After reading story after story of children who are pushed into a fatal decision by bullies – I cannot seem to get a major question out of my mind: What is the motivation for adults (or any other bystanders of any age) to cover for the acts of bullies? More specifically, I’m pondering the role of school staff here in America and any adults involved in the reporting process of a bullying event. Many parents have been left feeling helpless after hearing their child’s abuse is not an issue. Dismissive phrases like “I wasn’t aware of this and haven’t seen anything to prove its happening” or “kids will be kids” can be devastating to both parent and child. Worst yet are the red flagged comments that suggest bullying is just a fact of life: “Your child needs to learn to have a thicker skin.”
I guess “adults will be adults” and mistakenly consider bullying to be a social milestone all children have to deal with. Is it possible that they see this more than just a thing that happens – they see this as something this is SUPPOSED to happen?
We no longer live in a caste system. Americans may try to separate themselves with money or walls or violence. But at the end of the day, we are all equal people; including our young people. Our country may have a diverse mix of cultures with milestone expectations center around different ages. Yet consider how basic milestones in life tend to match another human’s life you may have absolutely nothing in common with. Major milestones like learning to walk, learning to speak, entering school to learn, graduating, marriage, etc. etc. The curious and sometimes judgmental eyes of our fellow citizens measure our lives not only by our age number, but by what we have accomplished up to that point in time. Milestone events shape your humanity and role as a member of society. Accomplishments and growth are measured in milestones.
At what point in this journey of life would abuse from a bully help us grow or accomplish anything? The very goal of bullying is to stop someone from behaving or achieving something in the manner they wish. Milestones are about development – bullying is about destruction. Bullying is not a milestone, it’s a stop sign.
“Kids will be kids” does not address the very real and frightening abuse victims of bullying face in modern times. Threats on their lives, constant negative attacks on their personality or looks. Stalking, because a bully’s playground doesn’t end at the recess yard anymore. I have a strong suspicion that a lot of adults judge children’s issues by the standards of their own childhood. Well intentioned to try and remember that perspective. But a majority of American adults would agree that no child deserves to live in fear or under the threat of violence.
If “kids will be kids” then for their sake let us adults to be real adults by: 1) acknowledge a problem (& also solution!) exists and 2) work to steer bullies towards being civil adults NOW.
Again: BULLYING IS NOT A MILESTONE, IT’S A STOP SIGN.