There is a documentary out about bullying in American schools. For some crazy reason it is rated “R”. There is a movement about to get that rating reduced to “PG-13”. As a parent, I would like to see the rating changed to “PG”. The movement wants to give greater access to the movie to young people. The thing is, bullying starts as young a six years of age! Schools are required to report and respond to incidents of bullying immediately. But bullying does not start in the school. It starts at home! The only question is: why?
I suggest the reason for bullying starting in the home is American’s acceptance of a violent society. No other country in the world promotes gun usage. Now gun ownership is not a basis for violence. The person behind it is, of course. But adolescents and teens are awash with images of violence on television, in the movies, and in their video games. I have always found it curios that we take great pains in hiding one of mankind’s most wonderful and common acts, sex, while we flaunt violence. Where is the sense in that. A 14-year-old boy knows more about weapons than he does about his own sexuality. He feels far freer to ask someone how to use a gun but is scared to death to ask someone about safe sex!
I am not suggesting that we open up pornography to our nation’s youth but I am suggesting that American parents are failing miserably in educating their children about sex while they take great pains to educate them about violence. Most of that education, unfortunately, comes via the parent’s fascination in violence without properly instructing the child about it. The parent will watch a blood and gore movie in front of his children and not say a thing about what the child is being exposed to. But God forbid a well-made movie shows a woman’s breasts and the parents will be shooing the child out of the room. We have the wrong forbidden fruit in America. Where violence should be the forbidden fruit, sex is.
Children learn a lot from their parents. Adults can be as much of a bully as a child. When a child sees his parent yelling at a store clerk and verbally abusing such people, the child learns that such things are all right to do. They turn around and practice those learned techniques on their classmates. Similarly, when a child is in a car with a parent who is a very aggressive driver, or who has road rage, the child assumes such behavior to be normal and acceptable.
Every parent misbehaves in front of their children from time-to-time. But when the responsible parent recognizes his inappropriate actions, he informs the child of how his actions were incorrect and not to be repeated.
I think far too many Americans act irresponsibly. They are very slow to take responsible for their actions, and at times refuse to. They forget that their bad acts, in front of their own children and other children, is showing bad example and teaching our children the wrong things. Prior to my retirement from teaching I had occasion to take aside three students and apologise to them for what I considered some inappropriate actions. And while they did not think what I had done to have been any big deal, their words, I said that I was wrong. Children need to learn that adult authority figures make mistakes and are willing to take responsibility for those mistakes.