Recently I’ve been receiving a number of communications giving me the opportunity to sign a petition and requesting me to share the same regarding the death of Amanda Todd. As yet, I’m deleting these…I am just too overcome by the immensity of the underlying issues that face humanity in this regard and this blog post is written as a way of venting some of that.
PETITION: Arrest Cyber Bullies Responsible for Amanda Todd’s Death
I am left profoundly affected by yet another story of an unnecessary loss of life. I am once again left with a sense of helplessness, as well, and I’m not signing the petition. I’ll explain why. As a teacher in a school, I saw bullying and fought to prevent and fight and abolish and appropriately manage and discipline it for thirty years. Even when a boy in the back of the class once raised his hand and said…”Ms. Moors, why do you keep trying to get rid of bullying? You stop one bully and we go out of your class and there are three more. The world is full of bullies! Stop wasting your time. Stop wasting our time.” Hmmm…
I know that I’ve been preoccupied for months about the issue of litter. This is a very small metaphor for bullying. Bullying is like litter. Few people want to take notice of it. And, as I’ve discovered, no one wants to take responsibility for it. “I don’t litter. I wonder who made this mess. It’s those dog-walkers. It’s the after school groups. It’s Wal-Mart. Darned flyers.”
If you ask an individual today, “Have you bullied someone?” For the most part, the reply would be…”I don’t bully. Never have. Someone else bullies.”
Have all of the hoodlums who destroyed parts of Vancouver because of the outcome of a single game of hockey…how long ago…have all of them been caught? brought to justice? Was there compensation for the people who suffered property damage because of that? Who do we petition? Who will deal with the bullies?
In Syria…the world has stood by as children, women and innocent citizens have been killed by the thousands. And what has come of it? Who do we petition? Who will deal with the bullies?
What of 14-year-old Malala Yousafzai, shot because she campaigned for the education of girls in Pakistan? Will young girls be given the right to education? Who do we petition? Who will deal with the bullies?
Were the LOST BOYS of the Sudan, bullied? They ran through the night…night after night. Who do we petition? Who will deal with the bullies?
Even today someone made comment of hearing a domestic conflict in their neighbourhood. How many women or men are dealing with psychological, emotional or physical abuse today without our knowing? Behind closed doors, do you demand? call names? swear? rant? hit? pound on walls? throw things? call down? laugh at or mock? Are your children watching? Are they listening? Are they hiding?
Children learn how to bully. They learn the lessons of bullying through the media, yes…but they also learn through fault of the adults that surround them. Who is responsible for stopping the bullying? Is it the schools? The church? Who can we make responsible for bullying so that we don’t have to take the job on ourselves?
I’ll tell you what…parents need to decide what is most important to them. Demonstrate through love and exemplars loving values. Show what you believe to be healthy. Stand up for an environment where confrontation occurs without causing one person to feel less valued, less special. Give children voices that will be heard.
The bully is pervasive…in the downtown towers of the city…on the streets…in every town, village, home and country. Who do we petition?
Amanda Todd puts a very personal face to a very challenging issue. It isn’t enough to petition that her cyber bullies be caught and brought to justice. Tonight there are many more just like her…and the same evil comments, names, threats and taunts are being delivered their way. Are we vigilant? Are we finding them? stopping them? giving our children tools to cope with them? What can we do? What should we do?
My new friend, Terry Storey, photographer and evidently, eloquent writer, has left me a very inspiring note. It reads…
You mention that children learn to bully. I am not so sure that is the case. Children are ego centric from day one; in that, they want, want, want, and are programmed to cry if their wants are not met. They, in essence, bully their parents with wailing to get what they want.
As they grow older and experience the world their list of wants grows in quantity and sophistication. It expands from food, warmth, and clean diapers to the toy that the other kid at kindergarten has, to the new bike or doll or baseball glove that the kid up the block has. Crying is no longer the appropriate means of fulfilling needs. Verbally asking for those things is one strategy. Just taking those things (bullying) is another strategy. It’s not so much learning as a natural progression of behavior.
And the bullying is rewarded in a number of ways. If the bully is bold enough, threatening enough, or physically strong enough he/she is rewarded by getting whatever they set out to get. That’s one form of reward.
But society is set up generally to reward bullies. It’s called capitalism. The stock market is a perfect example. Investors who are endowed with intelligence and good business sense make a profit buying and selling stock at somebody else’s expense.They get their reward in dollars and in prestige.
While bullying is not learned public school sports is a perfect training ground for it. In hockey, baseball, football, you name it, there are winners, bullies by virtue of superior athletic skill and aggression, and losers, victims by virtue of weakness or lack of coordination or stamina.
Society creates and enforces laws to try and make a level playing field for all types of endeavors. But the field is never level because people have differing abilities. The slow have to compete with the quick for the same prizes and the quick generally win. They bully their way to the top with their superior intelligence and skills. And they feel justified in doing so.
The death of the young woman in BC was a tragedy. The RCMP are investigating by examining her online activities in social websites and emails. If evidence of criminal harassment exists charges will be laid, too late unfortunately to save her life or to prevent the hell that led to her suicide.
The system definitely failed the young woman. It is my understanding that the young woman transferred schools several times to escape the bullying but it occurred wherever she went. What was her behavior like that it would attract bullying everywhere she went? Was she offered psychiatric help? Why were her pleas for help on video ignored?
I don’t have any answers to the questions you asked in your essay. I just have more of my own. I suggest to you, though, that in our society bullying is the norm. Compassion is the exception. Most of the victims muddle through, scarred for the effort. The more sensitive ones or maybe the more intelligent sometimes come to the conclusion that it is just not worth it and exit the stage.
In the final analysis I can change nothing but me. I struggle even with that. And perhaps the best any of us can do is strive for compassion in our dealings with others and settle for common civility.
It is a jungle out there. For many the struggle not to be a beast is overwhelming.
Hi from Slovenia.