Tuesday, July 13, 2010


Kids bully other kids. Ugly, sad scenes, tragic events -- suicides are happening more frequently.

The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that nationwide, 160,000 kids stay home from school because they are afraid of being bullied.

Researchers at the Yale School of Medicine, in a new review of studies from 13 countries, say there is an apparent connection between being bullied and suicide.

In Massachusetts -- after Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover, an 11-year-old, hung himself after being tormented for being gay, and Phoebe Prince, a15-year-old, hanged herself after weeks of harassment by fellow students -- lawmakers are finally saying “No more."

Massachusetts now has a tough new law that forces schools to pay attention to ALL complaints from students about other students calling them names, texting about them, or name-calling, rumor-mongering on the internet.

Will it work? Is it just another red tape routine for the overworked teachers? Forty-one states have laws against bullying and Congress is debating various federal versions.

But how do we stop the barrage of examples -- the bullying that's in ads, Rodger Rabbit cartoons, sitcoms, and films? --How can we stop kids from imitating us, and creating a world of good guys/bad guys, where bad is fun, and exciting, and good is boring?

I think laws against bullying will create more bullying. Laws against smoking, alcohol, drunk-driving, and unprotected sex obviously inspire kids to smoke, get drunk, and have sex without condoms -- do whatever is forbidden.

Why can't it be part of the curriculum? Like prayers, and pledge allegiance to the flag -- something that's worked on every day?

Group talk -- kids telling the stories of suicides, discussing the "heroic bullies" in specific cartoons, or films -- a class where each child comments, where kids vote on what they saw -- was it fun, or awfully sad -- "yay" or "nay."

What's bad about bullying has to be tackled and taught in Sunday School and every school day (maybe at meal time like a vitamin).

Kids learn to say please , thank you, and may I? Why not have a Tell the Truth Tactfully time, when kids practice describing a kid with pimples, or someone who picks his nose in public, or a kid with body odor?

There's been a lot of talk about paying kids for learning, paying them for doing their homework. Why not pay kids for NO texting, phone-chats, e-mails -- NO MORE cruel rumors amongst friends.

It's everywhere -- gossip, gossip -- who-did-what-to-whom-with-whom headlines -- maybe we should be paying kids to be wiser than their parents.
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