160,000 children in the United States stay home because of bullying.
Bullying is a form of abuse that can have long-term effects on youthful
victims, robbing them of self-esteem, isolating them from their peers, causing
them to drop out of school, and even prompting health problems and suicide.
There's even a growing number of American kids who say they have been picked on via text messaging. Teen text bullying, such as spreading rumors, is on the rise.
THE JEWISH DAILY FORWARD staff (Nov. 9, 2013) wrote about an "oysforshung" (investigation) about complaints that Jewish students enrolled in the Pine Bush Central School District--which covers seven townships located in Ulster, Sullivan and Orange Counties--were subjected to harassment and discrimination.
The New York Times reported that anti-Semitic bullying and taunting and the drawing of swastikas and other graffiti in the school system has grown so severe ("shtreng") in recent years that three Jewish families had sued the district, claiming that their children's rights where being violated.
The former superintendent of the school district, Philip C. Steinberg, called the lawsuit a "money grab" and that the allegations are "embellished." "Keyner iz nit azoy toyb vi der vos vil nit hern." (No one is as deaf as one who will not listen.)
New York Attorney General, Eric Schneiderman, said, "We will not turn a blind eye to instances of bullying that leave physical or psychological scars on children of all ages."
Yes, school bullying is on the rise in New York and across "dos land" (the country).
And Rita Y. Toews ("The Bully - A Discussion and Activity Book") says that "encountering a bully is one of the toughest situations a child can face." Intimidation, harassment, and abuse--bullying among students--has reached epidemic proportions, and it's taking a heavy toll on our kids. Overweight ("ibervog") children are much more likely to be bullied--60% more if they are obese. Studies showed that it made no difference whether the child was "raykh" (rich) or "orem" (poor); male or female, white, black or Hispanic; or living in a community where many other children were obese. Nor did it matter if the child had good social skills or did well in school. The child who was obese was simply more likely to be bullied than the child who was not.
Bullying isn't new. In the mid ‘40s, I attended P. S. 42 in Arverne, New York, and there were bullies who grabbed other children's lunch money. They threatened them with physical harm. Adults did not say, "Boys will be boys" or "It's a normal part of childhood." IT'S JUST PLAIN WRONG!
Today the headlines read:
EVEN BIG GUYS CAN BE BULLIED (USA Today, 11/6/13)
This article by Erik Brady and Jim Corbett discusses "sports hazing." "Hazing and bullying are often associated with school cafeterias and college fraternities," says the authors. However, a 300-pound lineman can also be bullied!
Miami Dolphins tackle, Jonathan Martin, left the team after an incident in the team's cafeteria. Richie Incognito received voice mail featuring racially-charged threats. BTW, Incognito is 319 lbs. and Martin is 312 lbs.!
Jonathan Martin should be applauded for going public about the way he was harassed. Bullying is unacceptable and should never be tolerated. (FYI: The Yiddish word meaning "to tolerate" is "tolerirn.") Rookie players should not be subjected to the so-called rites of passage.
There have been some other very "umetik" (sad) sad stories about bullying.
Rebecca Sedwick was a 12 year-old girl from Winter Haven, Florida. She was tormented by a 14 and a 12-year-old girl. The girls were charged with stalking
and released to their parents. Rebecca Sedwick committed suicide ("zelbstmord").
She is one of at least a dozen ("tuts") or so suicides in the U. S. over the past three years. Many were attributed to at least in part to CYBERBULLYING.
Note: When bullying results in suicide (bullycide), the coroner usually records an open verdict. Unlike a physical injury or physical cause of death, a psychiatric injury cannot be studied and recorded after death. All the coroner has is (sometimes) the suicide letter and "ale mol" (always) the DENIAL of everyone who contributed to the bullycide: the bullies, the witnesses of bullying, and those in authority who should have acted but didn't. Invariably greater weight is attached to these denials than to the written and reported testimony of the deceased who has been tormented to death and to the deceased's family who have lived through (and continue to live) the nightmare. The open verdict, which may be legally correct, is NOT going to relieve the suffering of the family or enable the perpetrators to be held accountable for their sins of commission and omission.
And just this year, police have arrested a 12-year-old Stamford, CT girl on charges of disorderly conduct, accusing the youngster of bullying a female classmate to such an extent the victim considered suicide."
In 2010, we had the case of Tyler Clementi, the Rutgers University freshman who jumped off the George Washington Bridge after a sexual encounter with another man was broadcast online. His death is just one of several suicides by "yung" (young) gay teenagers who had been harassed by classmates both in person and online.
The Jewish Herald-Voice (Nov 7, 2013) reported that a New York restaurant deliveryman was awarded $900,000 for enduring 16 years of anti-Semitic harrassment by 3 supervisors.
Adam Wiercinski worked at Mangia 57 restaurant in Manhattan. One manager would pass gas in front of Wiercinski and then joke that it was Zyklon B, which was used in the Nazi gas chambers during the Holocaust.
Supervisors called him a "dirty Jew" and threw pennies at him while making anti-Semitic comments; they also docked his tips.
Why didn't he quit? (The Yiddish word meaning "to quit" is "oyfhern.") Because he felt he was too old to get a new job.
Peg Tyre ("The Trouble WithBoys: A Surprising Report Card on Our Sons, Their Problems at School and What Parents & Educators Must Do"). reminds us of these facts:
MARJORIE GOTTLIEB WOLFE says that "bullying" is "a shande un a kharpe"--a shame and a disgrace. The solution to bullying is to address and attack bullying in preschool-- "vos gikher, alts beser"--the faster the better.
More Majorie Wolfe
All Things Jewish
Jewish Communities of the World