by Bill Korach
Bullying has been around since there were children and schools, but today bullying has gotten worse, much worse. “Bully” the new documentary by Lee Hirsch, himself a childhood victim of bullying, is a must-see film. This writer remembers bullies and bullying from the 1950’s, but there were limits in those days, and there was often a decent older kid or responsible adult to stop it. The trends are alarming: 3 million children were absent from school last year because they feared bullies. The Josephson study conducted in 2011 among 40,000 school children found that 42% of children said that they were bullied, 24% said they do not feel safe at school. Last year 25 kids took their own lives because of bullying. “Bully” tells heart wrenching stories about kids whose families have been forced to move because of bullying. There are also stories where moving was no longer an option because their child committed suicide. “Bully” captures a student’s beating on a school bus where the boy is kicked and punched, but the driver does nothing. When the parents present the evidence of the tape to a school administrator, she tells the parents: “Why, those kids are good as gold.” In other words, the school administrator is in complete denial.
Suicide due to bullying is up by 50% over the past 30 years, and for every suicide, there are 100 attempts. Years ago, bullying pretty much took place at school, but with Facebook and MySpace cyber bullying is now a regular occurrence. Megan Meier, a 13 year old hanged herself after neighbors set up a fake MySpace site purported to belong to a non-existent young man. Megan was first befriended by the hoax site and later mocked and insulted by the non-existent young man who Megan believed to be a friend.
The writer’s younger son was mocked and bullied in an affluent suburban Westchester, NY community because his older brother was autistic. Classmates and neighbors would mimic my older sons autistic mannerisms and mock our younger boy in school and as he walked home. 18 years later, he still carries the pain of those times. Bullying is an ugly, cowardly behavior that has been growing like a cancer because children today are not taught right from wrong. They are taught that things are all relative.
In New Kensington, PA a group of atheist bullies are asking the school district to remove a Ten Commandments monument from the Valley School property. The monument was donated to the school by The Fraternal Order of Eagles in 1957. The ACLU has been retained to threaten the School District with a lawsuit if the monument is not removed. Perhaps the removal of prayer from our schools, and Decalog monuments from the public squares of America has something to do with the rise and severity of bullying in America.
In the 1954 best seller “Lord of the Flies” a group of English school boys crash land and make their way to a desert island. Without adult supervision and moral instruction, they descend into bullying and savagery. The title, “Lord of the Flies” is a translation from the Hebrew, Beelzebub, the ancient name for Satan.