I, like many others was saddened and sickened by the death of local teenager, Amanda Todd last week.
Whenever things like this happen I think about my own kids. I think about how innocent and precious they are and I can’t imagine anyone wanting to hurt them. On the other hand, I also can’t fathom either of them deliberately hurting others – either physically or with words. I can’t imagine the pain that Amanda’s parents are going through, nor the way the parents of her tormentors must feel. I’ve read comments saying the people who were bullying Amanda must have come from homes where parents set bad examples. Surely, kids who would participate in this kind of behavior don’t come from “nice” families, right?
Yes, it’s true that children learn by way of example and that it is our job as parents to set this example. But for every bully out there, is there really a parent who’s modelling awful behavior for their child at home? I’m not sure I think this is the case. Kids gang up on other kids for many reasons other than “…it’s what they learned at home.” Pack-mentality, boredom, lack of empathy…oh, and don’t forget to blame the internet. Some kids…and maybe I’ll get into trouble for saying this…are just mean. I’ve seen it already at school and on the playground…
I do believe that as parents we need to be doing a better job of teaching empathy and kindness to our kids – which is challenging in a world where it is so hard for our voices to be heard above all the noise out there – but this is the job we all signed up for…and it does take a village. We need to teach our children that bullying, like doing drugs, like drinking and driving, like date rape…is not OK. And there needs to be serious consequences, which is why I hope our government takes action to create legislation that will not allow for victims like Amanda to go without justice.
When I heard Amanda’s story I was heartbroken for the loss of such a young and beautiful girl who had barely begun to live. I also wondered what the parents of the kids who were her aggressors must have felt. Because of the nature and anonymity of cyber-bullying – it is likely these parents did not even know what their children were up to…it’s likely some of them never will.
This scares me.
I certainly hope that my children are never bullied…I’m pretty sure most parents have this hope. However, I think I would be just as upset to find out that my children were doing the bullying. I do my best to set a good example, to foster a loving and positive environment where I hope they develop strong self-confidence and empathy for others. But, will it be enough?
What are your thoughts? Is bullying learned? Does the thought that your child could be an aggressor scare you as much as the thought of them being a victim?