It’s not just a teen issue
Posted by gespurr
We, as adults are hypocrites. There’s no denying it. Just look around. It’s nothing new. For generations, we have told our kids to “do as we say, not as we do.” My mom told me not to smoke, yet she has been for more than 40 years. My grandparents told their own kids to “wait” until marriage, I’m sure. Yet, both of my sets had children born less than 9 months after their wedding dates. These were probably considered harmless. But in today’s society, what we think is harmless now has deadly consequences.
Take, for example, the messages everywhere aimed at teens against texting while driving. These commercials, ads, pledges and petitions are all aimed at new drivers hitting the streets for the first time. Truth is, over the past 7 days I have seen six people text while driving. Absolutely none of these people were teens. Only one person seemed younger than myself. One gentleman nearly ran me off the road. Another seemed to be weaving through imaginary cones within their lane, alternating between the center line and the rumble strips. When I finally had the courage to pass him, his attention was on either a laptop or cell phone in the seat next to him. Just today, I could not merge out of the entrance ramp because the person in my blind spot had his phone up in front of him, looking at it.
A recent article in the Arkansas Democrat Gazette stated that most tickets issued within this state for texting and driving were given to people over the age of 25. Over 25. That’s seven years past the target demographic.
How can we as adults expect our children to follow rules and behave when the people they look up to can’t even do so themselves?
The same goes for bullying. A couple of weeks ago, Whitney Kropp was nominated for Homecoming Queen. Typically, this would be a celebratory moment. In Whitney’s case, this was not true. She soon learned that she was chosen as a prank by other classmates. She wasn’t popular. She was mocked. She was bullied.
I was Whitney once. When you’re the wallflower in High School, the geek and the girl in the wheelchair, comments come. I remember distinctly one gentleman in High School who asked me out over and over again in front of his friends to get a laugh.. and he did. I remember being called “retard” in elementary school and junior high. I was called lepper, stupid, bitch.. I was stared at, called disgusting. When I’d wheel past people, some would randomly scream at me and accuse me of running over their toes. After a while, the joke got old and it no longer was funny. It was done for the laughs by others.
After some time, I felt that anything done for me that was nice was only ‘charity’. Charity was not what I wanted. I didn’t want to be moved to the front of the line because of my disability. I didn’t want to be given an A just to boost my self-esteem. I wanted to be treated just like everyone else. The last thing I wanted was special accommodations. Even years after my wheelchair became a thing of the past, I still held on to that feeling that I was singled out because of my differences. Sometimes, more than 20 years later, I still look over my shoulder. Bullying has permanent emotional effects.
But as I stated, it’s not just a teen issue. Adults bully each other too, as is exemplified in this video:
So again, I ask, just as WKBT anchor Jennifer Livingston did, how can we seriously expect our children to stop bullying when we ourselves cannot. How can we expect the next generation to be tolerant when we ourselves cannot be?
A couple of months ago, I was at the grocery store and ran into someone I knew. They had with them their 4 year old daughter. One of the cashiers approached the little girl and immediately the girl started crying. “Oh my gosh!” the mom whispered, “Can you believe it? My daughter is prejudice. I haven’t been teaching her that!” The fact is, though highly I doubt the color of the cashier’s skin was the reason for the child’s fears, using the N word in other conversations with me while holding the attitude they have about another race silently teaches their child to be racist.
When you tell your children that someone is acting like a ‘jew’, ‘n-word’, ‘fag’ or ‘homo’, what are you telling your kids exactly? When you call someone fat, you are, indeed telling them that it is OK to call their peers fat, as well. When your children are taught that homosexuality is a sin that will commit anyone who practices it to hell, your children are taught that it is OK to tell that to anyone whom they encounter, including homosexuals.
When you use scare tactics to get these messages across to your children in order to behave properly, you’re probably sending a message to them that says “It’s perfectly OK for you to repeat what I just said right back to your peers. Go ahead and do it.”
Maybe you don’t think you yourself are bullying other adults. How may items have you seen in social media lately that aim negatively at the Muslim community? How many things have you seen that condemn homosexuality? How many memes have you seen aimed at the overweight? Poor? How many have you passed on yourself? How is that in the long run, truly different than what we are trying to stop our own children from doing?
Look at social media conversations on News sites. You’ll see plenty of it amongst adults. Just this morning, there was a topic brought up about whether or not beauty pageants should be allowed within schools. Several argued that it would further perpetuate the bullying issue, singling those out who are more popular or more pretty than others, thus setting up a potential situation much like Whitney’s above. Others argued that there was no harm in a beauty pageant at a school level. These grown women went back and forth, one stating that it was always the popular kids who became bullies. And that, ironically, led to these two women nagging on and bullying each other… just like what they had been discussing could happen at the high school level.
Now, I’m not saying that I have never been the bully myself. I can name specific people who will claim me to be the bully, even in my adult years. But as a generation or two, we must point our fingers at ourselves before discussing with our children the ramifications of being the bully. If we want our future generations to stop doing things that could have potentially deadly affects, we must stop that behavior ourselves.