I think it’s safe to assume that a good number of us were teased during our childhood. Whether because of our looks, our weight, or perceived “awkwardness,” things to be teased about never seemed to be in short supply. The “harmless” teasing that adults routinely told children to knock off and forget has not only been elevated in stature (bullying) but also in consequences.
With the proliferation of the Internet and social media, the teasing of yesteryear has become more widespread and toxic, and it is the widespread nature and toxicity of today’s bullying that has led to a higher level of depression and anxiety in children. The desire to obtain more pageviews, followers, retweets, and “likes” has upped the ante in regard to the distasteful nature of what is being said and done to bullying targets. Lower performance in school, social isolation, behavioral issues, and on the extreme end, acts of aggression towards students and school officials and suicide are typical byproducts of bullying.
Inspired by James Howe’s young adult novel about four friends battling bullying in the seventh grade, “The Misfits,” No Name- Calling week was developed to raise awareness about bullying. No Name- Calling week is the brainchild of the No Name-Calling Week Coalition created by GLSEN and Simon & Schuster Children’s publishing. The No Name-Calling initative aims to set aside one week every year where it provides individuals with educational activities geared towards stamping out all kinds of name- calling, along with providing opportunities to participate in on-going conversations targeted towards ending bullying. Visitors to the No Name-Calling Week website can view and download resources developed to shed light on the harmful effects of bullying.
Bullying does not distinguish between age, gender, economic, or social group. It is a destructor of man, choking the spirits of every one it marks. Simply logging onto to read the comments left on articles about celebrities or public figures highlights the venomous intent of some to deride the character of these individuals. Gossip shows and magazines, newscast, sportscast, and reality shows are just a few of the places where disparaging remarks are being made about people’s characters. The prolific occurrence of these instances of name- calling and bullying on the Internet, TV, and print is molding a generation of children who regard this type of behavior as acceptable. Of course, celebrities and public figures are not the only ones targeted for such blistering attacks, nowadays, anyone with any type of web footprint is subject to be attacked by bullies. The virtual anoynmity of these mediums is fodder for bullies. In some instances, the veracity with which people are attacked through the Internet, TV, and print bolsters face to face incidents of bullying.
Bullying is not just a issue of what is being shared on the Internet, TV and/or print, it begins with what is allowed and encouraged to be viewed in the home, as well as what is allowed and encouraged to be said about others. Do you make blistering remarks about others in front of your children? Do you sit around as a family to watch shows riddled with incidents of insults and attacks towards others based on things like weight? Failure to address the issue of bullying at home creates a quasi- permissive stance towards this destructive behavior. This quasi- permissive stance also extends to how we approach this issue with adults. Are we willing to take a stand against disparaging remarks made in our presence?
It can be tough and awkward to take a stand against bullying but it can and should be done. Minimizing bullying begins with adults who are sensitive to the differences and challenges among them and around the globe. It begins with adults who aren’t willing to idly sit by and watch and/or read materials that degrade individuals similar and different than them. We must become the change that we want to see. It starts with you and me.
In what ways do you fight against bullying?