For some time now I have wanted to weigh in on an issue that affects every one in our community, in fact it is an international issue.
T-shirts have been made, speakers are brought in to speak to school students, and police forces have dedicated task forces to take on this issue. The heart breaking thing is that teens are committing suicide because of this. What I am talking about is bullying.
Some people think that schools teach a class called “Bullying 101” but unfortunately children start preschool, Kindergarten, and Grade One already knowing how to bully. These same children do not always become model citizens when they graduate. An example, 20 years ago I had the displeasure of playing crib at Parkside Manor. Two senior women could have sent “Vipers” slithering back into the grass. In fact bullies become school principals, teachers, coaches, policemen/women and yes, sometimes your boss.
Growing up in Calgary, as teens, we always hoped to be pulled over by older cops. I guess prestige and power sometimes go to our heads. It is human nature. Unfortunately we can not always change schools, or class, and when we have families to take care of, we can’t quit our jobs. Children also play “the game” just for the love of playing, and they are not going to walk off the ice, field, or court when their coaches are bullies.
It seems that the parents and spectators in the bleachers have a code of conduct, but in my experience the coaches need a “code” as well. The highlight of my son’s first year playing hockey (he was 10) was the two coaches physically fighting in the middle of the rink. During the tournament of that same year, the mothers from Lethbridge were screaming, “kill them, kill them”. Thank heavens Hockey Canada is putting new policies in place.
I guess the point I am trying to make is that beside the good skills schools are teaching students about anti-bullying, we also need to give our children the life-long skills to deal with bullies that are going to remain in their lives as they grow into adulthood, as bullies are not going away any time soon. Also parents need to take interest in what their children are doing and try talking about what is happening. No, it is not always easy. But get off the couch and see what is happening in your child’s day, both in school and after.
Take an interest. Have you hugged your kid today? Do you say you’re sorry when you make a mistake? Just because you are an adult does not make you perfect. Get out and watch them play. The rewards are amazing.
When you show respect you get respect back.
DIANE E. NELSON