Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Are you passionate? Or are you a bully?

I have a strong concept of right and wrong.  Perhaps that's why I write fiction.  That way I can ensure the bad guys get their comeuppance and that's where I prefer to keep my conflict.  It's reality that troubles me at times; I see no happy ending for this dilemma.

Recently, I listened to a public service announcement from a president of a teacher’s association talk about how bullying can/must be prevented in schools and that adults have the power to stop it.  While on the surface, this sounds wonderful and part of a perfect world, I find the statement disingenuous.  Why?  Because in my opinion adults are the culprits behind, and, in fact, are the ones responsible for bullying. 

I’m amazed when adults are shocked that a child has been bullied.  Really?  Have you turned on the television lately?  Have you been on Facebook and Twitter?   What some call passionate and their First Amendment right—a rose by any other name, folks—is actually bullying.

Maybe you’ve seen the Vonage commercial about bundling (TV, phone, Internet) where a Stepford-like couple approaches their new neighbors, and says, “But we all bundle.”  I submit in one form or another, “We all bully.”   

The political ads, the downright and dirty attacks on both sides of the political spectrum have little to do with passion.  This is all out war to get their candidate elected.  There’s money to be made in these attack ads, and the ugly truth is conflict and gossip sell.  Take a look at the reality shows.  For some reason, many are drawn to watching fellow human beings experience pain and suffering.  If they weren’t, the ratings wouldn’t be through the roof, and the shows would be cancelled.

If a child is bullied at home, chances are that child is going to bully at school.  If a child is treated with kindness and respect, chances are he will carry on that learned behavior at school.  There are leaders and followers in this world, and children who don't want to be bullied and haven't learned how to stand up for themselves--well, unfortunately, they get behind the bully.  I speak of generalities of course.  There are psychological components that muddy my argument. 

My point is please, don’t tell me that adults have the power to stop anything, when, number one, their actions prove they don’t want to, and, two, they propagate the problem.

Want to stop bullying? Don’t turn a blind eye to what your children are doing in school.  Like it or not, your child has more than one teacher— and you are number one in his social education. 

Teaching children that ganging up on others is unacceptable—that much of the public service announcement is correct.  But our society and our social media tell us bullying is acceptable.  Perhaps the best way to stop bullying is to look in the mirror.  And the next time you “like” a divisive message or retweet an ugly sentiment, consider the ramifications.  Are you passionate about the topic?  Or are you getting behind a bully.

“We all bully.”  What’s more, our children are watching. . . and learning. 



Kenra Daniels said...

Very well said! As a former preschool teacher, I'm reminded of a poem I used to keep posted in my classroom, titled "Children Live What They Learn".

Everywhere our children look, they see examples of adults engaged in bullying behavior, from reality TV, to Facebook. If we want to put a stop to bullying in schools, we have to first stop presenting it in a positive light when it shows up in other places.

Donnell said...

Hi, Kenra, in my opinion, you can't pay teachers enough money. Oh, wait, you get to go in and try to do the damage society does and then face the parents for not understanding when you can't work miracles ;)

Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts, and thank you for making a difference!

Marsha said...

Wow, Donnell, you've called this one. Thanks for tackling a challenging subject. The state of Missouri started a program called Parents as Teachers. We have had it here in Texas for over 25 years. MO had parent educators in each of their elementary schools, funded by the state at the time. Unfortuantely they don't do that anymore. Budget cuts. We've never had it in all school districts nor even in all schools within a district in Texas. The premise is simple--just what you said, Donnell.Parents are a child's first teacher. But who teaches us how to do that job? Or what to expect from kids at a certain age? Or what screenings are avialable in the community? A parent educator does home visits, and the parents also bring the little ones to a site to interact with others. They get to check out toys, games, books, etc. It's a research based program and the stats show what a good use of money it is. Kids who are involved in PAT do better in school. The parents tend to stay involved in the school as the child gets older.
Kenra, thanks for your time as a pre-school teacher, one of the most important jobs. And pass the word about Parents as Teachers. Their web site is
We absolutley can't give in to the lowest common denominator we see on TV. We have to teach respect and responsibility. PAT is one way to get there. Thanks, Donnell.

Donnell said...

Marsha, I have never heard of What wonderful news to know our teachers aren't alone. In a a very real sense, they are bullied, would you agree? Will check further into this. Thank you, Marsha!

KylieBrant said...

Donnell, very well put. I get so discouraged when I see examples of athletes, movie stars, politicians, etc. engaging in the very behaviors that we spend years trying to *prevent* in our school children. Everyone around a child is a role model and it's up to that person to determine if they're going to be a positive model or a negative one. With all the bad adult examples of behavior kids are being bombarded with I feel sometimes like we're fighting an uphill battle.

Lois Winston said...

Brava, Donnell! Not only are kids learning bullying from watching the behavior of adults, often the adults are actually encouraging their kids to bully other kids. Some even partake in the bullying of other kids.

Pat Marinelli said...

Great blog topic. I’ll give you the bullying situation I noticed recently. First let me say, I didn’t vote for Gov. Christie and I didn’t vote for his opponent; although I did vote in that election. But I digress. I hate the way everyone attacks our Governor about his weight and think this is perfectly okay. In my opinion he’s being bully constantly. Okay, he laughs it off as an adult but people doing this don’t even see is that they are giving kids the right to pick on their peers if they think they are even slightly overweight. See the perfect example of adult teaching kids the wrong thing and promptly bullying. Just my two cents on the subject. Oh, and to add another thing, Hubby thinks I’m too sensitive about this, but he doesn’t accept bullying because he was bullied as a kid. So, is this a male/female point of view? I was taught to respect all and Mom always said, "If you can't say something nice, keep your mouth shut."

Donnell Ann Bell said...

Pat, I'm so sorry -- your comment went into the spam directory! You are most definitely not spam.

I don't care what party you belong to. The fact that you disagree with someone politically does NOT give you the right to tear someone apart pysically and emotionally.

It's not about Free Speech. It's about class, ethics and polite society. If we continually spiral downward without a moral compass to guide us, bullying will escalate. No amount of gun control legislation will be able to contain this horrible effect.

I don't about male gender being tougher when it comes to bullying. I will say that there are an equal amount of suicides committed by men/boys. Bullying exists and only conscientious people can stop it. And it has to start at home and when children are very young