Another child becomes physically ill at the thought of going to school. It isn’t because they forgot to study or do their homework. It is not because this is the first day to show up to school with braces. They received a text this morning that said that the bullies would be waiting for them. Yesterday plays back in their minds like a bad movie. They visualize how they were pushed to the ground, their lunches destroyed, and their pockets emptied. They remember last week when they witnessed a child beaten up in class, with the teacher present, and the injured child had to leave school for medical treatment. They think back on the two friends last year, whose frightened parents decided that home schooling was better in the long run for their children
The bullies have control, both in the classrooms and outside on the social circuits. Our children do not feel safe enough to go to school. How can we expect them to learn if they are forever looking over their shoulders for harm to come their way? The teachers can’t and won’t help, for fear of reprisal from society, their superiors and yes the students. Will I loose my job? Will the bully take action against my family or my possessions? The children have no safe space to call their own. They are bullied on buses, in the classroom, the restrooms, at school functions and yes, even in the sanctity of their homes on the social internet. They feel a need to become part of the herd rather than fight against it. They don’t want to be culled from the group and branded as outcasts. They believe that if their parents had the ability to fight it, if the police felt they could help, if the church could make a difference, then they might feel more apt to deal with the day to day issues they face. The problem is that they see these pillars they look up to for guidance and protection, not able to do anymore than they can. How often do they hear, “There’s nothing I can do”, “We aren’t allowed to disciple”, or “Our hands are tied”.
In this day and time, we are concerned about the terrorists of the world and what they will do. But aren’t we, in our own way, condoning this type of behavior in our schools? We are allowing our children to be terrorized on a daily basis. It is no longer a case of a simple prank. It is fear of injury, ridicule, retaliation, and even death. Has the righteous turned a blind eye for so long, as to allow evil to rule and the honorable to cower? Are we to believe that this is just the way it is and nothing can be done?
Let me ask you this. If garbage lay decaying in the center of your living room, would you just walk around it? Would you cover it with perfumed spray, surround it with flowers or cover it with a blanket to hide it? Hopefully not. It is my expectation, that you would roll up your sleeves and attack the trash with a vengeance, until no trace or smell of it would linger. That, through our own actions, our living space would once more belong to us. So, why then do we allow this to go on in our schools? Why do we sit back and permit the stench of decay and loss of education to become the norm? Do we plan to tiptoe around the pile of decaying trash, allowing rats and maggots to consume our places of learning? Do we permit the Phoebe Prince’s of the world to feel that the only way beyond this is to end their suffering? Have you ever searched the internet to see how many childhood suicides are linked directly to harassment by other children? These lost children are just the tips of the iceberg that are visible. There are so many others, right now, living through this nightmare.
Bullies will never go away. They have always been around. This is not a social, economic or racial issue. You can’t hide your child in an ivy school and feel immune to this behavior. Removing them from society and enclosing them into home schooling is only a band-aid fix. It does not prepare them for the real world or give them the tools needed to stand their grounds and fight. Ostriches breed ostriches. Fear feeds on fear.
In the past, our families would not tolerate it. The schools and churches stood up against it. The police had the authority and the support of the constituents to control it. Neighbors looked out for neighbors. But then again, all of these people had the support of families who cared enough to take a stand. Cared enough to come out of their comfortable cocoons and stand up for what was right. How much do you care?
Being less than five feet tall all my life, harassment was inevitable. I never took it lying down. I got right in their faces and called them out on it publicly. You know what usually happened? The bullies backed down. They don’t like their faults broadcast. They don’t like witnesses. They especially don’t like facts.
Where are the flower children, the rebels, the fighters that existed some 40 years ago? Have you all buried your heads in the sand and decided it is someone else’s fight? These are your children, our grandchildren, our neighbors, and our friends. It is time to take a stand. It is time to take back our schools and our neighborhoods. It is time to act. Leave a legacy your grandchildren will be proud of. Give them the tools and the right, to not be afraid. Give them hope and insight to see that they have a future. Let their biggest worries be the surprise pop quiz or the pimple on picture day. It is our choice; it is their right.