Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Discussion Board Response about Bullying

This week in my online course of Abnormal Psychology the professor posted a question about bullying and suicides… Who is to blame, where do responsibilities lie and should bullies be held accountable when their victim or target commits suicide.

This is obviously right up my alley, and I could have easily taken information directly from what we've written on ABC in the different blog posts, article shares, tabs on our wall etc. but I wanted this to be original.

I've read it through a couple times since I posted this last night and I think I sound angry... I'm not trying to come across that way, I am very passionate about this and I hope you see my passion vs. my anger for the amount of bullying in our society worldwide. It's okay to be angry and frustrated with the status quo, that's how change happens, but anger doesn't solve problems. It's the actions we take daily that make a difference.

So here is my post and I've included the links to the 2 articles I reference in the bottom portion….

So I am incredibly passionate about this topic of bullying and actually the recent bullycides of children like Tyler Clementi, Phoebe Prince and Asher Brown is what lead me to create ABC: Anti-Bullying Coalition, Inc. a local advocacy group in NWI that advocates for families that are facing bullying and need help having their voices heard in the school system. We have talked to parents locally and across the world that have the same learned helplessness from a lack of response from the schools when it comes to bullying. However, it's not just the school's fault. Schools certainly can be better at doing their part to ensure successful resolution to bullying as well as successfully implementing pro-active anti-bullying programs, but this bullying is not just a school problem.

Bullying has snuck into every crevice of our society and has somehow become a tolerated social norm. Every time a person says "Kids will be kids" my skin crawls. That is tolerance of inexcusable behavior. Bullying is not just in schools but in workplaces, in communities across the world. Not just here but in every country on every level. It's complex and comes in many different forms. Physical, emotional, cyber... it's so pervasive, it's hard for kids to escape. They don't talk about it as they may be embarrassed or scared, or it can be so overwhelming it makes their throat tight and stomach ill every time they think about it. And there is such a lack of faith in the school system in successful resolution I truly believe that so many kids are so scared to say anything because they think it'll just make it worse. And so kids will bury it inside and end up feeling there is no other escape… and it honestly breaks my heart.

Since I founded ABC, I have connected with many like-minded pages and people on Facebook (our main page is on FB, we are working on getting a website live soon). And I have talked to parents who have lost a child to bullying and their strength is awe-inspiring to me. I never want a child to feel that suicide is the only way they can escape the awful-ness that is bullying. I fear my child being bullied to that extent (even though I talk to them every day about it… really) and I also fear that someone else will be bullying a child so badly that they will bring a gun to school and my child would be taken from me.

I wrote all the above before reading the articles and so the below is my response to the articles.

As for the article on facts & statistics… I share these on ABC frequently and honestly I feel that some of them are low. The main one I feel is low is the 160,000 children that miss school daily due to fear of bullying…. I bet it's more. I don't have proof it's more of course, but I believe there is a lot of hidden realities when it comes to bullying. I'd like to see more elementary school specific statistics. We focus a lot on elementary school and our first advocacy case was with a mom whose 5 year old in kindergarten was bullied to the point that she now has a school phobia and was suffering from an eating disorder. She was oinked at in the lunch room, pushed and held down on the playground and when she cried for help was the one put on the "wall," blocked from going to the bathroom and peed her pants. At 5. Makes me cry every time I think about it, but we all worked together and achieved a successful resolution.

As for the second article regarding Phoebe Price, well honestly it pissed me off. I have not previously seen this article though I have seen and shared other short-sighted articles with the blame being put on the victim. Bullying is a form of abuse…. But in many states it is not an official crime like sexual violence, domestic violence and child abuse. What those kids did to Phoebe was implorable and should not be defendable…. And they got a slap on the wrist with probation. After probation one of the girls was interviewed on the Today show and instead of showing remorse, she placed the blame on Phoebe by saying she had no idea that Phoebe had "so many problems." Totally ticks me off!

I could go on and on, and well I'm on page 2 of Word typing this response so if you made it this far, Thanks…. This is something that is so very easily change-able… with the implementation of pro-active bullying programs, in school and after-school programs focused on compassion and empathy, the teaching of kindness and acceptance in our society and an absolute zero tolerance for bullying.

Stand up, speak out, make a difference in someone's life!!!

1st Article link (about Bullying statistics): http://www.makebeatsnotbeatdowns.org/facts_new.html

2nd Article link (about Phoebe Prince): http://www.politicsdaily.com/2010/04/20/phoebe-prince-victim-of-bullycide-or-of-a-deeper-problem/

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