Very few of us who follow the news with any regularity have missed the story on the elderly bus monitor in New York. She was bullied and harassed by middle school (MIDDLE SCHOOL) students. If, like me, you have tried to watch the video to see what the hullabaloo was about (here's the link to CNN's article with the video), you may have turned it off before being done. Some of you may have even had the same reaction I did - I cried.
The video is vile. The language is such that you expect to see either a rap star or Mel Gibson at any moment. Certainly not kids. Definitely not kids in the same age range as my own children. But the language is not the worst of it. The taunts, the cruelty, the threats - there lies bullying at its normal. Bullies seek to attack your vulnerabilities. They want to put you in your place and in their minds that place is one of humiliation.
I was bullied. I know what it is to have people call me cruel names, and, threaten to beat me up, follow me home... you wonder if bullies are given a book, "How to Intimidate and Threaten". In fact I was beat up twice in one year. Once on the bus. Once while waiting for a late bus to arrive. After the second beating, my parents began driving me to and from school (No judgement - they had been assured it would never happen again. Three kids, two jobs - not sure I wouldn't have trusted the school, also).
Of course all that really meant was the bullies had to wait until I GOT to school to start. When I watched the video, our rising 9th grader watched some of it with me. He stopped before I did. You would think an Honors English student could come up with a better word, but he didn't. He called them "douche bags". Never have I been prouder of his language, though. I know that I don't KNOW everything our teens may say and do. But since they were young, I've discussed bullying with them. We have a saying, Momma is intolerant of intolerance. You are not to make fun of someone's appearance, religion, sexual orientation, mental capabilities... Of course, they're also aware that if I caught them....
I am at a loss as to what we can do, but these children need help. And society needs help, if it allows our youth to be this vile. Some of the people who bullied me are now your basic middle aged person not out to hurt anyone. So we can all change. As for me, being bullied taught me empathy. But it would have been nice to have picked up empathy in some other way without kissing the floor of the bus.