|English: this is my own version of what bullying looks like (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
After the video of Karen Klein, the bus monitor who was relentlessly bullied by middle schoolers, went viral, the world is shocked. How could these children treat another human being this way? How could these kids get away with it? And we show our outrage by donating money to give Karen a vacation, to get her away from her job, as a way to apologize for the torment she was subjected to at the hands of children. We show our outrage by sending death threats to the children involved, swearing that this time, it has to stop.
And sure I find myself shocked as well, shocked that children once again prove just how cruel they can be. Shocked at the level of bullying these kids stoop to. Shocked that they talk about stabbing her and gang up on her and never stop. But I am not surprised. And neither should anyone else be. This happens every day, on busses across our nation. Whether it is kids turning on each other other or turning on adults, this is our reality. We talk about bully prevention but forget that the minute our children are out of sight from us, they make their own decisions. As parents we hope that the decisions they make will make us proud, rather than mortified. We hope that we have raised them right, to be decent human beings that do not harm, that do not torment, that do not bully. And yet, the moment we send them out of our door, they make their own decisions, good or bad.
I see this with my 3 year old when I pick her up from daycare. How rather than solving a dispute she hits another child, and I stand there mortified. Shocked even, that my loving child, hit someone else when she didn’t get the toy she wanted. Yes, it is a stage, and yes, she is only 3, but still…we have raised her better. She knows she is not allowed to hit. She knows what the consequences are. She knows our expectations, and yet, her arm raised and slap, making the other child cry. Far cry from the bullying that happened to Karen Klein, but the same nonetheless. The hurting of another human being.
So what can we do? We talk about training against bullying. We talk about awareness of what makes a bully. We monitor our children, our students, we talk and talk and talk. We share videos, we enlist celebrities, we punish, and we talk some more. And yet it doesn’t seem to make a difference. Kids continue to be kids, and kids continue to bully. So let’s continue being outraged, but let’s not be surprised. Surprise means we are not aware and that is a luxury we no longer can hide behind.