The concept of bullying is rarely taken lightly in America. It appears that many, if not all people, experience some type of harassment or bullying at some point in their lives. But what baffles me is that most bullying experiences happen to young children. I am simply amazed at how cruel some children can be, intentionally or not, at such a young ages.
When an individual thinks of harassment or intimidation, one often thinks of a larger student hitting another, or making them turnover their lunch money as commonly shown in TV shows and cartoons. But I personally think the real danger in bullying is not the aggressive tendencies shown in pre-teens, but rather the hurtful name-calling and words that students may use against one another. My older sister once told me "Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me," and as much as I'd like to believe this, it is just not true.
When I was in fifth grade, I was awkward and overweight, and this led to tremendously hurtful name-calling. But what really upsets me is that I am hardly the first student to get bullied at a young age. In fact, I don't think I have ever met anyone, ever, who has not experienced bullying in their lifetime. And how sad is that? That I, at 19 years old, have never met someone who hasn't before been hurt or saddened by another person's words or actions. And for this reason, I believe that there is something genuinely wrong with our younger generations.
Now, don't get me wrong, as much as I'd like for bullying and harassment to be erased completely, I know that this is unrealistic. But for me, it's a horrible thought to think that almost, if not all students experience bullying in their 12 plus years of schooling. But how can we minimize this? How can we be sure that our friends and family don't feel hurt or scared or embarrassed while at school? My only answer is to say that it starts with the parents, coaches and mentors.
A couple years ago, my younger cousin played little league baseball. At the end of the game, both teams filled with little boys and girls would line up for the "base-race," which was essentially a race around the bases to celebrate the end of the game. I remember one boy fell really hard on the last lap, losing the race and crying on his way to home plate. The other team immediately, without thought, burst into laughter at the child's failure. I know it may sound too cynical to be true but this really happened; the opposing team was happy for the win and began laughing boisterously at the fallen boy. However, and thank god for this, the opposing team's coach heard the laughter and shut it down as quickly as possible, sternly commanding his team to stop laughing, and apologize to the child as they high-fived before receiving their snacks.
By no means were any of those laughing kids purposefully being mean, and I'm sure they didn't realize their harassment at the time, but if no one teaches them, how will they learn? For me, the moral of this article is to stress how important it is to teach our younger generations to be kind, and even though this is not an easy task, it is crucial. Because I hope one day when I have children of my own, they won't experience as much hounding as the average student does now.