It's Our Responsibility To Teach Our Children Not to Be Bullies

Family Matters on 06.21.12
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UPDATE: The student who recorded the video has come forward and apologized, as has his mother. Good for them.

UPDATE 2: As of Friday morning (6/22), the vacation fund is up to $486K.

I could only watch a couple minutes of the video before I had to stop or I would cry.

A friend posted it on Facebook, part of an Indiegogo campaign to raise $5,000 for a vacation for Karen, the 68-year-old bus monitor in suburban Rochester who was driven to tears by children calling her a "fat bitch" and mocking her tears while they recorded her reaction on a smartphone camera.

The video actually goes on 10 minutes, and I can only assume it gets worse. I couldn't stomach watching any longer.

And the first thing that went through my mind was: what is wrong with these kids' parents? Where did these kids learn to act this way?

It is our duty, as parents, to make sure our children learn to teach other people with respect.

Can we always know what our children are doing? No. Will they sometimes treat people poorly? Most likely. They are, after all, human.

But lately, there seems to be much concern about the breakdown of civil discourse. You know where civil discourse broke down?

In our homes.

Who will teach our children that it's not OK to bully a grown woman until she cries?

Who will teach our children that it's not OK to threaten to egg someone's house?

Who will teach our children that they must treat people with respect, if we do not?

How can we bemoan the loss of civility in modern society when we're not teaching our children how to be civil?

The children in this case should be ashamed of themselves.

Their parents should be even more ashamed.

There's a difference between supporting our children and blindly supporting our children. We do them no favors when we take their side when they do something wrong.

That's not to say we shouldn't support them in those situations. It means that we need to help them understand in those situations why what they did was wrong.

It means that we love them.

Rolling our eyes and saying, "Kids will be kids." Or throwing up our hands and saying, "She's such a handful" doesn't absolve us from the responsibility of guiding them to do right.

If we don't do it, then we might find ourselves one day being taunted relentlessly by someone else's children, tears silently running down our cheeks.

NOTE: By the time this article publishes, the Indiegogo fundraiser most likely will have surpassed $100,000. All money will go to Karen, who might find that she can retire from the school district, where she's worked for more than 20 years. Her current salary is a little more than $15,000.

Creative Commons photo by RJH School on Flickr.

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