Wednesday, February 2, 2011

We have to teach that?

I've mentioned before I write for a local monthly magazine and usually scramble for a topic a few days after the deadline.  Occasionally, something will strike me in church or at work and I'll do some research surrounding the topic. But that's rare.

This week, however, I've spent a lot of time listening to media coverage surrounding bullying. Seriously listened to hours of news coverage of the "mean girls," online harassment, beatings and suicides that have happened recently.  It's baffling, confusing and incomprehensible what kids are doing to kids.

I kind of debate with myself different angles - like are kids REALLY that much worse than when I was in school, or were we raised to be a little tougher? Are kids less confident and more susceptible to suicidal thoughts from peer pressure and criticism? Or are kids truly meaner, more evil, more angry, and more apt to jump another kid in a wolf pack mentality and literally try to kill each other.. over a text message?

I don't know the answer. I tried to do some research on the stats, but I don't think half the people reporting stats know what they are talking about since I keep getting conflicting info. But one comment made by a college official after one of their students committed suicide after being harassed really stuck out in my mind. He said - they have to teach civility to students at his college.

Seriously. Teach civility. Wow. That's just down right scary.

But then I remember a lecture from college (it's a miracle - I remember a lecture from college!), where the professor described the learning process for children in China. (I believe it was China). Small children are not disciplined for poor behavior. The children are expected to see that adults are not behaving like them and end up modeling their behavior after the adults. And this has worked in Chinese culture for centuries.

With this in mind, I question where our children are learning, or maybe NOT learning, their lessons in civility. From adults? And yes, I would have to say manners, etiquette, good will, common decency - many of these attributes have fallen by the wayside.

I'm sure a lot of factors play important roles into the bullying issues and the horrible rise of teen suicides after being harassed by students.  But the bottom line is this:  one child being teased and taunted to beyond the breaking point is unacceptable.  Unacceptable.

So I'm challenging readers to think of ways we can become good examples again, we can bring back common decency to our fellow man, we can exhibit manners and etiquette to each other. Not just in times of crisis - that tends to bring out good in people. But in everyday life. ... are you acting in a manner you want your children to mimic? I know I have things I need to change, (let's not talk about road rage...) so I hope you'll join me for this journey in improvement.

On a totally separate note: I must look really rough tonight.  I know I feel rough thanks to this cough; therefore I'm doping myself up and going to bed. And I will not sleep text tonight to friends who, I'm sure, can't make heads or tails out of my messages last night. :)

Sweet dreams, friends!

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