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The Bullying Myth

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As our list of overly-dramatized catch phrases and new found "social plagues" within our school system continues to grow, the word "bullying" can now officially be added to the mix. Americans have always had a tendency to label our dilemmas and seek out new ways to avoid any sort of responsibility for our issues but, let's be honest; bullying has been a problem since the dawn of time.

As a teenager, I remember all too well the pain of having my reputation slandered. I also remember suffering in silence at the torments, insults and humiliations handed out on a daily basis by the "popular crowd." However, there is something that strikes me about the recent news stories regarding the 'Bullying Issue.'

In my opinion, the phenomenon here is not that children are being bullied, but the expectations parents place on others to teach self-confidence and the ability to stand up for oneself. I was taught at a tender age that by allowing yourself to believe negativities or failing to see your own value, you are certainly more likely to be pushed around. So at the end of the day, isn't it a parent or custodial guardian's job to instill confidence and self-worth? It seems to me the issue leans more toward a lack of mentoring than that of a bullying epidemic.

To be fair, I certainly agree with those who argue that the Internet and text messaging has allowed for the spread of gossip and rumors on a much larger scale. This, in turn, causes hatefulness to spread at a much faster rate. But with that said, most adults are aware of this. An aggressive push from parents to keep up with the times is imperative, as is instilling self-esteem and teaching suitable forms of self-defense. Sadly, the world can be a dangerous place. Children and teenagers should be equipped with the tools needed to battle a bully or anyone else who poses a threat to their well-being.

Don't misunderstand. I am certainly not advocating violence or failing to see that certain individuals may not have the mental or physical capacity to defend themselves. Those are the children, teenagers and young adults that certainly need help. Teaching mercy and kindness should be the responsibility of every adult, including the parents of these "bullies." If a child feels the need to act out in order to prove his or her worth, there are larger issues at play with regard to their mental state or home situation that need to be addressed.

We owe it to future generations to teach them to be strong, confident adults capable of handling any situation that is thrown their way. Take responsibility and set an example for the young people in your life. Show them that irresponsibility, finger pointing and blame is certainly not the way to prepare them for life as an adult. Let's get back to basics and teach young adults, many of whom will become our future leaders, that a little personal responsibility and self-confidence can go a long way. We will then be able to watch their accomplishments and successes breathe life into their own sense of pride. But first we have to stop spoon-feeding them even more excuses to fail.