We Must Discuss School Shootings with our Tweens and Teens
If we can’t get kids to stop bullying because it’s the right thing to do (which we clearly can’t, because I am still being emailed daily, called daily and reading horrifying stories in the news daily about bullied kids killing themselves or others) then we need to take a different approach. We need to get them to stop bullying because their life or their best friend’s life or their brother or sister’s life may depend on it.
The details of the Ohio school shooting are coming in slowly. However the word “bully” was quickly attached to this story. The school is saying bullying did not play a part in this shooting. That this child was “not right.” That is was a random shooting.
The students tell a different story. The latest information reported by ABC News is that the school shooter, T.J. Lane, intentionally went after one of the boys who was his ex-girlfriend’s new boyfriend. The new boyfriend allegedly made derogatory remarks about T.J. and said he was going to beat him up. This had been going on for quite some time. Students say T.J. spent months lifting weights so that he could fight the boyfriend. If only it had ended like in the movies with a play yard brawl after school.
Whatever the real story, it is a reminder that we cannot get lazy when it comes to bullying.
Harassment and bullying have been linked to 75% of school shooting incidents, including the fatal shootings at Columbine High School near Littleton, Colorado and Santana High School in Santee, California.
While we would like our children to be nice to others because it’s the right thing to do, being nice for safety is a conversation that shouldn’t be ignored. Upon hearing of the Ohio shooting my son said, “And this is why I am nice to everyone.” He wasn’t kidding or making light of the situation. He was very serious.
Bullying “isn’t just a thing kids do,” as one commenter wrote on a past post. It is something we continue to allow them do. We get lazy in our discussions. Schools get lazy in their implementation of programs and discussions. Bullying needs to be an ongoing conversation both at home and at school.
Joey shared his story on Ooph, Growing Up Gay. The story he shared landed him on Oprah. It is a must read.
How We Can Stop Bullying
Schools should hold assemblies at least once a semester or trimester to address the affects of bullying and remind students that their responsibility is to not bully and protect those being bullied.
Schools should provide an anonymous system in which a student can report bullying. We all know how hard it is to tell on other students in school. This prevents kids from stepping in. Provide a place where they can do it without fear of being ostracized or bullied themselves.
Talk to your kids at home. Often. Try and make them realize what it feels like to be bullied. Drive it home. Say things like, “Imagine if every day you went to school and someone met you upon arrival and they called you hateful names while others laughed at you. And then every time the bell rang in between classes that same kid or group of kids waited for you and said more mean things to you. At lunchtime you are made fun of and sit by yourself. Imagine how awful and hopeless that would feel. Imagine looking around to see if anyone is coming to help you or stand up for you only to find time after time that no one cares.”
Ask your children if they know of anyone being bullied. Assure them that if they come to you, you will notify the proper people without involving their name.
Discuss suicide and school shootings with your kids. Make sure they understand the severity of bullying. I realize this is scary, but it could save their life.
There are plenty of stories of bullying that have been shared here on Ooph. I am passionate about this topic. If you are interested in reading some of them type bullying into the search box to the left. If you would like to submit a story yourself, please email it to stefanie(at)ooph(dot)com.
A very interesting read and one I recommend to parents is this post, A Peak Inside the Mind of Bullies, by Jeffery Leiken.