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Treating others as you want to be treated is relevant at any age

By Jeff Sigmund
On March 15, 2019

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, a bully is defined as, “abuse and mistreatment of someone vulnerable by someone stronger, more powerful, etc.” This term is one that often refers to schools and children of all ages from elementary to high school students. A personal example of this is my grandson who, for the last two years, has been the victim of a bully in every definition of the word.  

This year is his first year in junior high school and in all appearances he looks, acts and is a typical student.  What is not obvious is that he has a form of autism known as Asperger Syndrome (Asperger’s). Usually, people with Asperger’s have unusual behaviors and interests in addition to social challenges. When harassed or bothered to a certain point, one may have a “blowup” or get really upset. This very thing happened two weeks ago. My grandson was harassed and taunted by the same group of students who knew if they pushed him long enough, he would react and he did. Some may view this as an extreme case but shouldn’t any case of bullying be considered unacceptable? 

There are those who see it as a part of life and many think it ends with high school but does it? Sadly, bullying is also present on college campuses. As someone who attends a lot of events here on campus, I can tell you that bullying is alive and going strong here at Kirkwood from the narrow halls in Linn Hall to the bleachers in Johnson Hall as well as in The Café and classrooms all around. 

 Just the other day I overheard a student who seemed very upset say, “I heard them say I should drop because I’m too dumb.” I’ve also witnessed students calling out others during a game, stating they should sit down and let someone else who can play in their place. The list can go on and on and unfortunately many are guilty from younger students to non-traditionals, staff and faculty. 

It’s important to remember there are many types of bullying that exist but I think one of the biggest is social bullying. This is sometimes referred to as relational bullying because it involves hurting someone’s reputation or relationships. Examples of this include but are not limited to: leaving someone out on purpose, telling others not to be friends with someone, spreading rumors or embarrassing someone in public. I think we have all been guilty of this in one form or another at some point in our lives. 

 So, what is the answer to stop bullying? It’s a big problem and not just one solution will fix it but I have a few suggestions for us all.  Think before you speak or as I call it, “engage your brain before you open your mouth.” Take a step back and think about how you would feel and if you would like it, which you probably would not. Instead, help make someone’s day better with a simple hello or a smile because you never know who might need it and it makes you feel better, too. 

I encourage the thought of being the type of person who makes anyone you should come across feel perfectly okay with being who they are. Being at peace because of good intentions and a pure heart is a great place to be at the end of the day and allows each of us to do our part to stop bullying one day at a time. 

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