This week there was a school shooting that injured four people. The teen got into a fight and pulled out a 45 caliber handgun from his backpack. I won’t go into what’s wrong with Texas gun laws and how a teen was able to get a gun. I will say that his parents knew he was being bullied. What did they do? I don’t know but will say they did not get him help for his level of anger. Now his life is forever changed and he will spend time in jail, maybe 20 years. A young life wasted.
I was bullied from a young age, I had buck teeth. I was called bucky, beaver, rabbit, you name it, I got called it. Then it was because my granny made my clothes, I guess that made me a target for bullying. When I reached Junoir High School I had braces so I was called metal mouth, tin grin again all the names you can think of.
The worst bullying came when someone lied to my best childhood friend who had a cleft palate that I made fun of her about it. We grew up next door together since we were born. That didn’t matter. Her friends followed me home from school, pushed me to the ground, hit me over the head with a coke bottle, and kicked me many times. Then one day my friend said to meet me at her house, the house I grew up next to. She wanted to set the record straight. I went to her house, there were at least twenty kids waiting to see her kick my but. And she did. I walked home and that was the end of that story.
Bullying is not like it was when I was a kid. Now kids are bullied on social media by thousands of people who don’t even know them at a time when they are going thru so many emotional changes and identity crises.
Last year I made the mistake of leaving a comment on a celebrity’s social channel, what I said was completely taken out of context. I had over 20 thousand people wanting to strangle me, I received over a hundred death threats and worse. I was called every name in the book and it stung! I was not a bully but was made out to be one. Another lesson learned, never leave a message on social media!
National Bullying Prevention Month is a campaign in the United States founded in 2006 by PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center. The campaign is held during the month of October and unites communities nationwide to educate and raise awareness of bullying prevention. Traditionally held the first week in October, the event was expanded in 2010 to include activities, education, and awareness building for the entire month. National Bullying Prevention Month is recognized in communities across the United States, with hundreds of schools and organizations signing on as partners. Facebook, CNN and Yahoo! Kids have supported the month through media outreach and dissemination. PACER developed the initial campaign National Bullying Prevention and Awareness Week in response to the need to raise awareness of bullying, as it was historically viewed “a childhood rite of passage” and believed that bullying “made kids tougher”, when the reality is that bullying has devastating effects such as school avoidance, loss of self-esteem, increased anxiety, and depression.
For National Bullying Awareness Month I encourage everyone who has a child in school at any age to start talking about how to diffuse a bully and talk with you about being bullied. I know going to the school can aggravate the situation if it’s not handled right and that for you to hold the school accountable if they blow things off or handle them poorly. We can’t let out children get so angry and scared they get a gun and go to school and shoot someone or many people. Don’t think it won’t be your kid, the kid yesterday came from a very nice neighborhood and family.
If you have a tween or teen, you must monitor their social channels. I understand they need to level of responsibility but they have to earn it. Even if you give them the right to not have a shared password, you have to follow them and check out the people they are following. It is critical to find out what your child is up to.
Bullying is not a schoolyard thing anymore, children are being bullied 365 days a year, 24/7 on social media on top of school and other activities.
Bullying also has a tremendous impact on your child’s mental health. Look for clues here, look for signs of change.
Talk to your children.
Here are a few resources.
Please don’t take the approach my parents did and say never fight back, that doesn’t work anymore neither does carrying a gun to school.