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Today is the official launch of Pushed Around, a project on bullying. This project will include coverage on radio, TV and web over the upcoming weeks. We will also be hosting a public forum on the topic and three workshops for parents with the Susan P. Byrnes Health and Education Center. We plan to cover bullying in schools, as well as cyber bullying and bullying in the workplace.
As we led up to this project, we have been asking you to tell us about your experiences with bullying. We've been sharing the stories here. So far, we've heard from a woman who bullied for having a birth defect, a man who was bullied for being an "artsy" kid, and a man who became more determined to succeed as a result of bullying.
Heather Klinefelter, York County, told us about the bullying her 6-year-old son encountered and what she believes is the key to stopping bullying:
"My 6-year-old started kindergarten this year, in an inner-city school as we waited on the list for the charter school we wanted to attend.
His teacher was great, and all seemed to new going well until about a month into the school year. It took a week of him crying, refusing to get dressed, saying that he was feeling 'sick' or had 'bad dreams' to get the truth out of him. His seat mate, a boy he thought was his friend, was calling him names like 'sassyhead' and 'dummy' at lunch and on the playground when the teacher wasn't looking. While it doesn't seem like a big deal, it was to my son. We insist on respecting other's feelings, active listening, and using our 'nice' words, so this was a new and upsetting experience for our sensitive little man.
Unfortunately, many of the children in that school do not have parental involvement and level of emotional attachment and respect that is necessary to form caring, respectful, and long-term healthy relationships. Socio-economic status and level of education reflect wholly on our children and their prospects for the future. The sad truth of the matter it's that many of these children are bullied by their parents, and the children are merely acting out what they know as an 'acceptable' form of communication. Sadly, most of them probably see it as an acceptable form of affection because that is all they know from their own lives.
In our situation, the teacher was very helpful and responsive. In response to my concerns, she moved several students in order not to draw attention to either boy. But the bigger question is why are kindergartners bullying each other in the first place? Ineffectual, ignorant parenting is a huge problem. If you try to talk to your children like sensitive, intelligent, cognizant, growing live beings deserving of respect, validation, and love, they might in turn see other people in the same light.
I always try to turn it around and ask what the bully would think and feel if they were in a similar situation. But this only goes so far...parents are the real starting point. So many parents bully their children, it is only natural that these children in turn bully other children. Correcting parental behavior may hold the key to creating better life models for children."
What do you think is the key to stopping bullying? Do you agree that it starts with parents?
One goal of the Pushed Around project is to give others a feel for the true impact bullying can have on someone's life. We can't share all of the stories we receive, as grateful as we are for each one, but we will continue to post more of your stories here throughout the project.
Do you have a story to tell about bullying? Whether you’ve been bullied, you’ve been a bully, you’ve been close to someone who has been bullied or you’ve witnessed bullying, we want to hear about it. Please help inform our project by sharing your personal insights.
Pushed Around is supported by Penn State Hershey Children's Hospital.
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