This morning I sadly learned again from my daughter that my grandchildren have once again become victims of bullying.
This fall they moved up in grade level to the next school building in their district. After their last school year, a painful year full of bullying, ostracizing by the popular cliches, and multiple unproductive meetings between their parents and teachers and school counselors, over the summer the hope had grown that moving into a new school would alleviate the problem.
Unfortunately, after only one month into this new school year and new building, all those summer hopes have been swiftly dashed.
As I write this my heart has been shattered into a million shards, and each piece is piercing me with sharp pain. I cannot resist questioning our whole society and how did we possibly get to where we are today.
How did it get to the point where sixth graders can post Instagram videos to the entire social media world campaigning for their "friends" to ostracize other classmates?
I compiled several dictionary definitions of the word "bullying," are here is just a partial list what it means to bully:
to persecute to intimidate habitual aggressive humiliating behavior
to oppress to strong-arm domination by ostracizing or ridicule
to tyrannize to dominate
to browbeat to compel
to harass to badger
to torment to coerce
Wikipedia defines "bullying" as the use of force, threat, or coercion, to abuse, intimidate, or aggressively dominate others.
Any way we look at this issue, it is ugly, and it causes damage.
Furthermore, all accounts report instances of bullying are on the rise, and in some locales, darn nearly out of control.
There are several things that most psychologists agree on relative to bullying:
1. There is hostile intent. (ex. A bully doesn't accidentally exclude a person from his own posse.)
2. There is an imbalance of power. (ex. The bully believes he has good reason to exert power over his victim. He believes his victim is annoying, and therefore should be ridiculed and excluded.)
3. Bullying reoccurs over time. (Short of some strong external intervention including serious consequence, bullies continue bullying.)
4. The victim of bullying clearly exhibits distress in some way. (We will easily see personality changes, social behaviors change, or physical trauma.)
5. The bully is convinced his aggressive or other behaviors are warranted and beneficial to himself.
I want to pick up a hammer and knock sense into somebody.
I want to say SHAME ON YOU!
Shame on you, to every leader, dictator, administrator, teacher, teacher who is also a parent, PARENTS, or student who in any way models this behavior, accepts it, or fails to punish it.
Have we learned nothing from decades of war, domination, racism, slavery, and history in general? What has happened to basic love and kindness, and to the priority of teaching our children the same?
Maybe I've got an overly simple opinion of this hellacious crisis, but I believe centuries of ignoring the words of God through his son Jesus Christ need to be reversed. Jesus said, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself." (Matthew 22:37-39)
Love your neighbor as yourself. Now there's a thought.
We need to heed these two wise commandments. Immediately.
Precious lives are at stake.