A recent article by NASW News highlighted the recent suicides of teens and young men who had taken their life after being tormented by their peers. You probably remember reading one or more of these incidents in your local newspaper or seeing a report on the news.
After the rash of suicides, US President, Barack Obama, reminded teens who are being bullied that there are people out there who care about them. I want to believe that the "people out there" include general church members and youth who attend church and also attend schools where bullying goes on.
The article says that as many as one in four students are bullied with verbal bullying being the most common. Bullying is experienced by boys and girls, and bullies can be boys or girls.
One of the items mentioned in this article grabbed my attention. The article mentioned the perception that bullying is "just an inevitable part of growing up." When adults take that perspective, the bullying victims feel as though adults cannot be trusted to protect them. To me, that is like the "sink or swim" mentality.
Instead, the article stresses that we must teach our youth to develop a sense of empathy. If youth can feel themselves in someone else's shoes, the likelihood of hurting that person - or understanding how hurt can occur - diminishes. And the opposite may be true as well. As long as youth don't feel the pain of someone else, it becomes easier to hurt someone and to believe that it is their problem for feeling hurt.