October is National Anti-Bullying Awareness Month
There are many forms of bullying present in the world today. Racism is a form of bullying. Many homophobic words are spoken everyday, many misogynistic remarks; any prejudice is a form of bullying. Stop and Frisk is bullying. As long as we are putting people down this is a bullying nation. Still it’s the personal stories that really get to me.
Earlier this year I read about Karen Klein the school bus monitor. Maybe you remember it? I for one could never imagine speaking to a sixty-something year old woman the way those middle school children spoke to her. Nor would I think it was my business to tell news anchor Jennifer Livingston that she is unsuitable for her job because of her weight. I would be beyond mortified to be connected to such negative statements.
There have been so many memorable cases of bullying and its horrifying consequences this past couple of years. People are going to great lengths to make others miserable. Take Megan Meier. A schoolmate’s mother created a false MySpace account and pretended to be a boy interested in this young girl. In what universe is this okay? This thirteen year old girl then took her own life because this fictitious boy decided one day that the world would be better off without her. Whose world? Surely not the world that her parents or her friends live in.
I want to return to Livingston’s story and praise her for sticking up for herself. If someone commented about my weight in such a cruel manner, I may go home and cry, or yell or complain. Yet none of these behaviors are going to make me any skinner or stop the bullying. Instead, Livingston decided to speak out to the children and parents listening. She made the wonderful point of how bullying is a learned behavior. Parents calling someone fat only teaches their kids that this behavior is okay. Parenting is something we can’t take lightly. And it is to your benefit to be the best parent you can be… for all you know your kids will soon be calling you fat. And then how will you feel?
It seems people are finally trying to stand up to bullying, which is perhaps a reason why all of these stories I have mentioned are getting so much attention. Much more still needs to be done. This is an epidemic. It is lethal. Further steps need to be taken against bullying. Self-confidence needs to be promoted. People need to build each other up instead of gruesomely tearing them down. People need to be more accountable for their words. People need to learn about empathy at an earlier age. But more than this, we need to speak up about it and demand a change. As Jennifer Livingston said, “the cruel words of one are nothing compared to the shouts of many.”