Bullying seems to have taken hold of headline news lately. Incident after incident along with suicides due to harsh words from peers have gone viral, giving bullying the attention it deserves. There are more movements and organizations than I can count and while many youth have received assistance, the statistics show bullying is continually on the rise. I love the fact that organizations are using platforms to bring awareness and promote positivity as well as providing recourse to those in need. Knowing you are not alone gives strength and courage to those who have fallen victim to someone else's harsh words and judgement.
Most often when I see the media headlining a suicide due to bullying, the victim is a beautiful, talented girl with a great future ahead full of goals and dreams. Her friends speak out about how great she was and how much they will miss her. HOLD EVERYTHING! This is when I fail to understand how harsh words using text messaging and social media caused these girls to end their life. I was bullied in middle school and as I look back on what I could have done to make my life less miserable, I understand why girls choose not to tackle the situation at hand. The idea of being popular and fitting in gains more traction than receiving an education during middle school and high school years. (The movie "Mean Girls" proves that!)
My cyber-bullying incident was an act of jealousy and insecurity on the girl who chose to bully me. I was more worried that everyone else would believe what she plastered on MySpace even though not an ounce of it was true. You see, her words really didn't hurt my feelings but the fact that I felt the world had read those hateful words, my peers would now believe her....after all, if it's on the internet it must be true, right? Bullying has been around forever. Boys used to fight after school and girls had invitation-only cliques declaring turf on certain areas. Did they get their feelings hurt by harsh words? Yes they did, but with the absence of technology and social media, the ability to bully was minimized due to accountability and the fact that girls made the choice to surround themselves with likeminded friends. The bully didn't have the ability to be anonymous so she was out of sight, out of mind.
When I hear stories from generations who did not have social media, computers, and cell phones, the act of bullying didn't seem so bad. It was character building....if someone was mean to you, you had two choices. Suck it up and move on with a thought of who cares what they think, or confront the person and fix it. In life, everyone is not going to be nice and coddle your every thought. I learned this lesson for the first time when I was five years old when one of the girls in my dance class told me to my face that my picture on the beautiful bulletin board for everyone to see was UGLY! I couldn't believe it. My mom's exact words to me were "Not everyone is going to be nice to you. Don't worry about it. What she thinks really doesn't matter." Life lesson #1. I love being challenged and learning life lessons. It makes me stronger, smarter and my life experiences will be used to help the next generation.
Being confident and truly loving oneself for who we are is something my generation must strive to feel. I hear so many girls putting themselves down and allowing the media and their peers to validate who they are. It's easy to say -- gain confidence, love who you are and don't let anyone tear you down. I can shout this from the rooftops around the world but that doesn't mean everyone magically gets it. It's not a potion or magical spell, it's a learned behavior that is not often taught at home. I believe that legislation should be passed to incorporate a mandatory life class to all students relative to their grade level that instills confidence, leadership skills, and the use of T.H.I.N.K. in the application of their daily lives on campus and off. I often imagine what life would be like if these life skills were put to use. Headline news might be much more positive if this were to occur on a broad scale.
THINK before you Speak, Type, or Text
Is what you are saying
T - True
H - Helpful
I - Inspiring
N - Necessary
K - Kind