In a few days I will be speaking to 400 students at the junior high I attended in 6th-8th grade. In preparation I asked the teacher/student council advisor to answer a few questions. Her answers confirmed what I already knew; these kids lack respect for themselves and others and bullying has become a problem in my hometown as it has across the country. While bullying has ALWAYS existed, since the time Adam and Eve gave birth to Cain and Abel, it seems to be intensified by our obsession with technology.
Today I was doing research and found a pretty helpful and well written website on this very topic. http://www.bullyingstatistics.org/ It covers all types of bullying and has stats from years of research. The bottom line for me, however, is that the problem starts at home. As a parent of two myself, I would dare to say it is the most difficult, yet most rewarding job in the world. Our effectiveness as parents translates to every area of our child’s life…including how they treat their peers…face to face and through technology.
The biggest trend in bullying is through texting or online messaging (facebook). Kids (and adults) post ugly stuff, gossip, nasty pictures, all kinds of confrontational garbage just to make digs at someone they don’t like or want to cut down. Of course the worst thing is the impact all the meanness has on the victim…low self-esteem, depression, suicidal thoughts, and worse. But, I can’t help but want to scream…”if your child is being impacted negatively by online activity and texting gossip or sexting, TAKE IT AWAY!” Your 11 year old child will not die without a cell phone or access to facebook!” Children are not mentally or emotionally mature enough to handle what happens outside of your control. Protect them.
However, over half of all students are bullies themselves! If your child is the one posting the nasty pictures they take in a locker room, making digs at other kids and being mean, “TAKE THE PHONE AND THE COMPUTER AWAY.” Easy fix.
I’ll end by sharing a true story, changing the names and circumstances to protect the innocent…or in this case…not so innocent. A few weeks ago I was helping at a youth event and a teenager, I believe 8th or 9th grade, was jumping up and down on a pool table. I, being at least 15 years older than this youngster, walked in, saw what she was doing and asked her to get down. She stopped, looked at me and then casually said, “no, we do this all the time.” She then turned around and resumed her “play.” I was stunned. Had I EVER ignored, much less blatantly disobeyed an adult, I would have been in so much trouble! The truth is, it never crossed my mind I even had the option. Disregard for authority is a real problem. Never leads to a road of blissful happiness. I would guess a road of great struggle, difficulty and maybe even prison….really.
Take heart. Kindness can reign. People can be nice. Children can learn to listen and respect authority. IF we don’t give up and believe the lie that all is hopeless, all is not lost. God is in control. He knows and loves each of us. We just have to first learn to be obedient to Him and His authority and the rest will fall into place. I pray my children will see and learn how to be obedient and respectful to authority not just because I “make” them, but because they see the example in me.
Here is the link to the bullying website, again. Check it out.