Friday, June 22, 2012

The Adventures of Karen Klein

I’m sure everyone by now has seen the video that has been posted online about a 68 year woman named Karen Klein who was bullied by a pack of middle schoolers.  Their insults are so brutal it brought the poor woman to tears.
Little did one of the kids know that when he commented that she does not have family because "they all killed themselves because they didn't want to be near you” that her oldest son took his own life 10 years ago.  This is the ignorance of bullying at its best, and I can guarantee it will be something that kid will regret saying for the rest of his life. 

I myself had to ride the middle school bus when I was that age and I don’t remember having the need for bus monitors.  I guess the times have changed.  Sure there was bullying back then, but I remember a time where we respected our elders.  Sure we might have made fun of the bus driver, but never to the point where you would drive them to tears.  Don’t any of these kids have grandparents or common sense?  I understand the needing to fit in, but respect is something you teach at home.  I guarantee not one of those kids would let anyone talk to their grandmother that way.  Yet there they are ganging up on her like a pack of wolves on an injured lamb.  I know I must sound like the crotchety old man waving his fist in the air, but there has to be a line drawn in the sand. 

Kudos goes out to the kid who recorded and posted the video online for others to see.  It is individuals like that who help the world see how this bullying trend has to stop.  That person should get an award because you very well know that they had to take heat from other bullies on the bus and at school for being a “snitch”.  It definitely took a lot of courage to come forward.  I’m sure the last thing that whistle blower needed was to have the profanity laced bullying directed at them instead.

The police department that is handling the matter is treating it as a harassment case and not a crime.  I can understand the reasons why, and the woman in question just wanted an apology.  Well as of today she has gotten those apologies, and then some.  There was an online petition started to send Karen Klein on a vacation and that has raised over 500,000 dollars!  It is a shining example of human kindness, and one that I hope will be passed along to others.  I look forward to the future news reports of Karen Klein taking her whole family on a nice vacation and getting to hear about some of those amazing adventures.

Hopefully, the kids in question learned their lesson and they did not just give her empty apologies. Only time will tell if they continue their ways, but at least the public was notified that such behavior was going on.  Bullying like this can only be helped if people become aware that it is taking place, and can only be rectified if we continue to care.  For those of us out there that are still being bullied, stay strong.  And for those that are witnesses to such behavior take a lesson from this and remember that it is okay to stand up for others.  After all, if Karen Klein was your grandmother, wouldn't you do the same? 

See how The Prevention Team  helps to stop bullying in your neighborhood.

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Friday, June 15, 2012

Social Network Bullying

Bullying has become an American epidemic as of late.  With the advent of social media, not only has it become easier to pick on someone, but it has become more visible to the public in general.  Even though the technology has progressed the speed and ways someone can bully, the reasons have remained the same.   Bullying isn’t blind, but it is most definitely ignorant.  Underlying factors to why a person is bullied can still be attributed to looks, speech, sexuality, ethnicity, religion, social beliefs, or just simply a way to show off and prove dominance.  Just because it takes place in social media does not change the "whys". 

 An Old man has scars on his face? Definitely an opening to why a young person would make fun of him, but what they wouldn’t realize is those scars might be from his military career and he got those from protecting our rights.  Those same rights that are being abused by a bully making fun of him.  This ignorance can be passed along to a young pregnant girl.  Sure she makes for an easy target for a pack of juveniles, especially because of shows like 16 and Pregnant on MTV, but little would they know she might be pregnant because of an unfortunate rape.  It is this very ignorance of facts that drive most bullies down their destructive paths.    

However, when we speak of social media bullying this can be a direct effect on how a person acts or speaks on camera or on their Facebook page.  It’s a general consensus that people say and do stupid things all the time.  But never before in human history has the stupid things we say and do become permanent on a social platform.  Many times these are not even self-inflicting screw ups.  What if a young kid slips and falls walking down the hallway at school and someone happens to catch it on camera? It might become viral on their school network, and yes, it will be embarrassing to all the kids that person sees on a daily basis, but imagine if you were that person and it goes viral on YouTube.  I’ve read the comments people post on there and they are brutal.  And the fact that it is anonymous makes it even worse. Up until the last decade or so bullying was a face to face problem.  Now anyone from anywhere in the world has the ability to throw racial and sexual slurs to anyone that is on a social network.  All you need for that is an email address, and you can acquire a new one of those very easily from any number of internet providers.  Unfortunately, it is like the Wild West out there. Except this time there are no Wyatt Earps to help corral the bad guys and make sure justice is served.  And sure posts can be removed, but usually only after the damage is done.  It is not just the typical bullies either.  There are kids out there that are usually the ones being bullied in life that find a release in becoming bullies online.  Anger that is directed at those who otherwise they could not make fun of are now the focus of their rage. 

If there were to be a silver lining to all the state of the art bullying, it would be that cries for help can no longer go unnoticed.  For ignoring them usually comes with huge penalties.  It seems like every day in the news young children and adults everywhere are committing suicide that can be linked back to bullying of some kind.  And usually you can find their previous cries for help on their social network accounts.  With our growing knowledge of these avenues of interaction we are learning to look for early signs of severe depression and misconduct.  Prior to the age of technology we wouldn't be able to spot these troubled individuals before it was too late.

  So who are these new sheriffs that are going to stop this cyber-bulling from taking place? It's not going to come down to a single person.  It is going to take a collective effort from all of us who frequent these sites to patrol them for offenders.  But even before that it starts at home.  It starts with what we teach our children.  How they interact with their siblings and peers, and especially how they respond to criticism.  Because one thing we will not be short of in our internet lives is criticism.  This isn't a place were people will be polite to you if they do not like something about you, or about your taste or distaste for something.  We are going to have to teach our future generations that with every effort of positivity you put into something there is more than likely going to be an equal effort of negativity being pushed back at you.  It is how you handle these potential bullies that will make or break you and them.  Take away a bullies need for superiority and you take away their power.  Bullies without that power are not bullies at all, they become sad and desperate people that hopefully change their ways of social interaction.

The awareness the media has for bullying these days is at an all time high, but we need to make sure it continues until ultimately it is abolished.  However, we do have to be careful not to eventually cross the line and become a nation and world that stands against our deepest values.  The ability to talk freely must always thrive, but it is in our own natures and our own educations and social lives that we have to turn the Wild West of the internet into the promised land of the New American Frontier.

See how The Prevention Team  helps to stop bullying in your neighborhood.

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