Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Whatever shall we do with the Bully?

We have all heard the story of Phoebe Prince in Hadley Massachusetts. I have discussed this case in the two previous posts. After reviewing several comments that followed the news articles it is apparent that people are outraged by what happened to this poor girl. As well they should be. However, many of these posts are almost literally calling for the blood of the six teenagers that are charged with bullying Phoebe. What pains me in this situation is that there are no winners. Certainly Phoebe’s life is gone forever and the six teens charged with bullying her are looking forward to a very difficult life.

So, I wasn’t surprised today to find out that Austin Renaud, one of the boys charged with the statutory rape of Phoebe, was arrested on Sunday morning (April 19) for drunk driving. Obviously, this boy is troubled. Perhaps by his treatment of Phoebe or perhaps there is some other demon that is haunting him. Who knows? One thing is clear; this young man’s life is very close to being ruined, as are the lives of the other teens involved. And this is not unusual. According to a survey funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), “bullies were more likely to be involved in other problem behaviors, such as smoking and drinking alcohol, and to do more poorly academically”.

But let’s put all these bullies away. Let’s make a law so that other bullies don’t do this to someone else. They are only getting what is coming to them. But, I tell you this, no one that is this young has this much trouble coming to them. All of these teens should be enjoying their final days of High School, not defending themselves in a court of law.

The fault lies in all of us. The adults. We are so willing to make a law after the fact, but unwilling to step in when it is really necessary and stop these children from making such dreadful mistakes before someone gets hurt. The fault lies in a school system that didn’t protect these kids and teach them other ways to solve problems. The fault lies in parents that did not school their children in morality and proper conduct. The fault lies in not-so-innocent bystanders that allowed this bullying to go on without stepping up to the bullies and tell them that this sort of behavior is inappropriate and will not be tolerated. The fault lies in an age where access is given to the most intimate of electronic devices (computers & cell phones) without teaching the users the proper method and etiquette that should be maintained. The fault lies in churches that are so insistent on becoming imbedded in our political system that they ignore the moral obligations before them to teach these children that the greatest love all is to recognize the divinity that resides in each one of us.

We are the ones that have failed because all these children did is to show that left untended we humans will sink down to our lowest common denominator. Without a nurturing guidance from the adults present none of us would have developed a conscience and understood that no one person is better than another. No one deserves to be treated like an animal. No one deserves to be hounded incessantly day and night until the only way to silence the cacophony is to take your own life.

We must start now to change things for the all the children. The bullies, the targets and the bystanders. We must teach them that to attain real power is to be in service to our fellow humans, to love diversity and to accept those that are different from us. Whatever shall we do with the bully? Why can’t we love and nurture them before they become bullies and victims?

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