As though parenting weren’t challenging enough, the age-old dilemma of school yard bullying has taken to the internet and that expansion is yielding some tragic results. In Massachusetts this past week, the State Legislature was about to water down yet another round of proposed laws regarding school policy towards, and around, bullying.
I am loathe to ever wish for more laws and increased government intervention in anything where some common sense and civilian input might work better. Yet, I wonder if we are not witness to a change here that begs for some kind of intervention.
There has been a spate of teen-suicides in Massachusetts, and every other state for that matter, in just the last several months. I simply can’t imagine, as a parent myself, how you recover from losing a child to such a senseless, merciless, and almost invisible, villain. Like many of us, at 52, I grew up in a simpler time. Most boys I know, including me, figured out early on that, like prison, it was important to establish yourself as not available for teasing. Any lingering questions regarding the pecking order would likely be settled with a bloody lip or black eye. Then…the problem went away.
We all remember, too, how cruel other children can be as they navigate their way through those awkward years, where allegiances to friends have led from the inconsequential all the way to participating in homicides together. How strong that pressure can be. Evidenced in the wake of a recent suicide in Massachusetts, a young girl who came here from Ireland, for whom even after her death, the assaults continued to come on Facebook as heartless posts continued to pop up. Think about that.
Hence, we have entered a new age in bullying. It isn’t left at the school yard anymore, it follows you home by virtue of texting and the internet and any of a myriad of social networking sites that are barely monitored, if at all. That new element seems to be taking a toll. And it is interesting to hear usually silent voices in Massachusetts politics speaking up and actually sounding…gulp…outraged. A little late to the party, in my opinion.
Where have these people been, year after year, as Jessica’s Law or any version of it gets roundly rejected with the regularity of sunrise? It is odd, that this issue strikes such a chord, and yet the notion of making a solid effort to keep even known violent child sexual predators off of the streets is as popular as tuberculosis.
How about the adult workplace? My goodness…we protect our adults with the vigor of Secret Service Agents covering the President. Don’t remark on a co-workers hair, or touch a shoulder, because a reprimand or legal action will be as swift as the Colorado River. Children, though, the most vulnerable and silent minority in the country, scream into the wind for even the slightest of protections that a civilized society should provide without provocation.
I wrote here last week about the issue of marriage and how it should be defined. It is always a hot button issue, and people will write and email and are passionate about the subject. Whether we agree or disagree, I appreciate anyone who feels strongly enough about something that they would take the time to sit and write anything. For the gay and lesbian community there is never a shortage of articulate and intelligent people ready, willing and able to defend their position and put forth their case, and to fight for those rights that they feel they are being shorted. Children, of course, have no such podium or anyone to stand at it amongst their own ranks. They must rely on adults to do that for them.