Yet another young man has taken his life after being bullied.
14-year-old Kenneth Weishaun, Jr. of Sioux City, Iowa died on April 15 after suffering "intense harassment". An Iowa newspaper decided enough is enough and they dedicated an entire front page to a call to action.
An opinion piece never makes the front page of a newspaper, but the subject is so important, that The Sioux City Journal printed the editorial on the front page. The headline reads, "OUR OPINION. We must stop bullying. It starts here. And it starts now."
A young friend of a friend posted this comment on his Facebook page the other day: "Some people need to be bullied. They need to learn the lesson that life is hard and they need to get tough. Bullying is good for them."
Bullies are not born, they're grown.
The opinion piece in the Iowa paper states, "Now this community and region must face this stark reality: We are all to blame. We have not done enough. Not nearly enough." The author goes on to say, "This is not a failure of one group of kids, one school, one town, one county or one geographic area. Rather, it exposes a fundamental flaw in our society, one that has deep-seated roots. ...we can't keep looking away."
So...here are my top 5 ways to grow a bully:
5. Encourage and nurture a culture of gossip.
When someone comes to us with a juicy rumor, we can't help but be tantalized. But if the person being talked about is not in the room, we need to shut up! As I said in my last post, I've spent my life working in and around churches my whole life. Other than junior high students, I've never seen a culture with a more veracious appetite for gossip than the Christian community. Oh....it's ugly.
4. Reward the snitches.
If you're a teacher, leader, boss, or parent, ask your students, subordinates, employees or children to snitch or tattle on one another. Then, reward the yakkety-yaks with good grades, positions of power, bonuses, or favoritism.
I remember a leader saying to me, "I asked a few people to tell me about your activity, and I learned (thus-and-such) about you." Why didn't you ask me?
3. Don't reign in your anger - let it out!
A local man shot and killed his neighbor because the neighbor's dog kept coming into the killer's yard. A young man purposely rammed his car into a Pedi-cab, injuring the bicyclist and one of his passengers.
We see angry raging people all around us. People lash out through road rage and parking lot rage. They yell at the bank tellers, the grocery store clerks, postal employees, and next-door neighbors - anyone that gets in their way or challenges their way of doing things. The bad attitude is infectious, and the bitter disease called, "anger" is spreading. Our children have become infected. Angry kids and angry adults bully the vulnerable.
2. Discriminate. Discriminate. Discriminate.
My step-dad used to call Hispanic people "spics". We lived in a Hispanic community and when we drove down the road, he used to joke that hitting one would give us extra driving "points". It was all "in good fun", but I promise you that I've had to fight against being a racist.
Our kids are not born a racist, homophobe, gay basher, religious zealot, or elitist - they are taught. They watch us, they listen, they observe - they LEARN FROM US!
You want to grow a bully? Plant seeds of discrimination in your own home garden, water daily with sprinkles of sarcasm, and fertilize with hatred.
1. Be a me-monster. After all, it's all about you!
One thing is certain; a bully is selfish, self-absorbed, and oblivious to the feelings of others. They don't care about the big picture. They certainly don't care about the truth! They only care about themselves and what they think, feel, want, and believe.
We live in an "I" world. We've got the iPhone, iPad, iPod...even Wii has two i's.
If you're a parent, teach your kids that it's NOT all about them. Don't bail them out of every little problem, don't fight with their teachers and blame them for your child's bad grades. You can teach them to NOT bully.
If you're a boss or leader, put an end to workplace bullying by pulling the plug on gossip and backbiters. Don't reward snitches. Create an environment of team building and kindness. Address problems. Find solutions.
If you're a teacher, do not ignore bullying. It's out of the control.
This is our problem - yours and mine. Bullying has got to stop. It starts here. And it starts now.