Recent teen suicides in Howard County have prompted soul-searching, heartbreak, and anger. How can this be happening to our children? What kind of a culture do we have that proves so toxic to our adolescent children? Where do bullies come from? Why?
I can't answer why, but I think I know where.
I recently got involved in a war of words on the Hoco Blog Tales of Two Cities. I took issue with the following comment:
"Yup. And remember, the HCEA (Howard County Education Association) cares about one thing: its members. Don't let them try to convince you that they give a crap about education or students. They're all about the $."
I found it to be "rude, ill-informed, and sadly out-of place." Rude--teachers don't give a crap; ill-informed--they only care about the money; sadly out-of-place--because it didn't promote open-minded exchange of ideas. Well, then the avalanche began. It was as though I had asked the heavens to open and pee on the whole Choose Civility movement.
Now, I am an adult, and I expressed my opinion in an open forum. I'm a big girl, and I made a choice. I could have held my tongue if I feared the consequences.
But that is just the problem--today, especially on the internet, we have to be afraid. Because there are bullies out there who use any expression, employ any technique to rip you to shreds if you disagree. Or even if you oppose meanness and bullying.
These people, every day, are creating and perpetuating a world that is to be feared. And what they write is read by others. And modeled by others.
And these people may have children who learn to share their methods, and their values.
When thoughtful people stand by while another gets eviscerated, they are a part of the torment.
And yet they do--we do--because we are afraid. Because we don't want to get involved. Because we think it's not really our cause to fight. Sound familiar? It would to our teens.
"By their fruits ye shall know them." Oh, we know them.