Work together to stop bullying

Kathleen Guill Contributing Columnist

Bullying is a huge issue. I’ve read in different news reports lately that it’s a new epidemic. But is it? I don’t think it is. Bullying has been around as long as there have been people. I think it’s the same as when people say today’s world is more dangerous than ever before. But is it? In both cases, it only seems like it’s worse than ever before because we have more access to the internet than ever before.

I know a lot of people who defend their bullying by saying things like, “Well, I was bullied as a kid so you should just understand where I’m coming from,” or “I’ve led a hard life, and you don’t understand what it’s like, so you should just understand.”

I’m sorry, that does not fly with me. I was bullied my entire life and I’ve never once treated someone badly just because I’ve been treated badly. It’s no excuse at all. This is not to garner sympathy. I am actually grateful for my life, with all of its ups and downs, and yes, even the bullying.

You see, because I was bullied, I was taught empathy. I think this makes me a better parent. I know exactly what to teach my kids. I never want them to be the kid eating alone in the cafeteria, nor do I want them being the ones forcing others to eat alone in the cafeteria.

If you see someone eating alone, join them. If you see someone getting ridiculed because they’re not wearing the hippest clothes or because the bully has declared that person to be “ugly,” do something. Go tell a trusted adult, or stand up for them, or just stand beside them. Do something. There are too many children dying from suicides in America as a direct result of bullying to just sit idly by and watch it happen.

I had something that kids today don’t have. I had a safe space. My home. When I left the bullying behind at school, I knew I’d be safe at home. We didn’t have internet until I was out of high school. I didn’t have to worry about going home and logging on and seeing horrific comments about myself until I was an adult and better equipped to handle it. Yes, adults are bullies too.

Children today go home and log onto the internet first thing, and the bullying just follows them there. Children bullying other children is horrible in itself, but when an adult is bullying children by posting rumors about them to social media or spreading those rumors around town, that is even worse in my opinion.

Something my parents always told me was to ignore the bullies. They only want you to respond to them. If you don’t, they’ll stop and leave you alone. Well, no disrespect to my parents, but only part of that is true. Yes, they only want a response from you, but if you ignore them, they don’t stop. They just change tactics.

All those child bullies really helped me to learn self-control. I am well able to ignore a lot of things, and I have ignored a lot. Responding to bullies is like trying to catch air in a mason jar — pointless to even try.

What I can no longer ignore is the adult bullies who target children because the parent they are bullying doesn’t respond to them. Changing tactics and using a child to hurt someone is one of the worst forms of bullying that I’ve ever come across. We all need to stop, step back, and think before posting or spreading a rumor about anyone.

It’s not hard to love those around you or, at the very least, tolerate them. Ignore what you don’t like and move on. No one is asking you to be friends with anyone you don’t like. Just be civil.

Batman has spoken.

Kathleen Guill Contributing Columnist Guill Contributing Columnist

Reach Kathleen Guill at 580-379-0588, ext. 2602.

Reach Kathleen Guill at 580-379-0588, ext. 2602.

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