Saturday, October 9, 2010

Decency, Bullying, Human Kindness and Other Musings

Last school year a couple of my 9th grade boys were making fun of an oblivious female student. Unaware of most things, the girl didn't notice (luckily). But it was borderline bullying. Naturally, I flipped. I took them both out in the hall and, body shaking, eyes bugged, voice low and guttural, I only recall saying something about, "I am disgusted at your behavior. Don't even try and act innocent. Who do you think you are? She is a human being deserving of all the respect your heartlessness can give." I was incensed, my mind flipping back through the calendar years to my own tumultuous adolescence of teasing and crippling insecurity.

I can't help thinking about how bullying has evolved since social networking, email, texting, photo messages, and all other mediums of communication have emerged. I thought the Nick C. debacles of my youth were bad, but pagers were as high tech as my junior high could get. Nobody ever took video footage of my most humiliating experiences and posted them to youtube. Early 90's cruelty never went viral.

I recently read this article. Which just saddens me. While I wonder about the environment of that school, I worry more about what is happening in these adolescents' homes.

Kids learn how to treat their fellow man from the adults in their lives. They learn how to behave, how to love, how to hate all from the adults around them. And while a great deal of human socialization happens outside of the home, especially once adolescence kicks in, someone is teaching these children to behave with cruelty.

Which leads me to wonder about how we as adults treat one another. While we've mastered subtlety in human interaction, are we also not guilty of occasionally bullying, teasing, ganging up on one another? Do we not leave one another out, backbite, gossip? I think we are not as kind as we could be. We tell our kids to be nice but sometimes show them another example entirely. I think we can be equally cruel, if not openly cruel. I think we are just as guilty of forgetting the value of a single individual, a value that is immeasurable.


Shannon said...

I agree, Rookie. You never know when someone is watching and learning...even being silent while others gossip, make fun, or back bite is a form of participation, no? It's something I'm working on; not allowing it to go on in my presence is a step in the right direction and one that isn't always easy to take.

Anonymous said...

Such a good point. That is unfortunately true. We can all do better to remember that we are all God's children. Thanks for the reminder.

Word Verification: "thehookey" = sneezing while saying your name :)

Wendy said...

I quoted part of this at a school improvement team meeting today as we discussed professional pessimism and discourse. :)

Thanks...and I gave you complete credit. :)