking their lives because of the hurtful words and actions of their peers. I was reading an article about Amanda Todd, another victim of bullying, and it got me thinking about the issue in general.

The big question seems to be “why?” Why are the kids bullying so much? Why are the victims feeling like they have no other option than to end their lives?

I’m going to sound incredibly heartless for a second here, but bear with me. When I initially hear about a girl taking her own life because other girls were calling her a “slut” or “whore”… I think, “Toughen up!” (Seriously, give me a second…) I can’t imagine ever having cared enough about what snotty girls in high school had to say about me. Some did call me a “slut” and hid behind their computer screens threatening to beat me up (mind you, I had never slept with anyone and never kissed anyone else’s boyfriend or even cheated on my boyfriend… girls are silly and throw that word around for lack of anything better to say)… and I basically chuckled at them and called them out on it. I didn’t get beat up. They continued calling me names to others, and I continued disregarding their opinion of me.

But then I think about it and I realize that we are all different. It is not anyone’s fault if they don’t have the same level of confidence or self-assuredness as others. So then I wonder… whose fault is it then?

Honestly, I think parents have more to do with it than a lot of people will admit. Society changes… the Internet is around & often used as a weapon against people… kids are shown images, videos, etc. of how they’re supposed to be, what’s “cool”, pressure is upon them to look a certain way and act a certain way… but parents are supposed to be there to guide their children. It isn’t society’s job to raise a child. It isn’t a school’s job to teach children kindness, compassion, as well as strength and confidence. It would be wonderful for schools and society to set good examples for kids and to supplement what parents are teaching… but the responsibility is still with the parents. In my opinion.

As far as these bullies go… where are the parents teaching them kindness? Where are the parents teaching them that they should treat people how they want to be treated? And that they are no better than anyone else… that spreading rumors and trying to make someone’s life miserable are not healthy or productive hobbies to have? That putting someone down will not, in fact, make you a better person or make you feel better. (Like in Mean Girls! … “Calling somebody else fat won’t make you any skinnier. Calling someone stupid doesn’t make you any smarter. And ruining Regina George’s life definitely didn’t make me any happier.”)

And for the victims of bullying… where are the parents teaching them to be strong in the face of adversity? To stand up for themselves… to see a bully’s hurtful words as the mask for their own insecurities… to not worry about what people who don’t even know them well think of them? Also, if I ever had been actually threatened and thought it was serious… or if I was bullied to the point of it affecting me negatively… I would have gone to my mother in an instant. I could confide in her… my parents were a safe haven. I trusted them, and I would have trusted them to handle the situation if it got out of hand, past the point of what a teenager can handle. So it seems like these victims didn’t think they could go to their parents… or any other trustworthy adult… which is so unfortunate and tragic.

I just feel like people sometimes forget that while they might be 16-19 years old and on their way into adulthood… these are still kids. It wasn’t THAT long ago (haha) that I was a teenager… and I freshly remember how dramatic everything seemed then. It was so hard to see past the next week… much less to see ten years into the future and realize that everything happening at that time would become incredibly insignificant. Maybe parents forget that by the time their kids are in high school?

Really, I could go on. About parents doing a better job of monitoring their kids’ Internet activities… about how much confidence can be pulled out of a kid before it’s just a matter of their personality… but I’ve gone on long enough already. 🙂

All I know is, if everyone in the world had parents like mine (and like some of my friends’ parents)… the world would be a much better place. It’s as simple as following the Golden Rule. I can’t stress that enough… if everyone just treated people the way they would like to be treated we’d be much better off as a whole. In a perfect world, right? I will keep trying to do my part, and that’s all I can do!