I wonder sometimes if people truly understand the ripple effects of their thoughts and actions, their effect on the world. What appears to be trivial and inconsequential could have — and too often does have — devastating results.
Case in point: Children at a school in Oregon taunted and bullied Jadin Bell, who committed suicide as a result. Then his father, Joe Bell, decided to walk across the country to raise awareness about bullying — and as a way to deal with his own grief. Sadly, last week he was killed by a driver who, apparently, fell asleep at the wheel. (See PolicyMic article.)
So, two lives have been lost that might still be here if those children at the Oregon school had not bullied Jadin Bell in the first place.
But who taught those kids to be bullies? Where did they learn such behavior? Who sowed the seeds of bigotry in them?
Well, one doesn’t have to look very far for the answers. Adults taught them, either directly or indirectly. Every day we read reports of adults bullying LGBT people, from the pulpits, from politicial office, from conservative organizations. Yesterday, I wrote about California, where adults are spending huge sums of money to gang up on a few transgender kids: what message are they giving their own children in their homes? What message are they giving all children who hear about their actions?
In Michigan yesterday, same-sex couples were disappointed when a court refused to overturn a ban on same-sex marriage and instead decided there would be a trial on the matter (see Reuters article). Equality on trial, because some people feel they have the right to define the parameters of other people’s love? What message are the opponents of same-sex marriage in Michigan giving their children in the privacy of their own homes? Indeed, what message are they giving everyone? That it’s all right to bully gay people if it is done through the legal system? It’s still bullying . . . and children will dumb it down on social media and in the halls and playgrounds of educational institutions.
I could go on and on with examples of state-sponsored and religion-sponsored bigotry and bullying of LGBT people, ie. Russia being the biggest example these days with its anti-LGBT legislation and the ensuing attacks by individuals on gay people. Bigotry at the highest levels has trickled down and infected the minds of young people . . .
Indeed, if society is ever going to teach children that bullying is wrong, it has to get at the root of the problem: the parents and other adults who are responsible for the ripple effects of discrimination.
aloha….. and all adults started as children….. what happened to them?….
This has been an important issue with me lately. I live in the hometown of Rehteah Parsons, who you may have heard of in recent months. For those who don’t, she was gang raped (I guess I have to say “allegedly!) by four boys at a party when she was fifteen, then bullied by her classmates in the aftermath, and a photo of the rape circulated. The police failed her; the hospital she went to for therapy failed her, and ultimately she took her own life a year and a half after the rape. I never knew this girl, and my only contact with her parents so far has been on the Facebook page her mother has set up. But I’ve been following the story closely since it became known.