Schools across Oklahoma have started back to school in the last two weeks and some students are thrilled to be back in class while others may hate every minute because of bullying.
Some schools like ours have welcomed students, parents and staff to pray for a safe and successful school year, which we did for over an hour and a half after our Wildcat Welcome. Despite the good turnout for our Checotah Prayer Walk, do I wish there had been even more students, parents and staff that participated? Absolutely! Don’t get me wrong, I know there are many people praying at home and at church for our next generations who are struggling to grow up in a safe space. However, the staggering truth is bullying is on the rise and preventing it doesn’t start at school, it begins at home.
We must be the ones that speak up and speak out against bullying at any level with our children and almost on a daily basis.
Unfortunately, a lot of these “bullies” may have been bullied by their own fathers, mothers, guardians, siblings and peers. They may have been made to feel not wanted or seen or even heard, like they are less than important in this life. This is often why “bullies” act out in school to prove their worth. These students may show signs of depression, low self-esteem or be the loner in a room full of popularity.
So how do we prevent bullying? First we start with communication. I truly believe that good communication and parental supervision is the key to raising compassionate children who grow up to be responsible adults. I am a firm believer that children who have parents who are present and involved in their everyday lives make better choices than those who only step in once there’s a problem at school. I do know how hard it is to be a working parent, trying to make ends meet and trying to raise responsible children but quality time makes all the difference.
I also know these little apples don’t fall far from the tree. Bullies breed bullies. Some students may be having ugly things said about them, like they are stupid or slow. Maybe they are witnessing acts of violence in the home that causes them to act out at school. If students are struggling to be kind we need to look closer at their home life.
As a parent do you talk to your child about including everyone and going out of their way for someone who might seem isolated from the group? Do you teach them to be kind and considerate to the kid who can’t afford the nicest clothes or shoes? Where will your children learn compassion if it’s not from YOU? If we want our schools to be a place free from violence then prevention must start in our homes. We must teach our children compassion and tolerance, even if someone is completely different in their beliefs or looks. We must teach them to never judge a book by its cover but by its content.
Sadly, tragedy has struck again at several school events in Oklahoma due to bullying and violence. One 16-year-old is dead and several others have been injured after a shooting at a Del City-Choctaw football game. Though the victim wasn’t from the school it was chilling to watch players and fans run for their lives as they realized what was happening. In January of this year, a similar incident had happened at the Del City High School’s basketball game.
Another 16-year-old waved a gun at a Booker T. Washington football game over the weekend in Tulsa causing a panic and a brief stampede. Then deputies took a gun away from another student who was from Pryor High School and was attending a football game in Locust Grove this past Friday. It is crazy that we might need to scan every person coming into the stadium but this is getting serious.
Now before you say that this doesn’t happen in Checotah, understand it does happen in our hometown. Maybe it hasn’t been publicized, but there have been fights that have occurred and bullying that has been dealt with. Even at our last graduation, police had to respond to a fight on the court floor as hundreds of students, parents and staff were trying to celebrate and some were trying to start trouble.
Even both of my children who graduated from Eufaula Public School suffered from being bullied at school. My son when he was only in second grade was bullied and my daughter two weeks before she graduated was bullied by a group of girls. And let me tell you, I was infuriated by the attempt to sweep the severity of the threat made “to beat my daughter’s head in with a golf club for $100.” I was one very vocal parent after that “little incident” that wasn’t handled appropriately but sometimes bullying even comes from those in authority.
I say all this not to harm or jade our local schools but so will see that WE ARE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER. Bullying is not going to go away just because we have campaigns and slogans. We are going to have to enforce our “no bullying” policies. We are going to have to start with prevention at home and work with our schools to stop this senseless violence.
We must teach the next generation that strong people stand up for themselves, but the strongest stand up for others. Every child deserves to go to school free of bullying.
Perhaps these men said it best: “The test of courage comes when we are in the minority. The test of tolerance comes when we are in the majority.” -Ralph W. Sockman “Injustice anywhere is a threat to injustice everywhere.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.
We truly are only as strong as we are united and as weak as we are divided. Prevention of bullying starts with us doing our part at home to teach our children the difference between right and wrong. Then hopefully one day we can stop all this bullying at our schools and in our nation.