School is quickly approaching and it’s time to have that conversation with our kids about bullies and bullying. I read a reminder the other day. You see, every victim has a name. The one that comes to mind immediately for me is Daniel Fitzpatrick, 13 years old from Staten Island, NY. He agonized, wrote it down and while people saw what was happening, no one did a thing to help him. I wish I was not writing about this. I was bullied as a child because I was different and that stuck with me throughout my life. I am always conscious of the way my actions and words make other people feel. I never want them to feel the way I did then and even at different instances throughout my life. Bullying comes in many non-violent forms and in many instances others will see it happen and do nothing about it. That is a sad reality. Some people are not as thick skinned as others. Do you remember “sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me?" It was a lie, all lies.
I talk to my kids about our differences. My wife and I educate our kids on respecting others, their choices and opinions. Ironically, I see some of the people who have bullied me even today and I take no pleasure in seeing that they are just where others told me they would be and wish no ill will towards those karma hasn’t caught yet. As parents none of us are perfect but our children’s first teachers are us, parents. If a bully has gotten away with it as a child, they will continue on in adult life, I’ve seen it, it’s real and we parents, educators and friends need to step in when we see it happening and do something. Too often, we are reading about a child that has taken his or her own life because they were bullied on social media, in school or at camp. These are all places that should be monitored, where we should be safe or have a sense of some security.
One way bullying is perpetuated is by classifications such as popular kid, athlete or any group which empowers them with a pack mentality. I’ve seen parents foster the behavior and when the bullying happens they say “not my kid.” It’s tough enough being a kid today without having what they feel is awkward put on blast. I believe kids who bully grow up to be adults who bully. The bully doesn’t come to realize the damage they do. They get laughs. It’s not happening to those laughing so, it’s funny. As adults, the bully gets results but no one knows the price the victim has paid for those results. As I say to my own children “It’s all fun and games until someone loses an eye” Bullying is a serious issue and you may read my post and say “yeah, okay” but when it happens to your child you will understand just a sliver of what the parents of those who have lost a child, sacrificed a life all because you saw something and did nothing. Don’t let that be you. Talk to your children not just about bullying but sex, drugs and peer pressure. Make them feel comfortable coming to you. I know, I have not read the last news story of someone taking their life but we have a duty to our children and the children that they come in contact with on both sides. Don’t stand by watching someone be bullied and don’t allow your child to bully. You can save a life just by talking.