Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Day 12: Bullying - When Will it End?

So the subject of bullying has come up in the news a lot lately. I’m not sure what has changed, or if it’s been sudden or gradual, but it sure seems sudden. And I don’t know if it has been due to one particular incident or just a general growing public awareness and increased social conscience. Every time I think about how public perception and the value people place on the well-being of other people has changed over the years, I can’t help thinking about two very prominent examples – one being the (by our standards) reprehensible joy people used to get when attending a public hanging or stoning, like it was a fun day out, an event to bring your kids and a picnic to. The other example is the placement of children, frighteningly young children, in the workhouses and factories of the Victorian era, letting them make their own way on the streets of the cities and face unimaginable horrors in the hazardous conditions of the workplace. What value was placed on human life and well-being then?  What a miserable place their world must have been.

But I digress. About bullying. Was this ever acceptable? Who said this was ever okay? Why is it just now changing legislation and being brought to such urgent attention? Perhaps it has to do with the growth of the computer age and the increase of cyber-bullying. Perhaps it has to do with the rash of suicides.  To be honest, I don’t care which has sparked the fire. I’m just glad it is reaching greater heights in the grand scheme of awareness and that hopefully something is seriously being done about it.

The story that came out recently that hit home the hardest, that stands out most in my mind and brings tears to my eyes every time I hear about it, is that of 12 year old Chatari Jones, a little girl with cerebral palsy who lives in Florida. After coming clean to her father about her fears of riding the school bus due to the bullying she suffered at the hands of several boys on the bus, her father boarded the vehicle and made his displeasure very well known. The incident was caught on camera as he shouted at the boys and at the bus driver for doing nothing to stop them. Her father was arrested, then released on bail.

I applaud him. And I applaud Chatari, who still has a difficult road ahead of her and who has not yet returned to school following the incident. I know what he did was wrong, but I really, really can’t help thinking this event may have really started something that will benefit SO many children, with and without disabilities. The statistics are staggering…25% of students report that they have been bullied. 85% of students with disabilities are reported bullied. Please visit BullyingInfo.org and see what is being done to effect change, and please watch this moving interview with Chatari and her family on the Today Show last week to hear their story.



When Samantha was born and we received her diagnosis, my first thought was, how will we protect her?  I still don't know the answer to that.  But until the social conscience of the people doing the bullying changes, until they can learn to value the feelings of others, much like the way our ancestors had to learn the value of human life and that stonings/hangings/children-in-workhouses are not fun things, bullying will continue.  Please think about what you can do to help make a difference, to make the public world around our children a safe, nurturing, loving and accepting place.

7 comments:

doozee said...

Amen. Thanks for writing this, Becca

Kacey Bode said...

That still scares the crap out of me. It was one of my fears both for Ella and for Hunter (him being teased about her) and it still is. So far so good, but she is still so young. It makes me sick to think that people pick on those with a handicap and well for anything. I too applaud that dad, I don't know what I would have done in that circumstance.

Cathy said...

I dread the day that I have to send Lily out into the "real world". I know that many people were probably appalled by what that father did, but Mark and I were cheering him on. I can't even imagine the emotions he must have been feeling.

Bullies suck!!!!!!!!!!

Jenny said...

I have to admit I am scared to death of the day I have to send Russell out the door to school. I am glad though that he has older siblings who will look out for him. I also applaud what this Dad did...He had already tried talking with the school and nothing changed...I know this sounds bad but sometimes I think bullys need someone to get right in their faces about what they are doing, whether they are kids or not! They need to know the person they are bullying has some one to stand up for them! We have zero tolerance here...One incident like that on the bus and you are banned for the year!
Great Post

Renee said...

The father didn't handle it the right way, but at least he tried to do something. He had tried to deal with through the school system first and unfortunately that didn't work. This story is heart breaking. My heart breaks for the girl and for her dad.

When I was in 10th grade, I was bullied on the bus. I told my parents and my dad called the principal at his home at 6:00 in the morning. My parents knew the principal because we went to the same church. The principal took care of the situation as soon as school started that day. I don't remember what exactly he said to the boy but he scared him enough that he left me alone after that. I was fortunate to have a father who would make the call and that we knew the principal.

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Melissa M said...

Ever since Columbine bullying has been a worry of mine. One thing I am thankful for is that C will go to a small school (with a graduating class of usually less than 30) and I'm hoping her classmates just see her as Claire and not as the 'disabled' kid.