Monday, 15 April 2013

Hug your children, give them hope

My mind has been wrapped up with the Rehtaeh Parsons story this week.  No matter where you live in the world you’ve likely heard the story, it’s made international news. Her story breaks my heart. I do have some hope that justice will prevail. What makes me most sad however, was the incessant bullying and taunting she endured. I can only imagine how despondent she felt when her fellow students and so called friends participated in and prolonged the abuse.
I don’t want to paint all young people with the same brush. I’m betting the majority are pretty darned good kids, in fact I’m counting on it.
When I was a child, the stereotypical bully was the hulk of a boy who used physical intimidation and ridicule to make himself look superior. For me the bully came in the form of the pretty rich girl who teased and made fun of how I looked and what I did. It wasn’t just me she bullied but some days it seemed that way. There were others who teased and joked at my expense and when I reacted, accused me of not being able to take a joke or they excused it by saying they were just kidding. It was hurtful and may have had some lasting effects. I remember the teenage angst, the embarrassment and some days thinking I just wanted to die. But I muddled through with the support of some good friends and mentors and never lost hope. Like most young people, all I wanted was to fit in and be loved.
I am no angel, I confess I have been cowardly, have ridiculed or judged others behind their back. I do my very best not to say something hurtful to another or make a joke at another’s expense. Living by the golden rule is something I strive for and yes, some days I fail. I still run into the occasional adult bully hiding behind the same old excuses. Shame on them. 

Today, bullying has been ratcheted up several notches. It’s not just the mean girls anymore, social media has widened the scope exponentially. We can feel helpless, even hopeless. But let’s not wallow in that hopelessness, let’s strive to make change. Let each of us make a commitment to live by the golden rule, to treat others as we want to be treated. Let’s not remain silent when we see abuse. Parents, please be vigilant, know what your children are doing and experiencing in their lives. Talk to your children about consequences.  Love them, hug them and tell them no one has the right to bully and abuse them. Don’t let Rehtaeh and Amanda Todd & Jamie Hubley have died in vain. 
Please remember, just because everyone is laughing, doesn’t mean it’s funny.

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