Photo: katinalynn/Creative Commons
I’m going to talk about a subject that I normally wouldn’t address here, but I feel like I have to use this space to say what’s on my mind a little bit too.
Last week, a young girl from the Kasson-Mantorville area, was bullied to the point where she took her own life. Her name was Rachel Ehmke. I had heard about this story earlier this week, but didn’t want to post about it at the time. I didn’t because I didn’t feel as though my voice would matter. As the week has gone by, this story, and many others just like this in Minnesota, moved me to say something.
I feel bad, and mad all at the same time. For her, and all of the other kids who have decided that this was the best way to end their ordeals with bullies.
Unfortunately, bullying happens in schools and in workplaces throughout the country, and it’s really starting to make me wonder what is going on.
It happens in person, behind backs, and online.
I think a lot of us go back to our childhood and can say that at one point or another we were bullied.
I was. I’ve talked about some of it on this blog before. Some of it, I haven’t told anyone.
I know many of my friends had similar experiences. I remember many times my mom telling me that life would get better after high school and you could leave it all behind. The thing is, when your in school, graduating from school seems like a lifetime away.
I feel like bullying has changed from when we were kids. This is no longer kids being kids.
- 13 percent of Minnesota 6th, 9th and 12th graders are bullied regularly (e.g. once a week or more) according to a 2011 study by the Minnesota Departments of Health and Education. This means that over 100,000 students report being bullied at least once a week.
- Nationwide, more than 3.2 million children in grades six through ten are victims of bullies each year, while 3.7 million bully other children, according to a report by Fight Crime: Invest in Kids.
- 42 percent of children have been bullied while online, according to Pacer Center.
- 160,000 children miss school every day because of intimidation by other students. (Pacer Center, Bullying Fast Facts.)
- Fight Crime: Invest in Kids reports that kids who are bullied are five times more likely to be depressed.
** Statistics are from the press release from Lori Swanson’s office on the bullying legislation
Last year, Lori Swanson, the Attorney General in Minnesota called for legislation to address school bullying. According to the press release at the time, “The bill proposed by Attorney General Swanson is patterned after a bill that passed the North Dakota Legislature on a bipartisan basis earlier this year. The North Dakota legislation has been given an “A++” rating by the national website: www.bullypolice.org. Minnesota’s current bullying law has been given a grade of “C-” by the same website, which is the lowest ranking of any state with the exception of three states that have no laws.
While I applaud the effort as it is a step in the right direction, I still feel as though we need to dig deeper and address this at a lower level.
To the bully’s – Here’s the deal. Being bullied stays with you forever. Imagine if someone was treating you this way. I suppose it’s a survival instinct. You feel like you have to bully someone else, or you’ll be the one that’s bullied.
I think that’s a lame excuse. See, being bullied causes a scar in you that never goes away. There are cool people out there who don’t have to rely on being a bully in order to have a great group of friends. Just because someone else is doing it, doesn’t mean that you have to. In fact, if you were a stand up person, or want to be one when you grow up, it’s on you to say something to stop it.
To someone who is being bullied – Unfortunately, some people are not nice in school. I can’t describe in words to you how your life is going to change after high school. I know that it seems like a long ways off, so instead of telling you what my mom tried to do, I’m going to encourage you to talk with someone. If school officials and all parents are on the same page, things can change. Bullying affects us in different ways. You may lose sleep or feel sick – I know there were many days I felt ill, simply because I didn’t want to face the things I knew I was going to at school. You may want to skip school – I tried to once. My parents came home at lunch looking for me because I failed to show up for school. After talking with my teachers and my parents, I knew that because of the supportive people around me, I at least had someone who had my back.
To the parents – If someone tells you that your kid is being bullied – get involved. If someone tells you that your kid is the bully – You had better act on it. It is our responsibility as parents and adults to stop bullying. If someone tells you that your kid IS the bully, don’t just sweep it under the rug and say that’s just “kids being kids”. Guess what, it’s not. Can you imagine the pain that is being felt by these families and these kids that are going through this? It’s wrong, and if we don’t stand up, it’s only going to get worse.
In Rachel’s case, her parents knew and so did the school. They tried to stop it. In other cases that have been reported, parents didn’t know. If you are feeling hopeless or helpless or know someone that is, please call theLIFELINE at 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
It’s doesn’t have to be this way.
Two thought’s for today:
1. How can we get our kids to understand that they can talk to their parents or someone who they can trust when something isn’t right?
2. What are we going to do as a generation, to make sure that bullying stops?
I’m tired of shaking my head when I hear about bullying and the affect it is having on our kids. This isn’t right.
I’m attaching a link to the Stop Bullying website. There’s a treasure trove of information there. It’s a federal government website managed by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. Also, visit thebullyproject.com for more information. I was looking around their site and there’s toolkits for parents, kids and educators.
Parents talk to your schools about their policies on bullying. Don’t be silent.
What are we going to do?
Be the difference.