Monday, April 23, 2007

Not My Child

For the past week, the news coverage has been about the massacre at Virginia Tech. I hate to admit it, but I feel almost numb towards the situation. It's not that I don't feel sorrow and sympathy towards the people who were directly affected by this tragedy - I do... but there have been so many massacres over the past decade... it just doesn't surprise me any more.

One thing that seems to be hitting home, however, is that one reason that always seems to be coming up is how the perpetrator always seems to have been teased. They were an outcast. They didn't fit in. Often times it started early. Sometimes it continued their whole lives. One of the reasons these tragedies happen is because of a little harmless teasing.

Since The Princess has started school, I have been struggling with this very issue. It's harmless, I'm told. All kids get teased about something, I hear. Teasing is a part of childhood, I'm advised, tell her to get used to it.

When is teasing harmless, and when does teasing cross the line? Keys To Safer Schools defines teasing as follows:

It is Teasing only if both parties know it is teasing.
Teasing is not about Power, Ridicule or Control.
Teasing does not involve Pain (physical or emotional).

Otherwise it is bullying and should not be accepted by the parents, school or the students.

Why must we teach our children that being teased (or bullied) is just a part of life? Don't let it bother you. Be a duck. Oh, they didn't mean it. Be tough. JUST IGNORE IT.

When your child is being victimized, what do you do? Tell them to tough it out? Or intervene? And when you do intervene, are you faced with a parent who insists that it's harmless?

Maybe it should be harmless. Maybe in some cases it IS harmless. But sometimes it isn't.

Is teasing the only reason for these tragedies? Of course not. There are many factors that can play a role. But for me, I want the teasing to stop. I don't want my child to become a victim because she chose to torment somebody else. I don't want my child to seek revenge because she was picked on.

If stopping the teasing and bullying is a way to possibly prevent ONE tragedy from happening, I am going to do everything in my power to prevent it.

Not MY child.


Blogger dubby said...

As difficult as it is to have a child come home in tears from being teased, I find rare the child that doesn't participate in teasing others as well. It is unfortunately a part of human nature and strongly supported by television programs that children watch. Teachers and caregivers cannot be around 24/7 monitoring every word between children. And if they do micromanage, they will find that the instant they are out of earshot, it will hit only worse. It is important that children be taught not to tease (or bully!), but it is equally important that children be taught not to let it get to them.

That said, as much as it hurts, teasing isn't the reason people such as Cho blow. It adds fuel to the fire, but apparently this fire started at birth as an inborn personality trait. The tragedy is that all these years, nobody really recognized it or was able to help him. Not EVERYbody teased him. And not everything he took at teasing was meant to be. I dare say some good-natured kidding around at the college level he took the wrong way because his "wiring" was so out of kilter. He had lots of people that really tried to reach out to him over the years, but didn't know how. Even with our 20/20, I don't know what they could have done better.

I see Cho as the 33rd victim, not because he was teased, but because he never learned the meaning of happiness or joy or love or friendship. He was the loneliest person I ever heard of. He was miserable and never understood why. I appreciate even more the love I have for my friends and family and the strengths that they give me to get through hard times. Cho never had that. He blamed the teasing, but his inability to love others was the real problem. He was the greatest victim of them all.

5:26 AM  

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