I know many of you have Facebook pages and like me, you may have noticed the post circulating about a young lady named Amanda Todd. Amanda was the victim of bullying and killed herself. I'm so sorry for her family and friends. What a tragic loss of a beautiful young person. My own granddaughter has experience with this terrible trend. Her best friend killed herself two years ago and the pain and confusion is long lasting for those left behind.
What do you think causes this ever increasing problem of bullying? It seems to be rampant in our schools and on social media. And it isn't just kids who are subjected to it. Did you see the weather lady who got an email from a viewer who said she was too fat to be on TV? Or the Olympic athlete who was a target because she was too pretty? The bus aid who was called fat and stupid by kids on the bus? Every night the news brings another story of someone who has been victimized.
Experts come up with all kinds of causes. One school of thought is that social media provides a way for people to make unkind comments without fear of retribution. Others say its the lack of supervision at home as almost every family has both parents working, or in a one parent home where that one person must work. Some say that the rigors of school and peer pressure so stress kids that they are acting out. Or that all girls want to look like a movie star. Or that boys want to be just like action heroes who shoot opponents without any consequences. It's even thought that food plays a role in the attitudes of both kids and adults.
I think many of today's ills can be traced back to Dr. Spock. When he decreed that we should not spank our kids he opened the door to all kinds of problems. An entire generation of kids suddenly had the freedom to commit whatever offense they wanted with out fear of punishment. Time outs? Yeah right. I tried them. My kids used the time to plot their next caper. Or fell asleep.
That generation who did not face capitol punishment grew up and lightened the punishment even more. Schools began to employ full time counselors to give kids an outlet, someone to listen and evaluate the problems children were having. Parents were told to spend more time with them and to try to understand what was making them unhappy. Still no meaningful punishment was doled out.
The next generation became entitled to do whatever they wanted. I worked in the school system for thirty two years and was appalled at the number of people who called to say their child was being persecuted by a teacher or bus driver. An authority figure had spoken to their child, disrespected them, embarrassed them, and caused them to commit some petty crime in retribution. They had the full support of their parents!
Is it any wonder that kids think they can do whatever they want now?
I assure you that I have no patience with child abuse. But I do believe in discipline. My own kids will sometimes reminisce about their childhood and laugh at the things they did that got them a spanking. And maybe two weeks restriction. And no TV. Whatever punishment I thought fit the crime. I was thrilled when one of them called me one day to apologize for every infraction he had ever committed. His own son had stolen another child's toy and then lied about it. My son told me that he knew how much it must have hurt me to have to discipline him. I told him it might have hurt at the time, but I was so happy that it had the desired result. That little boy he had to discipline is now a police officer. Discipline is love.
But then, perhaps this is just a phase in time. Maybe the pendulum will swing back and old values will be restored. We can only hope that the people who are now trying to address this terrible trend will be successful. Meanwhile, we should hug our kids a little longer and be on the watch for signs that they may be dealing with bullies.