Stop The Hate
There are a lot of terrible things I hear on the news, but when I hear about school shootings like the Columbine shooting, the Sandy Hook elementary shooting, Virginia Tech shooting, or more recently the Umpqua Community College shooting in Oregon, a flurry of questions run through my head like:
- Why did this happen?
- How could we have let this happen?
- Was there any motive?
- What could have possibly caused this?
- How can we work to prevent this from happening again?
More often than not, terrible events like school shootings are either a form or a product of bullying.
Bullying is a purposeful attempt to control another person through verbal, physical, or any other type of mental abuse.
I hope none of my readers have been a victim of bullying and I also hope none of my readers have bullied anyone else, because we should all know that we are loved and should feel secure, protected, accepted, and confident in anything we do. Nobody else, especially any bully, should ever make us feel otherwise.
Unfortunately, bullying is part of our reality and it’s hard to escape whether we are at school, on a sports team, at work, or even with friends and family.
I’m writing this today to tell you that bullying is not ok in any way shape or form. We should all unite to stop bullying. We should all feel inspired to be ambassadors of peace and tolerance. And we should all lead by example in order to prevent bullying in the future.
How do we do that? Stay educated on what’s happening. Let’s take a look at some facts…
Bullying occurs in many places, to many people… it can happen in schools, which would seem the most common place for bullying given the following statistics from a 2010 study by the National Education Association:
- 160,000 or about 15% of children miss school every day out of fear of being bullied
- 71% of students report bullying as an ongoing problem
- 1 out of every 10 students drop out or switches their school due to repeated bullying
- 1 in 7 students through k-12 is either a bully or has been a victim of bullying
- The highest instances of bullying come in 4th-8th grade, in which 90% were reported as victims of some kind of bullying
- 282,000 students are reportedly attacked in high schools throughout the nation each month
As children grow, they must learn to socialize with their peers and understand who their leaders are. It may seem to some that their children are innocent, so no harm could possibly be done by them, but this is often not the case. Remember the old saying, “monkey see, monkey do”? Bullying occurs in many other places we should be aware of. It can happen in workplaces, homes, playgrounds, the military, nursing homes, and other places both we and our loved ones live and work in everyday.
Bullying has no age boundaries. It can occur between a number of groups – adults to children, children to adults, adults to other adults, kids to other kids.
Bullying can occur for many different reasons. Here’s why some people are bullied:
- Cultural differences – especially those cultures obsessed with winning, power, and violence
- Institutional – home, school, workplace having poor standard for how people treat each other
- Social issues – acting out gets more attention than courtesy and civility, leading to jealousy or envy
- Family issues – children growing up in homes that are not truly loving and accepting
- Personal history of the bully – those experiencing social rejection may pass on the feeling to others
- Having power – with great power comes great responsibility, and power is misused and abused more often than not
- Victims of bullying responding with aggressive, condescending, annoying, or other negative types of behavior
While actively participating as ambassadors for peace and tolerance, here’s what we should look out for:
- Physical – hitting, kicking, pinching, punching, scratching, spitting or any other form of physical attack. Damage to or taking someone else’s belongings may also constitute as physical bullying.
- Verbal– name calling, insulting, making racist, sexist or homophobic jokes, remarks or teasing, using sexually suggestive or abusive language, offensive remarks
- Indirect– spreading nasty stories about someone, exclusion from social groups, being made the subject of malicious rumours, sending abusive mail, and email and text messages (cyber bullying).
- Cyber-Bullying – any type of bullying that is carried out by electronic medium. There are 7 types including:
- Text message bullying
- Picture/video clip bullying via mobile phone cameras
- Phone call bullying via mobile phones
- E-mail bullying
- Chat-room bullying
- Bullying through instant messaging (IM)
- Bullying via websites
To note, many victims of bullying feel the need to retaliate and become bullies themselves. It’s important to treat everyone with the love and respect they deserve. We must learn to project ourselves out into the world as we would hope to receive it.
As we all know, this behavior can become extreme and lead to horrific events like school shootings. In fact, 61% of students believe school shootings are due to the shooter being a victim of bullying in the past, either at home or at school. A horrible statistic is that 1 out of every 20 students has seen a student with a gun at school. If a student feels compelled to bring a gun to school to feel safe, to feel cool, to feel intimidating… imagine what life must be like outside of school for that student?
I hear a lot of people from older generations talking about how soft we are as a society these days; about how much harder they had it when they were young. And sure, maybe our youth will benefit from a bit of tough love now and then, but aren’t we, as adults – as their leaders and heroes, supposed to draw a fine line between proper social discipline and bullying? For those who want to establish themselves as the alpha in the group, just know that your anger and aggression is sending everyone else around you into fight or flight mode. Chances are, those who initially fight will eventually be drawn away from you, while those who flee because they can’t or don’t want to fight, may take that same anger, multiply it, and project it out to others. This sure as hell is neither an ideal solution nor a sustainable model.
I think the answer is simple, but the task is large. Everyone reading this and everyone in this world needs to embody a greater sense of love. This isn’t any new revelation either… “love your neighbor as yourself” and “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Unfortunately, I find that those who love to quote the good book are the worst offenders of its teachings in their daily lives.
If you spot anyone being bullied, don’t turn your head and walk away, speak up and stop it! If you see it in the workplace, contact your manager or HR department. Encourage bullies and victims of bullying to seek counseling. We are all on this planet together, we all deserve safety, belongingness and love, and we can achieve it by saying no to bullying. Let’s work together to stop the hate!