I’ll never forget my second week in grade 7 (7th grade in the US, grade 7 in Canada). I went to class, sat down and there it was, staring me straight in the face. On the desk, written distinctively in black pen were the words: Adam Kruger is a dweeb.
I was 13. The worst part about it was that it was written in a girl’s handwriting. So, not only was I a dweeb, but someone from the opposite sex thought so too. I distinctly remember the pit that instantly formed in my stomach. That sinking feeling as you start to feel less then worthy. My thoughts raced. Was it my clothes? Did I walk funny? Did I talk funny? What was it? I didn’t really know it then, but it had absolutely nothing to do with me at all – it was simply the other person’s (to this day, I have no idea who wrote it) erroneous thoughts about what “cool” was and what it was supposed to be. And it wasn’t even her fault. But more on that later.
What I felt and went through in that moment absolutely sucked. And it was nothing compared to what many other kids are dealing with on a daily basis. Name calling, hitting, shaming. Some are pushed to the point of suicide. It’s beyond unacceptable. It’s not ok to treat others that way. Not even a little bit. A link on Upworthy.com (check it out here) actually inspired this post. As I watched this child describe his daily harassment, all I wanted to do was beat the crap out of the perpetrators. Of course, I know that that would only bring me down to their level and I wouldn’t do anything of the sort (to mention nothing of the fact that the perpetrators are also children, so, double no), but the feeling of outrage is more than justified. And it persists.
I truly believe that we are inherently good. Nobody chooses to be bad or evil. We learn it (Mental illness aside). I honestly feel bad for people who need to put others down in order to feel better about themselves. They must be really low on self-esteem. It doesn’t excuse their behavior in any way whatsoever – I just feel like they really need a hug. Or an encouraging word (maybe a few thousand encouraging words…)
And that’s why I don’t blame the kids. Or the girl who wrote that about me all those years ago. It’s all on the parents. If Jacob ever even considered bullying someone there would be hell to pay. And that’s how I know he won’t. Not only because that behavior would be absolutely punished, but because we are raising him to be secure with who he is and to respect others for who they are – not who society thinks they should be.
So, here I am. A concerned parent of a toddler, and I’m suggesting that these kids who bully others should face consequences.
And so should their parents.
If the law made parents responsible for their kids’ bullying – wow – do you know how fast bullying would stop? I’m not suggesting incarceration or anything. Naw, we should hit ’em where it hurts: implement a financial bullying penalty. For the first offense: The bully and the parent get a warning and have to attend sensitivity training at the parent’s expense. Second offense: same as first, only now the child gets suspended from school as well and the parent has to pay a $500 fine. For the third offense: You guessed it. Expulsion from school, sensitivity training at the parents’ expense, a $1,500 fine and a forced $500 donation to an anti-bullying charity.
Yeah, I’ve obviously given it some thought. It probably won’t ever happen, but can you imagine if parents were held financially accountable for their children’s behavior?
The world would probably be a much better place. Maybe people would think twice before insulting other people – especially if their kids were around to witness it. After all, children do as we do, not as we tell them to do.
We need to act now – the repercussions of bullying will reverberate throughout the bullied child’s life in ways that most of us can’t even fathom.
I mean, I still remember the dweeb incident. I’m over it, but I’ll never forget how I felt that day.
What about the kids who get assaulted, both verbally and physically, on a daily basis?
As parents, it’s time to stand up for them and end bullying before it can even begin. And that starts at home.
Thanks for reading.
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