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Friday, October 1, 2010

Zero Tolerance

I stayed home today to ice my neck and try to get some much needed rest due to my thyroid raising havoc on this old body of mine. While I waited for my coffee to brew I read a few blogs and came across this post at Bernthis.com and also seen this video about bullying.  I cried.

Most of the time when I visit Jessica’s blog I laugh because she is hysterical but thankfully she took a break from being funny in order to share her personal story with her readers.

This is a topic that I am especially sensitive about. It is a topic that gets me worked up and brings me to tears.

Just ask any of the 7 people that call me Mom or Mommy and they will tell you that I have zero tolerance for bullying in any shape or form. I even go as far as saying that if you stand by and watch silently while someone else is being bullied then you are just as guilty as the bully.

My children know that if they were to bully or stood silently by and watched that they have my wrath to fear.

The main reason for my feelings is that I grew up with a brother that is mentally challenged because of having meningitis as a young child. So even though he may look “normal” he is challenged in the way of learning. Don’t get me wrong he is very smart in many ways, just not down on paper or in tests. He is 2 years older than me and my parents put him through school with me so that I could look out for him.

In the early years, he went to special education classes with other kids that had challenges. This was great but on the playground and lunchroom he was bullied, teased and called names.

Then in high school, they came up with this great idea of mainstreaming the special ed kids in with the regular kids. Do you have any idea of the pure hell this opened up for my brother and the kids like him? 

They took his money. They took his books away. They pushed him and hit him and  called him retard and other demeaning names. They ripped his clothes. They stole his jackets. If he had a snack they took it.  They took his food at lunch time. They tried to get him to fight. And sometimes he did. Of course he was the one that got into trouble. They taunted him until he swore. Of course he was the one that got into trouble.

This was the case for my brother and all the kids like him.

As hard as I tried to be there 24/7 for him…to protect him, I couldn’t. If he got hurt, had something stolen from him or got in trouble for defending himself, and I wasn’t there to help him, I felt guilty.

People that I thought were my friends stood by and watched him be bullied. They did nothing.

The thing is neither did the teachers or administration.

No matter how many fights I got in over defending him and these other innocent victims, the school turned a blind eye to it.

It wasn’t just the special ed kids getting bullied. It was the over weight, the kids that wore glasses or had braces, the kids that didn’t wear the best clothes or have nice things, the kids smaller in size, the shy kids, anyone that was different or anyone that the bullies seen fit to pick on.

All of them victims of bullies.

Bullies that got away with their nasty behavior. And schools who turned a blind eye because these bullies were jocks, did well academically or come from prominent families in their communities.

This was all over 30 years ago and sadly it hasn’t changed all that much.

Except now we have kids with cell phones and computers so we can add cyber bullying and texting to the bullies arsenal.

Sad.

When will we as a country wake the hell up to the crisis of bullying?

Putting signs up around the school saying “Zero tolerance for bullying” and teaching it to students is NOT enough. It has to be backed up. There has to be severe consequences for any type of bullying. The victims need to have their voices heard and believed. Parents of bullies need to be aware and do something about their child.

When will enough be enough?

I could tell you about my nephew who was attacked in his school gymnasium during the lunch hour. He was kicked until he was unconscious. These boys were charged with a crime but in the end all that happened to them was a little slap on the hands by the judge. The parents in a uproar because their precious boys who were the town jocks, did well in school and came from prominent families, were in trouble and wouldn’t get to play in their sports events. Insanity.

A bully is a bully even if he or she comes from an upstanding family or is the top player on the team or one of the smartest kids in the class.

I could tell you of other stories with equal insanity to them.

My daughter did a project in high school about anti bullying and I was blown away by the statistics of young people that commit suicide over being  bullied. She worked hard to educate the people of our community and yet much of it fell on deaf ears.

This brings me back to the start of my post and why I find it so important to drill this into my children. All children.

I have read numerous posts just this week about children being bullied and the affects it had on them.

We must break the silence.

Thankfully people like Ellen are speaking out and exposing this ugly crime.

Like Ellen say’s this is a crisis in our country. We need to stop this insanity. Bullies need to be stopped NOW. No one deserves to be teased, taunted or made fun of. No one deserves to be pushed around, punched or kicked. No one deserves to have their life made miserable by bullies.

Growing up and going to school is hard enough.

Lets break the silence people. It’s time to stop the bullies. It’s time to talk to our kids about not being the bully or silently standing by. It’s time to listen to the victims. Let’s hear their cries & stop these senseless acts of crime from happening.

The time is NOW!

That’s my rant for the day…I’m off to rest awhile and hoping to stop by your places later…see ya later alligators!

Until next time, love & hugs, Lori

25 comments:

The Incredible Woody said...

The child of a good friend of mine is currently in her 2nd year of dealing with a bully at school. My friend began this battle with the "just ignore them and they will stop" advice. They progressed to the child speaking with the teacher, her mom speaking with the teacher, her mom speaking with the principal, etc, etc. And absolutely nothing is being done. No child should have to put up with this!

Brian Miller said...

thanks for sharing this...i was a target growing up...i was a rather late bloomer...made it easy...

jpooh said...

EXCELLENT post, Lori. It is indeed a huge problem. Both of my boys were victims of bullying (my younger son still is, mostly in the form of teasing and harassment). It was so bad with my older son - it was not uncommon for him to find death threats taped to his locker - that he dropped out of high school. My younger son was jumped by a bully on the school bus a couple of years ago, and the bus driver actually punished MY son because he was "new" and must have done something to provoke the attack.

Is it any wonder I enrolled the kid in Karate shortly after? It helped, somewhat - the physical attacks stopped (who wants to try and beat up a kid who has a blue belt?) - but the taunting and name calling continue, although that has lessened somewhat in high school.

Jan

Together We Save said...

Excellent post!! You are so right it is a huge problem and people do tend to just look the other way.

Jacquelyn Stager said...

Lori, thanks for this. So sad that this subject even has to be talked about. I think every mom or dad, brother or sister probably has a memory they wish they didn't...when someone close to us is hurt like this, we hurt too.

Yesterday my 4 yr old granddaughter heard me calling for her (almost) 2 yr old brother. She stopped what she was doing, looked me straight in the eye, and said, "don't ever talk mean to my brother...don't ever talk loud to him" ... Now WHERE would she pick up something like that? Maybe she instinctively knows he is younger and weaker?? I thought, isn't it sad that at her young age she is aware that there is abuse or bullying out there. Maybe her parents have just been teaching her to be kind...I don't know.

Reading this sort of made me lose my feeling that "life is just wonderful being a grandma" momentarily, as I thought of my 4 (soon to be 6) grandchildren coming up in the world today...and all that is potentially out there that hard as we try, we might not be able to protect them from.

I love your spirit here, as always, Lori.

Natalie said...

So true and Hear, hear!

All of my children have been bullied at school for being different. By different, they are well mannered, intelligent and sensitive. We live in an area that is full of brutes, ignorant people and high crime rates. The children of these people go to school with my children and have caused SO much pain to my family, not to mention the thousands of dollars spent on psychologists bill for my eldest three children. I cannot tell you just how much it ripples outward.

Vicky said...

SO ture my dear sister!!!! This is something I look out for at my school. Parents need to set examples at home and with there own children when it comes to this. Children learn BULLYING from others. It is hard to stand up against others when it goes against popularity. I have seen bullying in the workplace too by coworkers when adults don't get their way or don't agree with something. We have an adminstrator that is a big bully when things don't go his way. I work with special needs population and this is foremost on my mind when my students are out in the mainstream. I don't see it a lot with my level but the ones that are not as severe and may have a learning disability can experience a lot of harassment from their peers and are made fun of in a variety of ways. I try to encourage students speak out and tell someone. My grandaughter just experienced some of this since school started since she made "c" squad volleyball and she is only an 8th grader. She stood up for herself and went to the school counselor. I hope more kids speak out and tell someone. It can't stop if it is ignored.

Busy Bee Suz said...

Great post. I am sorry about your brother and nephew being bullied. This is a serious problem and I am just shocked that it still continues. There must be something wrong with those who bully...they get some sort of joy out of it. SICK.
My brother was bullied all through school...until he quit.

Joanna Jenkins said...

Hi Lori, Bullies make me see red! Time and again I've seen school administrators turn their backs or justify their lack of consequences for bullying actions. It makes me crazy.

No one should have to put up with bullying. No one should feel unsafe at school. No one should raise their child to think bullying is even remotely acceptable.

Thanks for helping raise the awareness on this important issue.

Happy weekend. xo jj

Buckeroomama said...

That is one of the things I worry about when our kids go to school. We don't want our kids to be bullied, but we don't want them to be bullies either.

Thanks for sharing this.

bernthis said...

it's the parents. Kids don't come out of the womb mean, hateful and arrogant. It's their parents. Sorry but it's true and I'm sick of them acting as if all is ok. Sad thing is, this too will be forgotten and the bullying will continue on

LPC said...

Oh. Yes.

ladyfi said...

I was shocked and saddened to read about your nephew.

Bullying is a terrible thing - and there are always two victims: the person who suffers at the hands of bullies and the bullies themselves.

Here in Sweden my kids go to a school that has zero tolerance. Thank goodness. Although of course there is bullying here too.

Great post that highlights an area we must all work on!

Unknown Mami said...

You are absolutely right. It needs to stop and we all need to be aware and do something about it.

Shrinky said...

I am horrified at what your brother had to endure. As you know, my 17yr old son also looks perfectly normal to the outside world, but has a comprehention level of a 7yr old. In the early days, he AND HIS SIBLINGS were bullied because of his differences. Thankfully, we left the area, and with it the school, and found a more nurturing, caring environment for them. We were lucky, I am only too aware there are far more who are not. I can only endorse every word you've said. Thank you for articulating the horrors of bullying.

Nessa said...

Thanks for speaking out on this horrible situation. Bullies are weak people who should not be tolerated where ever we find them.

Thank-you for you kind comments on my post.

Hilary said...

I have also heard time and time again how school admins turn a blind eye or deaf ear to bullying. At best they use a few key words to placate, and then allow the behaviour to continue. And that just floors me.

When my kids were in elementary school, we had a great group of teachers and principals. I was the token parent on a Behaviour Committee where we put a system in place for bullying and other misdeeds. We had pamphlets for kids.. and for parents with clear expectations and warnings, and the school followed up accordingly. Bullying dropped considerably. Good for you for expressing your outrage. Too many people think very little of bullying, and shrug it off with "kids will be kids."

slommler said...

Oh my!! I hate bullying of any kind!! Up to and including abuse in any form. It makes me sick to my stomach and the school administrations and teachers are the biggest bullys of all! They know this goes on and who is the target!! Shame on them!! Shame!!
Shame on us for not crying out "Enough is enough"!!!!
Thanks for this post.
Hugs
SueAnn

MGM said...

I am with you on this! I was bullied as a kid and it did considerable and lasting damage to me. This is one reason I homeschool my kids. A couple weeks ago my daughter was being bullied at church of all places and I intervened and talked to all parents involved as well as the pastor. I am thankful they took this seriously as well and immediately went into action to do some additional teaching and training for the kids to be sure bullying does not happen and that the kids are trained and nurtured into grasping the morals and ethics and reasons why bullying is not okay.

TechnoBabe said...

Since I don't watch TV I didn't know about Ellen's talking about bullying on her show. Good for her. It is a horrible thing and so many kids suffer for years.

Loz said...

I remember being bullied at school by one kid until one day I chased him. It never happened again. But I was lucky most of those who are bullied can only retreat. Unfortunately I've also seen it in workplaces as well.

SciFi Dad said...

Well said, Lori. Bullying is something that should never be tolerated.

Colleen: said...

Oh wow, I've been away for a couple of days and didn't see this until now but let me tell you, it just makes me sick to my stomach to think about the poor children /teen-agers who are bullied and who live in agony and fear because of that. No one deserves that.

Life with Kaishon said...

This made me cry and cry. And cry. My shirt is wet from weeping. I am so sorry for this. I wish it was no longer in the world. Desperately.

And I LOVE that your daughter is a difference maker. She is beautiful.

And so are you. Very, very beautiful!

Bina said...

I was somewhat lucky. I was bullied to a small extent because I was so skinny, had wild curly hair, freakles, and was flat-chested. However, when I got in to highschool, the first person that made fun of me for being flat chested, I went home crying, told my older brothe (he was in 10th grade, VERY popular and looked out for me) and he slammed that boy against a locker the next day. The word got out REALLY fast, and other people who had said shit to me would come up and say, "Hey, I'm really sorry about ......".

I feel so bad for those who DON'T have someone like my brother on their side.