It’s the little things citizens do. That’s what will make the difference. My little thing is planting trees. ~ Wangari Maathai
It has been interesting lately as two stories broke this week about the ups and downs of modern bullying. One story was the 12-year-old girl who took her own life due to cyberbullying. It was very tragic and made more so as she looked so happy and was so beautiful. But bullycide does not discriminate.
The other story was of the young boy who was bullied and then had 50 bikers (tough guys) escort him to school, letting other children know to leave them alone.
Did either one have their problems solved by these actions? The first story, certainly not. All will suffer from the fallout of suicide. But the boy who was escorted to school is a heartwarming story, but I have to think that, in the long run, it is a temporary solution.
We need to take action as a society to these issues. We need to notice those young children (and they are getting younger) in trouble before they take their life. It is not easy to do. But it is so important that parents, teachers, mentors, and friends speak up. We must break the thought that mental illness cannot be confronted. Recent studies show mental illness is rising in children today. I know that none of us want to face these truths, but if we don’t and don’t take action, we will see it continue. So what can you do?
- See something, say something – In a recent story, a young person took their life and over five adults came forward to say they saw the child being bullied. But they didn’t come forward and say anything until after the suicide. Each one said the same thing, which was that the bullying was minor, so they didn’t report it. But multiply that by five and that’s a lot of bullying. Don’t think, just because you saw a minor incident that you shouldn’t report it. There could be a lot more going on that you aren’t seeing.
- Notice the signs – When children are in distress, they can wear a “mask” to hide it, but there are also commonalities:
- Are their grades dropping
- Are they missing school
- Do they seem unhappy or overly happy
- Are they quieter than usual
- Do they vocalize that they are unhappy or picked on and are you listening
- Be an empathetic person – Try to think about what it’s like to be in someone else’s shoes. If you aren’t bullied or are, can you understand how someone else feels? Can you talk to them about understanding? Most people feel alone. Let them know they aren’t.
We have to start doing something today. With the new school year starting again, it’s time to plan how you can make a difference. If you are reading this, you are already starting to understand that people bullying need help. It’s time to stand up and make that difference that you were always capable of making.