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When I grow up, I want to be a bully just like you!

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Father-&-Son“When I grow up, I want to be a bully just like you!”–  Those are not exactly the words that parents want to hear from their children.  However, I’ve noticed that children across the country seem to be expressing that sentiment in their actions way too often.  I really don’t want to sound preachy, but what are we doing?  I keep hearing these stories about children hurting each other over the simplest things… not that there’s ever a good reason for them to act out in violence against one another.  By no means am I excusing their behavior, but if we are serving as a moral compass for our children, how could they not be lost?

We tell our kids, to practice the Golden Rule – to treat others the way they expect to be treated.  Then, we turn on our televisions and radios to revel in outrageously offensive insults hurled back and forth between political pundits in a strategic attempt to divide and corrupt our sensibilities.

We use cliches like “beauty is as beauty does”, “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”, or my personal favorite… “what matters most is what’s on the inside”.  Then, we devote entire shows and magazines to Best and Worst Dressed lists.

Last but not least, we’ve turned people-behaving-badly into big business.  In fact, bad behavior is so popular that it now has its own genre, it’s called Reality TV.  The worse the antics, the bigger the book deal.

Kids are being shallow and mean to one another, and we are (wait for it…) SHOCKED.  Really?  In the midst of our mess of contradictions, we cloak ourselves in irony and sort through the adolescent wreckage to determine what went wrong.  Is it really a mystery?  Children are viciously attacking each other with words and violence, and our unspoken message to them seems to be ‘you should wait until you’re an adult to treat people badly’.  We have created a hostile environment that makes children feel as if hate and malevolence is natural and acceptable… and it’s simply not.  We want to punish them for imitating us, condemn them for silently standing by as bullies conduct their business, but I ask again… what are we doing?  If we are going to be their moral compass, then let’s be sure we’re pointing them in the right direction.

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