Originally written in the summer, however, I wanted to share this now because of Bully Prevention Month...
Today I took my niece to the pool. As I watched her do her 50th handstand in a row, coming up with goggles half on and half off, I decided to check the news for a brief moment. I immediately took notice and read about the shootings in Wisconsin. I paused, looked at her, and took a deep breath out as I watched her do #51.
The safety break bell rang. She was hungry. I was sad. I tried to conceal my feelings about what I had just read. How do you tell a child that people were gunned down 5 minutes ago at their place of worship? How do you hide the sadness? I couldn't decide whether to tell her or not, make a fake smile, or drift off into my own moments of silence. She had just learned about the horrors in Colorado. I couldn't bring myself to discuss this new tragedy one week later. There is simply no way to provide any type of rational explanation for vast amounts of lost innocent life, especially to a child. As adults, we can't understand it either.
I ordered her a sandwich and we talked about school, books, handstands in the water, and summer camp. During our conversation, we had to pause because we heard a young boy scream. As a natural instinct, I turned to make sure the boy was okay. He wasn't okay. Crying and distraught, his father looked at him and said: "There is no hitting." Normally, I am grateful for parents who tell their children not to hit, however, as the father was stating the sentence, he had his hand raised and it appeared as if he were going to hit his son. Everyone stared and the manager approached him. They walked away quietly as we noticed the father's hand go down in both shame and embarrassment.
This is where a bully can be born, at home, in the community, and in our own backyards. We may be absolutely oblivious to it, however, it is happening right before our eyes.
When a child hits another child at school, we wonder and we ask "why, how?" When the bully starts picking on another child, we wonder how this tormenting began. We are angry if our children are the victims, and rightly so, we should be.
However, that child who is a bully, who swears, who hits and/or threatens has learned this behavior somewhere. This child is either witnessing violence or is a victim of violence. Someone may be calling the bully a name, hitting him, and/or neglecting him. The bully is a victim too.
Someone in the bully's life said this type of behavior is okay, this is the way it is done, and this is the norm. Someone became the epitome of violence in that child's life. A child knows only what he knows and/or what he is shown (unless there are certain medical issues he/she is born with). If not, a child is a blank slate (or a tabula rasa) waiting for information.
This approved behavior in the home carries into the school, unless it is noticed and stopped. It goes from the school into adulthood, to abusive marriages, and the cycle continues with next generation. If the behavior is never stopped, things can get out of control, innocence is lost for all victims involved, and too many lives are ruined due to senseless acts.
Did our stares at the pool stop the child from being hit? At the moment they did. The manager showed great concern and approached the situation immediately, however, that family will go home, and will most likely fall into the same pattern immediately.
Private problems and behaviors have quickly become the public's problems. The public now carries the weight of the abuse and is often victimized.
The line of involvement in the lives of others is greatly blurred. How do we know when to step in? A hand raised? A tap? A mean name? In the lives of other parents, this is a very hard call.
If everyone believed that it's easier to love and smile, rather than to yell and be full of anger, we would have a much better world.
Filed under: Motivation