September 14, 2007

Bullies In Our Backyards

Ok y'all, so I had to post something about this story. Something.

By now you’ve all heard about the incident that occurred at the University of Maryland a week ago. Apparently some students thought it would be funny (and/or intimidating) to hang a noose from a tree outside of the University’s Cultural Center. This hate crime no doubt stemmed from the tragic state of affairs currently playing out in Jena, Louisiana. And it’s really too outrageous and draining for me to summarize the Jena mess in this post, so if you haven’t already heard about it (which would be a shame in and of itself), please click here to find out more. Oh and while you're at it, don’t forget to read about the fliers that were distributed in Manassas,VA a couple of weeks ago... Are you nauseous yet?

Aside from my general disbelief that hate crimes are still being perpetrated in this day and age, I find that it even scarier for me, as a mother of two small children, to know that one day my kids are going to sent out into the world without me or my husband around to shield them from all of this madness. I mean, in the case of the Jena students – all they were doing was sticking up for themselves. Isn’t that what we teach our kids? To be confident and proud of who you are and to stand up for what you know is right? What if that was my child who decided that she wanted to sit where she wanted to sit at school without regard to her skin color, and with the permission of her teachers, and before she knew it, she was threatened, assaulted and eventually thrown in jail? I can’t even fathom it.

If you think about it, it’s really just a heightened form of bullying. My eldest daughter just started nursery school last week so thankfully we haven’t encountered the bullying issue just yet, but I’m sure some of you parents out there have. In fact, I know that the decision to homeschool for some parents comes, in part, from the fear of bullies at school. And bullying has become an epidemic in our country – just do a quick search on Google and you’ll find a jillion news stories, web sites and initiatives, like this one, on how to deal with it. I’m not sure what the answer is, but I do know that the problem won’t solve itself. There has to be a collective effort on the part of parents to educate their children on how to treat others; on the part of teachers to spot and discourage bullies in the classroom or on the playground; on the part of the school administration to develop zero-tolerance policies for bullying; and on the part of the justice system to do the same. And this effort needs to be applied across the board – from preschool to university to the workplace and beyond.

I’m just not sure what my part is as a parent raising young children – should I be teaching them to stand up for themselves…but not too much, for fear of retaliation? Should I teach them to just look the other way when they see someone else being bullied to avoid making trouble? What I am sure of is that we can't let this be the state of the world that we’re living in. We just can’t.

Because nobody likes a bully.

This entry is cross-posted on the
DC Metro Moms Blog.


Minivan mom said...

Hell yes sister friend. Hell to the yes.

(it's incrdible to come read this post after just finishing my 3 hour graduate social justice class).

We have come so far, but we have so far to go in this country with hate crimes.

ablondeblogger said...

I commented over at DC Metro Moms on this. Such an important topic and I'm so glad you covered it!

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