“Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me.”
That old children’s rhyme was taught to me as a kid. Perhaps in another time that might have made a positive impact on children and helped their self-esteem but as we grow older we realize how much words can hurt. Last week, I watched the recent You Tube video of the school bus monitor, Karen, who was verbally bullied and harassed by some middle school boys in Greece, New York. (Here is a link to it but beware of offensive language and content.) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l93wAqnPQwk
I was horrified to watch what was considered a practical joke filmed on a cell phone by boys who are old enough to know right from wrong. I became angry and so upset and felt such sadness and compassion for Karen. I have read many articles, blogs and You Tube responses to this pitiful event. I have read hateful remarks to those boys and I have read many compassionate statements toward Karen. There have been philosophical responses about how this is an example of the breakdown of our society. Then there is the assumption response that the parents are to blame and that schools need to take a more active role in preventing this kind of bullying.
We all want to attack this kind of event from all sides. As a parent and teacher, I want to see those boys punished. As a woman, I want to reach out to Karen and let her know that I stand in support of her and hate that she was so harassed in that way. (I can’t even imagine what I would have done in that situation.) However, as a Christian my heart goes out to those boys. I just keep thinking how do young boys get to a place of total disgusting behavior? How are they so void of empathy? How are they so void of any moral character?
Maybe the parents are at fault in how they are raising those boys. Perhaps the school hasn’t dealt with the growing problem of bullying or maybe we as a society are to blame. I could throw my own philosophical perspective into the ring. I know I have seen my own share of disrespect among kids and teenagers but it usually goes hand in hand with disrespect from their parents. I have witnessed the positive efforts from school systems in trying to preach the anti-bullying campaigns only to have to deal with instances like this over and over again. I have even felt weary of raising my own children in a society that seems to lower morality at an ever increasing rate.
My heart and thoughts always come back to those boys and their lack of moral character. What would cause them to treat another human being in that way? The only thing that I can reason in my mind is if they could only understand that life is more than those hurtful words spoken to their bus monitor. Their very existence is because of a man who chose to die on a cross. Jesus Christ was cursed (like Karen) and blasphemed, went through physical pain and death on a cross to then roll the stone away. If only those boys would understand that Christ gave up his life for Karen and for them. Then perhaps they would understand empathy and see Karen the way God sees her. We can attack this issue on all sides but it comes down to teaching the Cross and the love of Jesus. It gives a whole new meaning to “Sticks and Stones”.