Post 5.15 - Another Entry on Bullying

CNN recently aired a special by Anderson Cooper, Bullying: It Stops Here. Despite all the attention paid to the subject in the last year, bullying continues to be a major issue for US schoolchildren.

But this special was excellent, and provided a lot of new information in the form of a study they performed using high school students at a particular school on Long Island in New York. I highly recommend you take the time to watch if/when it airs again. One of the key concepts to come from the study were the categories kids fall into: aggressors, victims, and interveners. The first two are self-explanatory, but the last category, interveners, represent bystanders who choose not to be bystanders, and work to diffuse the situation by defending the victim(s) and/or shaming the aggressor(s), among other methods.

This topic hits close to home both because of what I went through in school, but because of my teenaged niece and nephew, who are living in the high school environment right now, and the child I hope to adopt soon, who will also be going through this.

My niece and nephew are great kids -- my sister and her ex-husband have done an amazing job with them. I experience them both primarily through Facebook on a day-to-day basis, which serves as an interesting window into who they are. I am not stalking them, of course, but I see how they joke with their friends, what their interests are, who they are dating, etc. And I have also had the chance to see how they deal with bullying. More specifically, how my niece deals with it.

My niece is a beautiful, talented, and from what I can tell, popular sophomore. I am biased, but I can easily see her as a leader in her circle, and not a target for bullying. But in August, just before the beginning of the current school year, her friends were talking about how they were planning to pick on the incoming freshmen. Now my niece could have joined in, or she could have said nothing, but instead, she wrote:

Dear incoming sophomores who claim to be so stoked to pick on freshmen next year. We were all freshmen a few months ago... No one did anything to us...

And I was never more proud. Proud of my sister for instilling such values, and proud of my niece for taking what could potentially be an unpopular stand and being such a strong person within herself.

So I am optimistic that things are changing for my niece, my nephew, and all the kids out there, even if the steps are slow and not happening universally.

And just for the record, my nephew rocks, too. :-)

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