According to the Journal of American Medicine Association (JAMA) Pediatrics Network, approximately 80 percent of young people who commit suicide do so due to bullying and related problems. Sometimes it is evident the child is having problems. Sometimes they hold it all in until that fatal day they decide to end their life because no one thought it was worth saving.
As adults, we might be able to stand criticizing, ridiculing, and harassment; but as a young person, it can be extremely hard to ignore hurtful words and actions.
What the bully doesn’t know
If you’re inside the mind of a bully, you might see plenty of good bullying candidates. Sadly, bullies notice their prey easily.
Take little Bobby. He is always sitting by himself during lunch and never spends time with others. He doesn’t turn in his homework and doesn’t seem to be alert in class. Looks like he is a great candidate for bullying. What the bully doesn’t know: Bobby’s mother is in the hospital with cancer and it doesn’t look good for her.
How about Judy? She never looks cool like the other kids. Her clothes never match and she wears the same clothing all the time…sometimes days in a row. Let’s bully her. What the bully doesn’t know: I heard that last night her Dad come home drunk and beat her mother up. This happens often at her house.
Jerry would be a good person to bully. He is a mess all the time. He brings stupid stuff to school for lunch and always eats alone. He always looks like he is on the verge of crying – big ball baby. He would be easy to bully. What the bully doesn’t know: Jerry’s father lost his job about four months ago and is unable to find work. He is doing odd jobs when he can find them, but that’s not very often. Feeding the family isn’t easy. Jerry’s mother gives him what she can find for his lunch.
Cyber bullying is easy. You don’t have to confront your victim face-to-face. The iSafe Foundation reported that about 53 percent of children have said something that was mean or hurtful to someone else online.
Troy would be fun to bully. He tries to act like he is a tough guy, but I can tell that he is afraid of himself! Bullying would show him to be the chicken he is. Then we would feel good knowing that the rest of the school knew who he really is. What the bully doesn’t know: Troy’s dad was just sent to prison for the next ten years. Troy is unhappy that his dad won’t be there, but with his dad in prison he won’t be able to beat Troy up all the time.
Mary is a good candidate to bully. She wears clothes that look like she found them at the second-hand store. And most of the time they are dirty. She smells bad and her hair is always a mess. Everyone would enjoy us bullying her. What the bully doesn’t know: Mary’s mother drinks all day long. When Mary gets home from school her mother is passed out on the couch and doesn’t wake up until Mary is in her bed. If she does wake up before Mary makes her own dinner and goes to bed, she just yells at Mary about the dishes and continues drinking.
Well, maybe there’s nobody that deserves bullying today.
It is so important to teach our children that everyone has a story and some of these stories are far worse than sad. We need to teach our children by example. When that car cuts you off, don’t catch up and throw them a bird. Their story might be that they are on the way to the hospital because their son or daughter was hurt in a car accident, and they are not thinking straight because they are so afraid.
Maybe like the examples above, there are reasons why people don’t seem to fit in, why they always look sad, or ragged, or seem to do things that are not normal. Sometimes they have a valid reason. You never know what kind of life they are living: if their mother is a drunk; if their father hits them; if their family is very poor.
My day is lifted up when a stranger smiles at me when I am walking or driving. I may not have a smile on my face at the time, but when I see theirs, then I do. It actually changes my entire day for the good.
I wave at several people as I drive to work. They sit on their front porch in the mornings. For so long, no one waved back. But after I continued to wave, they all wave back now. They brighten my day by waving back at me, and I know I have brightened their day and let them know someone cares at least enough to wave to them. Just think…..you can be a good lesson for your kids and make someone’s day with just a smile. Maybe I’ll be the one to see that smile, and my day will be better. Maybe it will be little Judy….or Troy…. or Jerry. Maybe you will even keep them from suicide by showing you care. I hope you do.