Today is National Stop Bullying Day.

It got me thinking to something Taylor and I saw in the Heights over Labor Day Weekend.  I was paying at Walgreens, and these teen girls came in the store.  They didn't have shoes on, so they were asked to leave.  We were all leaving at the same time, and when I walked outside, there were 4 or 5 teenage girls, waiting to accost them!  It was absolutely ridiculous.  What was worse, was there was someone in their late 20's/early 30's with these kids, and she was being a worse bully than the teens!  Both of us were really upset by this situation, so we monitored it.  We followed them, ready to intervene, if these 4 or 5 girls and their Mom (lol!) did anything to the other 2.  We followed them for about 4 blocks, then the girls they were attacking went into a house.  It was good to see them safe, but we were still disturbed by the group mentality.  Who knows or cares what happened to start this whole situation.  (I'm pretty sure it has something to do with a boy and facebook, right?)

What's epically disturbing is the group bullying mentality.  At least, when I was a kid, it was usually one-on-one with the bully.  Now a kid has to fight, or stand up for themselves, to an entire posse.  It's getting worse all of the time.  This generation has a very real phobia of being alone.  Being in a group all the time, poses all kinds of unique situations, including group bullying.  With all of the technology we have today, the group mentality has glorified violent situations by taping and texting or  posting the episodes.  They glorify the one who beats the tar out of the other, and posting it on the web makes them feel larger than life.

Another trend that bugs me is how violent our girls are becoming.  Don't get me wrong.  We've taught all of our kids to never ever start a fight, however, never ever back down from a fight either.  In other words, don't be a tool, but defend yourself from the tools of the world.  When I lived in Oregon, it amazed me that nearly every day after school, Taylor would tell me another story of girls getting into fights at school.  She even got into a fight because a girl literally jumped her and started punching her in the library.  She did what she was supposed to do and fought back.  I totally agreed with the principal that they both needed to be suspended.  (However, I also gave Taylor $20 and took her out to dinner for defending herself.)  Guess what?  That girl (and no other girls or guys) never bothered Taylor again, and in a few months they were the best of friends.  She's even coming to visit us next month.

As adults, the protectors of all children, not just our own, we have to take a stand.  You don't need to be a bully to stop a bully.  However, nothing stops on in their tracks like someone who isn't afraid of them.  All it takes is one person to stand up to the bully, ideally in front of others, to blow the wind right out of their sails.  If you have to intervene in a random episode, like the one I described above, then do it.  The very best defense is to teach our children that bullying is not cool.  We also need to teach our children to take a stand against a bully.  To hide the fear and stand up for what's right.  Stand up for the kid who is too afraid to do it themselves.  It's amazing how just one person taking a stand can change an entire group.

I'm on a soap-box here, but parents, it all starts with us.  We must empower our children to do the right thing.

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