2012-10-04 / Editorials

Don’t raise a bully

Parents across the country live in fear of their child being bullied at school. But how many take the time to think about whether or not their kid is the one doing the bullying?

While October is most associated with National Breast Cancer Awareness, it is also National Anti-Bullying Awareness Month, making right now an opportunity to address two life-and-death issues facing our nation.

Statistics show that 1 in 3 young people in the United States are involved in bullying—as a bully, a target of bullying, or both— according to the National Youth Violence Prevention Resource Center.

The numbers have spiked in recent years, with more than 250,000 students reportedly being attacked every month. This doesn’t even take into account the fact that many incidents go unreported.

In a low-crime area like the Conejo Valley, our young people are fortunate to be sheltered from much of the violence and crime that affect other parts of Southern California, but not from bullying. It is an act that takes many forms and carries many faces—the bully can also be the bullied—and crosses all socioeconomic and ethnic lines.

While cyber-bullying has become the latest focus, many hurtful words are still tossed around in cafeterias, school buses and classrooms. And the consequences are dire. Countless acts of suicide have been linked to bullying, including a few right here in the Conejo.

This week, a video of a morning news anchor in Lacrosse, Wis., firing back at a viewer who criticized her for being overweight went viral. It’s a must-see for parents and their children. There’s also that infamous video of the bullied bus monitor in New York.

The news anchor’s message was this: The prevention of bullying starts at home. Be careful, she says, when you’re criticizing someone on TV or in the newspaper for their appearance. If your child hears you calling others “fat,” “ugly” or “stupid,” there’s a good chance they’ll take those same destructive words to school.

So this month, remember that actions speak louder than words and try to set a good example about the right way to treat others.

We can combat the bullying epidemic, one young mind at a time.

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