Saturday, October 13, 2007

Bullies Are Cowards

Normal everyday seemingly boring events often lead me to post what most would consider a boring rant. I just hope that no one reads my blog and recognizes themselves in one of these boring events. Considering that all of one or two people read this blog, I'll say my chances are pretty good that won't happen.

A few days ago I was jogging across the school parking lot I ran into an old acquaintance and his 10-year old son. I hadn't seen him in years so I decided to do a "stop and chat" as Larry David calls it, and catch up on his life. While we were talking his son starts laughing and pointing toward an unusually short man walking along the edge of the parking lot. My friend casually told the boy,

"Cut it out, we're trying to talk."

The boy continued to mock this man so my friend turns to me and jokingly says,

"He is really short, isn't he?"

As if the fact that this man was unusual in some way was justification for his son's behavior. Since it was obvious that this kid's father wasn't going to intervene and the man could probably hear and see what the boy was doing I leaned over and told the kid,

"You do know that the man you're laughing at is Sammy "the stub" Luciano, descendant of Lucky Luciano. He specializes in taking out people under 5' tall."

I was hoping this kid was less than 5' tall and would get the message to back off. He must've understood because he looked at me like I was psycho and quickly walked over to his father's side for protection from me or Sammy "the stub" Luciano, I don't know which.

Unfortunately, often times, danger must be present, real or imagined, as Sammy "the stub" Luciano was for that boy, for an issue to be taken seriously; the fact that the matter at hand is hurting others is not enough.

Now that school shootings seem to occur more often than ever before and children or teenagers who have been severely bullied are the shooters, schoolyard bullying is being taken a little more seriously but I'm afraid it's going to take a few more "Columbines" before teachers, parents, politicians and administrators make eliminating or decreasing bullying a priority.

The other end of the spectrum and far more common and much less reported on, are those victims of bullying that turn on themselves. We'll never know how many people end up committing suicide because they are being bullied and see no way out or the bullying they've experienced in the past has resulted in taking their own life. Most of the time the cause will be blamed on something else such as mental illness, or an abusive home situation, which is more than likely true but I'm sure there are many cases where bullying plays a large part.

It's reported that teachers notice and intervene in only one out of 25 episodes of verbal or emotional bullying behavior. There is no excuse for teachers and/or parents to ignore such behavior for that type of conduct usually escalates. In addition to intervening, adults should take a proactive approach and create role-playing situations to teach empathy to children starting in pre-school and continue teaching the importance of empathy throughout the child's educational process. If we combine intervention, teaching empathy with a no tolerance for schoolyard terrorism policy, I think we would see a radical decrease in such behavior.

Bullies intimidate smaller or weaker people that they know won't fight back...bully is just another word for coward.


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