Letter: Bullying must stop at home
Gloucester tragically lost another one of its youth to suicide last week. At the memorial service, a disturbing statistic was declared that Gloucester County endures more suicides than Virginia Beach.
Bullying is believed to have played a large part of this tortured child’s death. Loud cries of holding the schools and the local elected officials accountable to ‘do something’ were put forth.
It is understandable to want to place blame and disperse anger, but consideration should be given to what the role of government actually is. Our schools’ purpose is to teach; law enforcement to enforce laws.
It is commendable that our schools and sheriff’s office have focused resources to counsel and protect our youth, but anti-bullying campaigns need to begin at home with the child’s first and primary teachers, their parents. It doesn’t always work this way, but it is the parents’ responsibility to model and teach kindness, the Golden Rule, and to instill the value of life being precious and worthy regardless of appearance, athletic ability, popularity or any number of the shallow, changeable qualities that many youth and adults evaluate others by.
It is the parents’ responsibility to teach that there is absolutely no gain from minimizing, taunting, shunning, publically embarrassing and promoting another person’s weaknesses. We are all vulnerable and need to encourage, love and help one another. We need to teach the more sensitive among us how to handle bullying. The answer is not to reactively seek punishment of another’s bad behavior, but to understand that the bully-er is the one who is lacking. Cowards take strength in groups and mob-like behavior is generally very bad, irrational, and it is easy for one vulnerable person to become utterly hopeless and helpless to deflect harm.
It is every adult’s responsibility to proactively listen wholeheartedly and communicate with our youth to lay the foundation and safety net that many will need when trouble comes. Kids don’t have the perspective, wisdom or emotional strength to bear the burden alone. Bullying must stop at home.
Lorraine M. Walsh