Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Beyond Politics: Bullying

A picture of bullying.

Bullying is causing an epidemic of mental health issues and suicide amongst our youth.

GOProud is a group that was formed by two former staffers of The Log Cabin Republicans, which is the Republican LGBT* Caucus. GOProud felt that The Log Cabin Republicans were ‘too moderate’.
Recently I was reading, doing research on different LGBT* Caucuses of different parties and while reading what GOProud stood for I came across where they believed that what would help with bullying (particularly of LGBT* youth) isn’t more money or more government intervention, but more school choice, and the choice of the parent to home school their children.

A few hours after reading that, I wrote the following as a response:
The problem is, GOProud, is that school choice isn’t the answer to bullying. But let’s be fair, money pits aren’t either. If you would’ve sent me to a private school in northwest Georgia, where I live, I would have been bullied just as much if not worse. And my school had all of those laminated anti-bullying posters, that’s the money pit! And it doesn’t work! It doesn’t work because teachers, administrators and janitors would turn a blind eye. For lack of a better term, it was Anarchy! There was no governmental system! As students we formed collectives and lived or died by those collectives. When it comes to bullying in schools, LGBT* or otherwise, let’s stop politicizing the issue. It comes down to, ‘who cares’? Do the people who work at the school care enough to stop it? Do the parents care enough to teach their kids not to bully? I’m tired of the rhetoric, and I’m sure you’ve heart it before, ‘what if that was your child’ or ‘what if that was you’? But seriously, let’s cut the rhetoric. This goes beyond rhetoric and politics. You should do it because you care and because you’re decent and you shouldn’t do it for any other reason than that. For the people who work at the schools and on the buses, if you won’t do it because it’s your job, do it as a decent human being. As philosopher Judith Jarvis Thomson put it, you are morally required to be a ‘Minimally Decent Samaritan.’ (As opposed to the Good Samaritan mentioned in the Christian Parable.)
This goes beyond politics. Bullying in schools can lead to life – long battles with depression, anxiety and other mental illnesses, if not suicide! (See some of the bullying statistics provided at the end of this piece.) Believe it or not, Lady Gaga pretty much gets it right. She says it isn’t the victim, it’s the bully. But I would look just a little further, if we’re getting at the root, let’s get at the root. Not to say that we can’t comfort and work with bullies who are abused at home, but parent’s who abuse their children need to be reprimanded and parents who teach intolerance and hatred that breeds violence need to be reprimanded. It’s time kids were raised with and by tolerance and understanding.
Now is not the time to wait for Congress to write a bill. Now is not the time to wait for your school board to decide. Now is the time to act. It’s time to stop turning a blind eye. Now is not the time for politics. It’s the time for people.
I grew up in the type of environment where bullies were a simple problem with simple solutions (the idea being that if you stand up to them, then they’ll leave you alone). I also grew up with the impression that depression was a new aged hippie liberal problem, and that it was all mind over matter. (“If you don’t mind, it don’t matter.”)
But despite all of this, bullying – its causes and its consequences – are all very important.
Emotional bullying may be more prevalent now then physical bullying, however, it doesn’t go unseen, only unnoticed. All the signs are there.
We don’t need Executive Orders or Hollywood movies, we each carry great capacities on our own, we just need to learn to not only be active, but to be proactive instead of reactive.
1/4 kids will be bullied sometime throughout their adolescence.
Suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death among young people.
For every 1 suicide there are at least 1000 attempts.
LGBT* youth are 2 – 3 times more likely to commit teen suicide than other youths.
About 30% of all completed youth suicides have been related to sexual identity crisis.
9/10 LGBT* teens have been reported being bullied at school within the past year.
14% of high school students have considered suicide and 7% have attempted.
I encourage you to utilize the resources below (and to share and discuss all others that you may know) to education yourself, your family, your friends and your entire community about the negative effects of bullying and what we all can do to A.) Stop bullying and B.) Comfort and counsel the bullied.
Bullying.org – General Awareness
Solutionsforbullying.com – For Parents, Educators & Other Professionals
PFLAG – Parents, Family & Friends of Lesbians and Gays
GLSEN – Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network

"If history is violence and sex, I'd rather not pay my respects. If I've caused offense, I'm just trying to talk sense. Forgive me if I'm too direct or politically incorrect." Jon Foreman

No comments:

Post a Comment