I just signed the following petition addressed to: The United States Senate and United States Public Education System.
Friendship should be a rite of passage, and not a privilege, but for many of our children friendship is no where near their rite of passage...but sadly BULLYING is. Our children are suffering in silence because they have been branded as different by their peers for any given reason, due to a disability, sexual orientation, appearance, shyness, being the new kid, jealousy issues, or simply because they are just misunderstood. How can we even expect our kids to thrive academically...when they are defeated even before they walk through the school door. When we do nothing about social isolation and bullying, we are in fact promoting it.
Social isolation is actually the lesser of all the bullying evils; the more common forms of bullying are physical abuse, verbal abuse, mental torture and of course cyber-bullying...and this vicious cycle will continue to be a revolving door...unless we realize that the current bullying laws in place are not effective because they only address the problem, and not the solution!
How can we stop this disgrace and tragedy in America? Well, we first need to accept that there is a problem; and we need to understand that bullying happens when authoritative figures are not looking. When I say "WE"... I mean the parents, I mean the students, I mean the community, I mean the school district, and most importantly..the law makers. Punishing a bully for their actions is merely putting out fires...we are not addressing the victim and their needs.
The effects of social isolation and bullying are not only alarming, but they are DEADLY. Victims can be plunged into depression and have lifelong emotional scars; for SOME, the pain is just too much to bear…and the only choice they can conceive…is SUICIDE!
It is nothing less than an embarrassment that WE, as a society cannot do better for our children. I for one am going to do my part and try to create a movement that will start a national discussion about demanding a REAL SOLUTION to the problem.
The solution is for for law makers to require every school, from Kindergarten through college to adopt and enforce a buddy program in order to eliminate social isolation and bullying.
By enforcing a buddy program we are:
1- Saving at risk children from suicide and depression
2- Eliminating social isolation and bullying
3- Creating socially responsible leaders of tomorrow
This may sound daunting...but when it comes to creating a buddy program, THE GOOD NEWS IS....we don't have to reinvent the wheel. We can take notes from the Kennedy/Shriver organization called BEST BUDDIES. This once local organization has now extended their reach internationally with their buddy program. It is quite impressive that such a brilliant idea can spread across oceans, but tragic that we are still chasing our tails trying to find a solution that was created right in our own backyard.
We can also look at the impressive work of Dr. Jed Baker who even shared his buddy program system on national tv back in 2007.
By creating this buddy program across all schools, we are not only eliminating the power of the bully, and the helplessness of the bystander, but we will be creating a movement that will have endless possibilities for all that are touched by this program. I can see college scholarships being granted to outstanding buddies and lifelong friendships being formed. It is the least we could do to honor the memories all of the innocent young people that didn't have an opportunity to see such a program.
The problem is complicated, but the solution is simple. We all need FRIENDSTOGROW.