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Today, two friends told me about their recent experience with bullying.
One of my best friends, who I have known for 23 years told me about her son fearfully shaking this morning as he told her he was scared to go to school. Another friend told me about how her co-workers child is experiencing bullying with little help from the school principal.
Sadly, these stories are not unique and the fact is that bullying is rampant in our society.
From very small children, where it begins, to adults in public office. Many people know live in the great state of Wisconsin. For over 50 years the state has held a long tradition of union negotiation, protecting the rights of workers. Now those rights are under attack by a newly elected Governor, ill-equipped to compromise, preferring strong-arm tactics.
Both sides of the argument are in the process of name calling and bullying tactics. One side has sought to bully the other into changes and is shocked when the other has decided to push back, effectively playing the same game by refusing to allow a vote. Clearly, both sides are bullying the other, and failing to negotiate is a horrible example of how things should work. Sadly, that the Governor is trying to eliminate the right to negotiate is the most tragic tactic to come out of this political dispute but both sides have behaved poorly in many respects.
I would like to remind people, bullying begins in a child’s formative years and all examples that adults provide are quickly internalized as proper behavior, regardless of whether those are appropriate or not.
When a child is bullied on the playground we often tell them to fight back, and we certainly wouldn’t expect them to lay down and take a beating when faced with a fight, but to defend themselves given the circumstances. The solution is to learn how to treat each other with respect and learn to negotiate and compromise with a clear head, avoiding the power abuse that is bullying.
Wednesday, February 23, 2011 is Pink Shirt Day, a day we stand together to fight against bullying by deciding we are no longer going to tolerate power abuse. We stand together silently to support the rights of children and people to be treated with respect. Remember to wear your PINK shirt, and remember that bullying begins with each of us and the examples we set for our children.