Wednesday, June 21, 2006
Off Topic: Bullying and How It Affects Me
Definitely not a financial topic, but one dear and near to my heart. I don't know where to start. Media focuses on kids that go on rampages (ex. Columbine), but we never hear stories about the kid who committed suicide or the kid who grew up forever altered, lack of self-esteem, lack of confidence, lack of socialization skills, forever marred and unable to meet their full potential because they were not picked on, teased by their "friends," etc. But bullying is far more than that, from something as "small" as not being picked to play games, not being included into lunches, or not getting that invitation to a birthday party. When you're young, it doesn't matter. Even the smallest thing feels like a two ton rock falling on you. Just Google, "Bullying & Suicide," and you'll see stories that will open your eyes. Read this story about Ryan Patrick Halligan. Watch Ryan's video. He was victim of "cyber-bullying." Or Jared Benjamin High who was a victim of bullying at school. For both, life ended MUCH too early. As I get older, I realize bullying takes a whole other form typically stereotyping, plain old arrogance, inability to accept other people for who they are. As adults, we generally don't pick on individuals anymore, but rather we bully a group, a personality trait or something we don't agree with. We argue, not for the purpose of bettering each other, but to win, to make the other a loser, to belittle the other side. We forget that not everyone understands, not everyone is blessed with the same brain, not everyone is as experienced. We can only hope to educate and grow together. Maybe this seems foreign to you, or you can't imagine it being that important. If that's the case, I ask you to take a look at your childhood, were you on the other side and didn't even know it or right in the middle between "cool" and "not cool." Are you where you are today, maybe because you were on the other side? Maybe you had a group of friends that made you feel accepted? Maybe you just never noticed the fat kid, the nerdy kid, the different kid? Maybe you were blessed with a strong mind and never was bothered...but as kids, I know the vast majority just want to fit in. Play, have fun, make friends... If you're a parent, I urge you to look at your child. Regardless of whether they are the victim or the offender, to address it and help your kids understand the damage done. I count myself as lucky, but even today, almost 30 years old, far removed from the lunch bells, cubbie holes, and P.E., I still have memories, memories that hurt. It shapes who I am today, and guides every decision that I make. I try everyday to include, not exclude. I survived, but growing up shouldn't be about surviving, especially in society today where we have so many luxuries. Maybe we just need to remember. If you need someone to talk to, I'm here, financial.freedumb [at] gmail.com. If you need more information, here's a start...American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry - Children and Depression. There's tons out there though. If you want to contribute to the cause...Here are a few organizations that you might be interested in tolerance.org or bullypolice.org. Finally, sign the Federal Anti-Bullying Laws Petition.