My blog today is related to 20/20’s episode last Friday that has been all over the Internet this past week: “Bullied to Death” and to Lee Hirsch’s “The Bully Project.” I’m not posting links as they are so easy to find if you chose to google them. Instead, I want to address what wasn’t addressed in either video.
Who is truly accountable for the behavior of the bullies? In my opinion, we as members of society are all accountable for the meanness we are seeing in our schools. Even bystanders have a responsibility to step up and speak up to protect the victims. I hold the schools accountable for my children’s safety when they are under their watch, so yes they do need to have bully prevention programs. They especially need to protect special needs children. However, I hold one group more accountable than any other.
That group is the parents of the bullies because they are not instilling the importance of kindness in their children. You may not agree with me and that is okay. You may believe the parents are unaware and perhaps some of them are. You may say, but they had no way of knowing their child’s actions would cause a child to kill themselves. You may even say it is impossible to police your children 100 percent of the time. You may say another child influenced the child so the parent isn’t to blame.
I say regardless of other influences the first major influence in a child’s life is the parent, but my reason for holding the parent responsible does not end there. You see I know something that some parents seem to have forgotten. I am legally responsible for my children until they reach age eighteen unless they are emancipated. Therefore, I think we actually need to hold the parents responsible. If schools get the bullies’ parents more involved in a way that is not punitive then I think we can really make a positive change.
Let me be clear, I have no desire to sue the parents, although if either of my children are ever severely bullied again, I would not rule this out as an option. I would rather see parents have an understanding of their responsibility, without all the hassle of having to force it upon them.
Remember, I’m all about the importance of forgiveness. Therefore, if they can understand their responsibility, make an earnest effort to teach tolerance and kindness, and get their children to truly understand the consequences of being mean, I will totally forgive them. I think it is time to teach the parents that they have not just an ethical responsibility to teach kindness, but that they also have a legal responsibility to teach kindness to avoid being sued for the damages their unkind children cause.
I think you should know that I hold both of my children accountable for their actions. They have both been taught how wrong it is to be mean. I even had a psychologist tell me once that I made my children to kind. I don’t think this is a bad thing.