If we all examine our childhood we can look back at times when we faced a bully or two. If that never happened to you than you need to ask yourself if you were the one who was a bully. I remember being accosted in the bathroom by two girls wanting to know if I was going to vote for Barry Goldwater. Really. I was in 7th grade and pretty clueless about everything except horses. I had no clue who Barry Goldwater was at the time and I know that I was scared out of my mind. But now that I am a news and history junkie I can safely say from my armchair 50 years later Hell yes I would have voted for him. They tag teamed me and intimidated me and it has stayed with me all these years. I can remember other events that while cruel were not necessarily bullying in the present day sense. In grade school I was a little chubby(I am issuing a loud snort here) and remember Alan Weidemier calling me "Baby Huey" after the fat cartoon duck. I was crushed and maybe depressed because in my young eyes he was pretty cute. So I can safely say that ugly comments designed to hurt our feelings and bullying is nothing new. What is new is our availability to social media and the widespread damage it can cause. If Alan had texted to all of his buddies or put on Facebook that I looked like Baby Huey that comment would have fostered all kinds of cruel comments from people who never even met me. I grieve for the parents of children who were victim of senseless cruelty from their peers. That their only outcome was suicide is even more tragic. So what happens to the little darlings that hounded these victims. They are free to grow up, marry, have children and live their life. I can't even come up with a punishment for these bullies that is bad enough that would satisfy me. What is amazing is that the parents of the perpetrators are in denial that their little darlings could have possibly done something so horrendous. I love my social media outlet. I am a Facebook junkie and cannot wait to see what others have posted. It is a fact that our children get caught up in the same addiction and that most will not go against the "popular" in-group to defend a person who is being online bullied. I can remember feeling in junior high that I would rather not be noticed and that anonymity is like a warm blanket. To be ignored is so much better than to be targeted for the clothes I wear or how my hair looks or the shape of my body. Today that same feeling has to be ten times worse. Our job as parents and grandparents is to teach our offspring that it is not enough to ignore hateful comments about others but to take a stand to defend those who are weaker. We have to be able to instill such a feeling of self worth that the barbs of others cannot send our children reeling into the abyss of self loathing that ends in suicide. As a grandparent my feelings are the same as when I was a parent only 10 times more developed. I will want to lay waste to anyone who would dare bully Winston, Allison or Aries. But I cannot fight their battles because they need to be able to take a verbal hit and remain intact emotionally to grow into adults. I can stand by and offer my arms to hold them when their feelings are hurt and can teach them to defend those weaker. I will teach them to look at each person as an individual and not weigh their worth against the 'popular' group. I will pray that each of my grandchildren will offer the hand of friendship to those deemed "less" and that their kindness will be a light in the darkness for another child in need. I pray that my grandchildren will learn that their value is not measured in what others think or write about them but what they have in their hearts and what they feel about themselves.
As a final comment Proverbs 18:21 Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.