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Who Gave Them the Right?

Mallory Grossman was 12-years-old when she committed suicide because of being bullied at school.  Her bullies weren’t just students, it was teaching faculty also.  Her parents are suing the school system because of the faculty being a part of the problem that caused their daughter to commit suicide.

Technology is awesome.  Today, I bet the reading ability for the average student is a higher than it was when I was in school and this is all due to technology.  When I was in school, I had a reading disability; today, I have yet to meet a student that has a reading disability and has to go to tutoring for it.  The students are still reading at school; but now they read text messages, Snapchat messages, and emails.  Some schools have even gone to computer setups where computers are a necessity and not a commodity and therefore they loan them out to their students … something like the way books were loaned out when I was in school.

In an average week, I use Email, Facebook, and Twitter.  I will gain access to these sites on 3 types of devices:  my cellphone, my Kindle, and my laptop.  Oh, by the way, I have 4 Email accounts (one for every walk of life).  I would imagine that the average student uses on any given week, Email (probably just as many as me, because Mom and Dad can only suspend one), Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, YouTube, KiK, and Instagram (and probably a few dozen more since I don’t stay in touch with the daily trends).  Honestly, I have a hard time keeping up with Facebook and Twitter on top of work, reading and writing; I don’t know how school age teens have enough hours in the day to do it … but they do and that is where the problem comes in at.

When I was in school, I was bullied a lot … I mean, seriously, a lot.  I don’t know why … my guess is, I got on people’s nerves.  However, today, many of the people that would bully me as a teen are friends with me on my Facebook.  No, we don’t hangout or anything; but it goes to show, as adults, we do act our age.  I hold no grudges for the ones that bullied me.  As a matter of fact, today, I sympathize with some of them because they have had a really hard life in comparison to mine.

There was this one girl that used to bully me that I thought was the prettiest person.  Even though she obviously didn’t like me, that never deflected what I thought about her.  I just knew that she could have had any boyfriend she wanted and it was obvious that she had a lot of friends.  A few years ago, she committed suicide.  I didn’t find out until years after it happened; I was absolutely devastated when I found out.  I wished I had been given the opportunity to speak to her one more time.  I wanted her to know what I always thought about her … back then and today.  I always wondered what made her do it.  Some said a failing marriage … others said a terminal illness … I hate knowing that she would have done something like that because someone didn’t like her.  I would have been the first one to let her know, this was not the answer.

Back then, all I had to do was tolerate the class or bus ride that the bullies were on.  When that class or bus ride was over, I didn’t have to deal with the bullies again until the next day … on Fridays, I had a 2 day break from any bullying.  Today, our teens don’t have it that easy.  The bullying today takes on a deeper meaning than it used to.  Today’s bullying would be considered stalking more than it would be called bullying.  Sure, they are still calling them names, degrading their self-worth, and isolating them from everyone else … but they are doing it all day long.  That is all these people live for … taunting and making this person’s life a living Hell.  It doesn’t end with that one class and it doesn’t end when you get off the bus.  It starts with the texting, emails, and SnapChat first thing in the morning and that is where it stays all day … unless you are in person, of course.   They are able to do it in such a way that even the adults … the teachers and parents … get caught up in it.  As I sit here and write this, I am hoping that the adults don’t actively know what they are doing exactly.  I am hoping this teen is convincing them this is a prank and not bullying; thus their participation is supposed to bring a laugh and not a cry.

When I was in school, adults would tell me, “awe, they (the bullies) just like you”.  No, it was obvious they didn’t.  Even as I sit here as an adult myself, I don’t know what can be done about bullies; but I know something needs to be done.  Sure you can change there classes so they aren’t in the same classrooms; but that really doesn’t take care of the problem.  As I said, these teens today are texting them, SnapChatting them, going on their Facebook and posting things, and making videos on YouTube.  At this point, even changing their schools wouldn’t work.

Honestly, I think the only thing that would work is acting as an example for these teens.  No, maybe not after they become teens; but when they are younger, show them how to treat others.  Sure, you are going to have personality conflicts from time to time … I don’t think that is what bullying is.  I think these teens at some point in their life was given the right to be mean, and the one that gave them that right by example, needs to fix the problem.

For example, one day I was in the Wal-Mart and I ran into one the ladies that as teens was my biggest bully.  Not only did she bully me, in no uncertain terms, she would tell you in a heartbeat back then that she hated me.  In her shoes, I would have probably hated me too.  We were on the same softball team together.  This girl put her all into it.  I don’t know if she ever played for our high school team or not; if she didn’t, she sure needed to … she was just that good.  I really didn’t like softball.  I have never been the outdoor type.  I have always been happier indoors, either writing or reading.  So, imagine playing on a softball team with a player that didn’t want to be there and you were are a competitive player with an all win attitude … it probably made her angry on more than one occasion and yet she was stuck with me.

Anyways, we had not seen one another in years when we ran into one another at the Wal-Mart.  As we got to talking and catching up, my son, who was only about 2 years old at the time, asked me if she was a friend of mine.  Me and this lady both looked at one another and started laughing and the lady told my son, “not until now,” and she was so right.  Never in our history were we ever friends; but today, we may not hangout, but we do have a certain respect for one another.  I have told my boys several times about this lady and our history.  I have showed them that you can’t hold grudges and although you don’t particularly like someone, doesn’t mean you can’t respect them.  I could sit here and give you hundreds of examples of my boys paying it forward what they have been taught by example; but I won’t bore you with the details.  I will say this, they have never been called bullies and everyone that meets them will tell you that they have been nothing but a friend to them.  I tell people every day, once I meet you, regardless of our past, we are friends and my boys do the same.

We need to show our kids that people’s feeling do matter.  Even when we don’t have a particular interest in their life, we can be the one that changes everything for them.  All it would take is one time for them to be the one that changed someone else’s day by saying just what needed to be said instead of hating on them for being in the way.  Next time you get ready to say something mean about someone else or make a face that is unpleasant, think about your audience … you may be giving someone else the right to be a bully.