Good Morning! Here is the Monday Morning Blog!
Hope you all had a great weekend. Weather here was wet and rainy on Saturday, but a great fall day (for Minnesota standards) on Sunday. I hosted our book club on Saturday and took care of some tasks in the Writing House on Sunday. While doing some online research, I found a story about bullying in a Tennessee high school.
The yet to be published (goal of October 2018) second book in The Way series is called The Bully’s Way. It is a novel about bullying going on at Mulston High School (a fictional high school introduced in the first book, The Hard Way). For this week’s blog, I thought I would focus on an issue which has and still does affect teenagers. With October being Bullying Prevention Month, I thought I’d take a look at what it is.
The dictionary definition of bullying is:
use of superior strength or influence to intimidate someone typically to force him or her to do what they want.
When the definition is adjusted for the school version, according to StopBullying.Gov bullying is
the unwanted aggressive behavior among school aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance.
There are different types of bullying. The four main ones are physical, verbal, social, and cyberbullying. Most bullying was taking place during or after school until cyberbullying became more popular. Now it can happen twenty-four hours a day with the internet and social media.
Bullying and teasing others isn’t a new phenomenon, it has been going on for years. Why do we continue to let it happen? One of the common reasons we hear is, it is just letting kids be kids. What? It is letting kids be mean to other kids. I think my mom always told me to be nice to others. And do on to others as you would have them do onto you.
Most of the stories I have read about how kids are responding to bullying, is they kill themselves. Why? They feel that there is no way to get away from it. We as a society haven’t made a safe place for them to go and have something done to stop it. And what about the bully? We have so many rules protecting them they wind up not being punished for what they are doing to others. So, in the end, the bully is not only protected by the system but also by the fear of retribution if the person being bullied chooses to report it.
There is a lot of work to be done to help teens decide killing themselves isn’t the only way to get bullying to stop. I read an article over the weekend about a school in Lebanon, TN. A girl named Allie Johnson killed herself because she was being bullied. She was 15.
I looked at Allie’s obituary online. A sweet young lady is pictured sitting in a chair. There are many others who have been the same way before they committed suicide. How sad she died at 15. She had so much of her life ahead of her. It is even worse when we think about how she died.
According to an online story on www.wsmv.com, a girl named Jenna Manus, who didn’t know Allie personally, but saw her at school decided to share her feelings about the situation. She wrote and posted an open letter on Facebook to her classmates and friends asking them to put other people’s feelings first over jokes and teasing. Just because they think they are teasing, doesn’t mean the person being “teased” feels the same way about it. Here is a link to the story Teen suicides raise concerns about bullying in local high school
I read Jenna’s open letter on her Facebook page last night. It was a well written teen look at what her school was doing to create an environment that contributed to Allie’s death. Here is an excerpt;
“The bully culture we have all created at Lebanon High School is our fault. We created this. Let’s start treating others with kindness; despite our differences. Let’s quit lifestyle shaming our classmates, and instead find good in others. Let’s stop spreading rumors and instead start spreading kind words…”
It continues, but at the end she says,
“Imagine how much nicer it would be at a school where instead of spreading hate, we encouraged our classmates, complimented our classmates, encouraged our classmates, accepted our classmates, and even go so far as loving our classmates. Now I don’t think that we can all change in a day. I don’t expect to come back from fall break and everyone be kind. But why not try?”
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From this situation, the community in Lebanon is creating a support group for parents and kids to get people to talk about bullying. It may be the start of the Allie J project to focus on anti bullying and suicide prevention. Wilson County Schools are planning a meeting on October 18th to discuss changes going forward to the bullying environment. Hopefully starting these types of conversations here in Lebanon and other places helps to slow down the occurrences of teen suicide caused by bullying. Adding this to what Jenna said in her letter, they may be off to a good start.
Bullying is not ok. Too many people are getting hurt or dying from it. We need to find ways to start being nice to one another. It is not going to get better until we start talking about solutions instead of reporting that it has happened again. And another teen has killed themselves.
This research gave me some food for thought. I hope it did for you too. Have a great week.