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Have you noticed that the terrible epidemic of bullying seems to be growing by leaps and bounds lately? Just look at the many violent and unkind acts committed against people who are much weaker than their aggressor. From Mike Brown, to Ray & Janay Rice, to certain reality television shows, children & adults, bullying behavior is continuously being exposed at alarming rates. And now, Lamar Hawkins. His mother believes this young man committed suicide because he was bullied.
The culture of bullying runs rampant, even in the media and it’s disguised as entertainment. Shows such as Love and Hip Hop regularly showcase fights among the cast members. Viewers eagerly watch every week, salaciously entertained by bully behavior. When did we become so enthralled by violent behavior and victimization? Why has watching others in pain become a favorite pastime? Even in social media, I see a growing number of shared videos that include; fighting teens, parents yelling & degrading their children, adults hitting other adults, etc. Even posting unflattering pictures of people with physical issues & poking fun at deformities is a form of bullying. And, sadly it is rampant in the age of “catch-everything-on-video-for-a- laugh.” It seems as if people are always waiting for an opportunity to film foolishness in action, no matter who it hurts.
If someone of a specific class in regards to race, sexual orientation, or a disability is bullied, it is considered a hate crime. But it’s my belief that ALL bullying, no matter who it is, is a form of hate. Hatred of self and others. I cringe when I watch unwarranted fighting & I cry when I hear that another innocent victim has been brutalized and worse, killed by the police. In my opinion, bullies are people that have absolutely no self-control over their emotions. So they choose to hurt people instead.
Here are a few facts about bullying.
* Bullying is abusive social interaction between peers which can include aggression, harassment, and violence. Bullying is typically repetitive and enacted by those who are in a position of power over the victim. A growing body of research illustrates a significant relationship between bullying and emotional intelligence.
* A bully may project his/her own feelings of vulnerability onto the target(s) of the bullying activity. Despite the fact that a bully’s typically denigrating activities are aimed at the bully’s targets, the true source of such negativity is ultimately almost always found in the bully’s own sense of personal insecurity and/ or vulnerability.
* There is evidence that bullying increases the risk of suicide. It is estimated that between 15 and 25 children commit suicide every year in the UK alone, because they are being bullied.
* Research shows that (bullying) interventions are much more successful when they are carried out among young children in preschools and primary schools. This is a good reason to begin with this age group.
I am no expert, but as a person who has experienced bullying, I have three suggestions:
1. Stop bullying before it starts. Teach children (starting early) how to gain self-control over their emotions. Negative emotions will come, but there is a way to process them without bringing harm to themselves or others. Being able to effectively & safely communicate their thoughts in a welcoming environment allows children to process their pain & feelings in a healthy manner. This will most likely eliminate acting out.
2. Adults, own up to your problems/issues. Adults need to practice what I like to call, ‘owning up’. Owning up to their issues, weaknesses and negative inclinations. You cannot heal what you don’t reveal. Getting honest about your problems and seeking appropriate help will allow for growth and positive change. When people feel ‘out of control’, they tend to act out in other ways. There is a healthy way to communicate your fears, insecurities & problems without hurting someone else or yourself. No one should have enough power to provoke another to the point of reacting in a violent manner, whether verbal or physical.
3. Practice LOVE. Love is the answer to many issues. Love is the opposite of fear. Love is also an action word & it starts with yourself. Mostly everyone has been taught the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Which is based on one of my favorite scriptures from the Bible, Love your neighbor as yourself (Lev 19:18)… But how can a person live by this rule if they don’t even like themselves? Learning valuable principles of self-love, self-care and how to truly be kind to yourself will eliminate much pain and the desire to harm others. Not everyone grows up in a loving atmosphere, but you can absolutely relearn and reprogram your mindset. If you happen to be near children whose environments aren’t so loving, reach out. Extend yourself to be a mentor, a listening ear, or even just a hug. Children and adults blossom when there is genuine love present. And you can be a vehicle for that.
Also, be mindful of what you are saying about others. Is it helpful or kind? It’s fun to laugh, but it’s not good to laugh at someone else’s pain. Think before you hit share. I could say so much more about bullying, but I will leave it at this for now. If you have ever been bullied, you understand the agony it can bring. The bullying culture helps no one, it only hinders. Let’s do what we can to stop the cycle! Here is an excellent website for more information on stopping bullying.
Watch the story about Lamar Hawkins here.