OPINION – In my youth I was the victim of bullying. I doubt there is an individual alive who, at one point or another, has not been a victim of bullying. This victimization can happen in childhood on the schoolyard. It can happen as an adult in the workplace. Bullying has reached a point at which I feel it is epidemic.
Statistics from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children show that each day in America approximately 160,000 students refuse to go to school because they dread the physical and verbal aggression of their peers and many more attend school but are in a chronic state of anxiety and depression. Often the effects of bullying continue into adulthood. .
One of the reasons I wrote the Legend of the Bully Slayer series was to call attention to this problem. More importantly, however, I wanted kids to know through the characters in my book that everyone gets bullied and they are not alone, that it is not their fault they’re being victimized, and – the most critical point – that it’s OK to be who you are.
Society, through various means, has created an atmosphere where if you don’t fit in, or dare to stand out, you are to be ridiculed or not taken seriously. But where would we be without people who dared to challenge the norm? DaVinci may never have picked up a brush; the Wright Brothers may not have dared to fly; and we most certainly would have never found out that a Dr. Seuss dreams of “Cats in Hats” and “Green Eggs and Ham.”
Recently I was asked by a father to come and speak to his elementary school-aged son. I was told that they had found him in the bathroom where he had cut himself, with a straight shaving razor. I was also told that he was not telling them what was going on.
I arrived and spoke to the boy. After building a report, he told me that on the playground earlier that day, he had been teased about the amount of hair he had on his arms. He had come home, and attempted to shave the hair off. However, having never used a razor before, he had cut himself in his attempt. He informed me he did not want to tell his parents what had gone on because he was embarrassed he had been caught, and was embarrassed about who he is.
My counsel to the parents was to embrace him, let him know that he doesn’t have to be embarrassed to tell them anything. Perhaps tell him a time when they too felt embarrassed and what they learned from it. Then, to find an activity, or hobby that he enjoyed and encourage growth in that area. Giving him a base where he feels that he is good at something is the first step to restoring self-confidence and image. It also might, depending on the activity, foster friends with mutual interests.
I am excited to team with St. George News on this column, and hope that you will share experiences, and or stories of bullying with us, so that we may learn and grow together, figuring out the best way to combat this epidemic! Email me, “Like” me on Facebook, Tweet us.
Ed. Note: T.S. Romney is an opinion columnist and a law enforcement officer. Nothing in this column shall be construed as legal advice, as a substitute for professional mental health treatment, as an adjudication of claims, or as acting on behalf of any law enforcement department. T.S. Romney’s opinions and methods are his own and are not representative of St. George News.
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