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Are We Contributing to Bullying?

No Way! I’m not a bully!

Does that mean you’re not a part of the problem? As we embark on another school year, we will again hear the chorus against bullying. It’s wrong. We must stop it. We agree.

But  is that enough?

Youth Services Specialist Deb Murphy says that it’s NOT good enough for us to tell children not to do it. It’s not good enough to educate school faculty and staff. It’s not good enough to have zero tolerance policies. We keep talking about the future for LGBT youth, promising them, “It gets better.” That’s not good enough. It has to BE better. And WE have to be better.

As much as we lecture others about how not to behave, we aren’t always a good example  for the younger generation. Bullies emulate our behavior. They are children who are suffering and struggling in their own way. Today’s victim is tomorrow’s bully and vice versa. When we gossip, make snide comments, and enjoy humor at someone’s expense, we send a powerful message to our youth. That’s not to say that bullies should be exempt from taking responsibility for their behavior, but let’s remember that children and teenagers are impulsive. They watch how we navigate through the world, demanding respect while belittling others. These are the lessons we teach when we’re not lecturing.

Teens who are bullied don’t feel safe in school, and because of that they are more likely to cut class and less likely to graduate. Those who do graduate  have lower Grade Point Averages than their peers. Fewer go to college, and lower GPAs limit college prospects. The next time you’re inclined to mock or berate someone, Murphy encourages you to think about how this behavior trickles down to our youth. The consequences might steal someone’s future.

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