Stop Bullying By Telling Truth To Power

One more child is dead due to silence around bullying.  Prosecutors in New York just charged nine (yes nine!) teenagers with a variety of crimes including stalking, harassment and rape after the death of a 15-year-old girl who committed suicide.  Apparently she had recently immigrated from Ireland and was dating an older boy, which displeased her classmates. The prosecutor alleged that the bullying had been “common knowledge” and the mother had spoken to school administrators at least twice. One father said other harassment had been going on at the school for a number of years. The mother of one of the students charged said “we all have stong values and don’t like injustice…including bullying or being racist.”

I am sad that parents and administrators still do not know how to deal with bullying. Bullying is motivated by power. It is a social  phenomena where the strong pick on the weak and the bystanders (including students, parents and teachers) are as much to blame as the students. Bystanders are critical because they support the status quo by not speaking up. We all turn away when we see things we feel we can not change, but someone must tell the truth. Someone has to break the code. We must teach our children values, yes, but also how to “tell the truth to power.” How to stand up when powerful people, who are in the wrong, threaten you.  We too, as parents, must be models for our children by doing the same.  Telling the truth will not just set you free, it may save someone’s life.

Source Agence France-Presse March 31, 2010

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