Recently and in light of October being anti-bullying month, a news anchor from CBS WKBT Lacrosse, Wisc., responded on air to a viewer's letter about her weight and public reaction on social media.
The anchor received an e-mail that had the subject message of Community Responsibility.
The e-mail reads in part: "I was surprised to witness that your physical condition hasn't improved in many years...surely you don't consider yourself a suitable example for this communities' young people."
In response, the anchor said that while she realizes she is overweight she is much more than a number on the scale. "You don't know me, you are not a friend of mine, you are not part of my family. You know nothing about me than what you see on the outside. That man's words mean nothing to me," she went on. "But what angers me about this is there are children out there who don't know better who get e-mails like this every day. The Internet has become a weapon and our schools have become a battle ground."
Sadly, this is true.
If this is the kind of behavior we as adults model for our children, no wonder bullying is such a wide-spread problem in our schools.
We can't expect kids to learn a curriculum about anti-bullying if the adults in their lives don't model how to be kind and respectful to all people first.
We think of the "typical" bully as the school yard kid who picks on weaker classmates, pushes them around and calls them names.
Bullies can take on that form. But with the introduction of the Internet, and more specifically social media, we now have people bullying others from the privacy of their own homes protected behind a computer screen. What's even worse is the "bully" isn't a school-aged kid anymore.
As a full-time working woman, wife, mother and a former kid who was bullied, it appals me–and humbles me–that the examples of bullying most often start at home.
Adults have grown some thick skin over the years to be able to put aside hurtful comments. Most young children haven't developed a sense of self or a positive self-image yet.
Adults are the ones who set the example and the bold lines for their children between what is acceptable and what isn't. We have blurred that line making it difficult for our children to distinguish a difference.
Parents and adults need to realize that if our children witness us talking down to someone, making a derogatory comment about someone's appearance, laughing at a put-down, making a joke about someone, or using any actions or words to intimidate another person, they will think that's okay.
Page 2 of 2 - WE need to be an example for children about how to treat other people with kindness and respect that they deserve no matter what their size, skin color, job, income level or whatever else we may think is their problem.
We are only human and sometimes we get mad and upset. What our children need to see is us dealing with our disagreements in a positive way so we can model healthy ways to communicate and how to verbalize our problems with respect.
The point is, no amount of bullying prevention is going to change our children's behavior if WE don't change our behavior as adults first.
Putting a stop to bullying, intimidation and harassment in your life will also put a stop those same things in your children's life.
To see a change, BE the change.