We all know that what every soap opera has is a hometown bully or two. The vast majority of people who watch the soaps know that what they are watching is fictitious, but what’s a teenager to do when the life they lead closely resembles a story written for a soap opera?
For them, the bullying dished out to them is very real. They get up in the morning, go to school and get picked on, beat up, abused - verbally, physically, mentally and sometimes sexually, all in a day’s work for a bully.
Most of which was a fact of life for a lot of us growing up, but when I was a kid you went to school, got picked on, nobody touched you without a teacher becoming involved and you went home, free of it for the night. The bully didn’t have access to you once you were home. And with limited phone time and a parent sitting there the bully certainly wasn’t brave enough to call you at home to continue the torment.
These days there is no such thing as ‘home free’ with the electronic world we live in. Many learn to use a computer and a cell phone long before they’ve been toilet trained and once school starts, many go to school attached to a cell phone - that may or may not be attached to the internet. All of which gives parents a sense of relief to be able to quickly reach or be reached by their son or daughter, but it also gives bullies more access to harassing them. And since the vast majority go home alone that harassment follows them, making some down time next to impossible, but what’s a parent to do?
Should parents be tuned in non-electronically to their child to know whether they are being bullied or are the bully? And should they be teaching the social skills needed to prevent or deal with being bullied or being the bully? Should we, as a society, be standing up and saying enough is enough? Should the hands of our teachers and principals be untied so they can deal with bullying first-hand? Absolutely.
Should parents be taking cell phones away or giving limited access until their child has learned the skills needed to stand up to a bully? Or only allow internet use when the parent is home to monitor them? I don’t know. But I do believe that something needs to be done before it’s too late to save somebody’s child from turning to the life of a criminal, or ending the precious life God gave them because they see no other way out.