…and programs that can save lives

Bob Hurley was only 36 years old when he passed away. I don’t know how he passed away; I haven’t seen him since 1987. However, when I learned of his passing, I cried. We weren’t friends, yet we weren’t enemies. We were both doing our best to make it through the school days without new emotional scars. Three of us were bullied during those grade school years: Bob, *Lynn, and me. Bob was the target of most of it. (*name changed)

Life eventually changed for Bob. I learned he married and fathered two daughters. I have no doubt, though, his emotional scars remained throughout the years. His life should have been happier; he should have been treated with respect.

Time Passes, Wounds Remain

Time passes, but the wounds of harsh words and actions remain. Perhaps the bullying makes us stronger, motivates us, gives us a mission, but it surely breaks us down first. Being broken is a dangerous place to be. Not everyone recovers; check out the suicide statistics.

Bullying is not the same as when you and I grew up. It’s horrendous in the age of technology; cyberbullying is rampant. The perpetrators hide behind screens where their courage thrives when not having to face their victims.

Victims are victimized again when people say, “It toughens them up,” “It’ll build character,” “They just need thicker skin,” but that is unacceptable. Acceptance and safety shouldn’t be withheld; victimization shouldn’t be downplayed.

My Own Son

As a mother, I worry about my own child being bullied. He became a victim of bullying in first grade, and it mainly occurred on the school bus in the mornings. Another child would punch him in the crotch. As my son tried to call out to the bus driver, the boy covered my son’s mouth and pushed him down behind the seat. Getting through that year was rough. Yes, action was taken, but not enough. Luckily, that antagonizer changed schools the following year.

Available Programs

One of the high schools I taught in took part in the Be the Change program. MTV had a series entitled If You Really Knew Me based upon this program. The event is deeply emotional and teaches tolerance and acceptance, helping us all realize we all have struggles others know nothing about. The most recent school in which I taught participated in the Rachel’s Challenge program, named for Rachel Joy Scott. Rachel was the first to be gunned down in the Columbine School Shooting in 1999 and was an amazing young lady. Her story is both compassionate and prophetic. Since the program, my school adopted the Character In Action program in order to implement a character education program.

Rachel Joy Scott

Yes, programs are being implemented in schools. Are they working? According to the Stop Bullying Now Foundation, schools that have anti-bullying programs in place have a 50% decrease in bullying. The number of anti-bullying organizations are abundant. Others include: Stomp Out Bullying, Upstand, The Trevor Project, It Gets Better Project, Love is Louder, Kind Campaign, and Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation.

What Can You Do?

If your child’s school does not have an anti-bullying program…advocate for one.

In addition, live mindfully. You are modeling how we want our youth to conduct themselves. Let us remind our children to be kind. Talk to them about appropriate use of social media and what to do when they see or hear of a situation where another is targeted. For guidance, please, visit these sites…
How to Talk About Bullying
Cyberbullying
Social Media and Sexting

Visit Alicia at LifeSoDaily.com

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