October 6, 2011

Bullying Prevention Month

Bullying A Violation of Human Rights

October is Bullying Prevention Month; the increase of bullying in schools, communities, neighborhoods, and even churches has continued to show how bullying is affecting lives. The growing awareness across the country even in political circles creates a mindset that Bullying is a violation of Human Rights to those being threatened, harassed and violated with words and actions, threats and intimidations. The United Nations Preamble to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) states ”Whereas it is essential, if man is not to be compelled to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression, that human rights should be protected by the rule of law.” These works concerning Human Rights originated from the atrocities of both World Wars. It cannot be stated that bullying is not a serious action when young people have committed suicide or murder as the results of unwanted actions of others.

The denial of universal rights of safety and freedom from persecution for any reason is a violation of a person’s rights. Bullying has received noticeable attention through the unfortunate deaths of bright, talented, and intelligent young people. Young people so full of life, the spark of living glowing with the potential to bring love, happiness and hope into this world, but that spark was extinguished by the actions of others through continuous, unrelenting, intentional, and demoralizing acts of bullying and even growing cyberbullying.

Teaching over 20years in public and higher education I have conducted presentations on bullying to young people, to develop in them an understanding the seriousness of the demoralizing actions that have caused fear, anguish, mental and emotional damage that physical damage can never compare to. There seems to be a disconnection in the reality of what bullying actually does and how it has long term effects on the victim and perpetrator. Children starting from 3 years of age have the potential to bully, learned from either modeled behaviors or executing them on their own displaying power over another individual. Usually children at this early age perform these actions to get what they want from other children and learn this behavior which continues unless intervention strategies are imposed to change these behaviors.

The White House holding a conference on bullying, in 2010, Mrs. Obama's speech directly related to her focus that everyone involved with children has a responsibility to be involved and accountable when working with children To teach appropriate behaviors and involved in schools, communities and churches; prevention and education is the key to change the mindset of bullying. Mrs. Obama made a sincere plea for parents to model appropriate and accountable behaviors; parents (adults) are children’s primary mentors, role models and teachers. There is a dire need for parents to be more engaged with their children to talk to children and consider as parents their own behaviors. Parent sets the example on how their children act, if a parent accepts a bullying or violent behavior, the child will continue to display and accelerate these behaviors.
I can relate to what President Obama said about kids being bullied at school, I have witnessed bullying in the elementary environment even though studies show that bullying is more prevalent in Middle School environments, but there is a transition from Elementary to Middle School. Data shows the seriousness is evident in studies by the Department of Education (1999); American children eight to 15 years of age rate bullying as a greater problem than racism or pressure to have sex or use alcohol and other drugs.

During a presentation (I Will Survive Bullying) myself and Cheryl Williams, LPN conducted at the Boys and Girls Club Keystone Leadership Conference (Orlando, Florida, March 2011) youth from across the country shared their fears, apprehensions and their distress on attending school because of the threat of bullying. These youth reflections demonstrate and give a testimony that students cut school, do not eat lunch, do not ride the school bus, carry weapons or are fearful of walking home because of bullying. Even President Obama has stated that; "We cannot turn a blind eye to bullying any longer. Children are taking their lives or taking the lives of others." The National Threat Assessment Center found that the attackers in more than two thirds of school shootings, stabbings and violence felt "persecuted, bullied, threatened, attacked, or injured by others," and that revenge was an underlying motive (American Medical Association 2004).Cheryl Williams (LPN), states that the underlying stress and anxiety from bullying lasts a life time. It can lead to personality disorders, emotional instability, drug/substance abuse, unhealthy dietary changes and to the extreme suicidal thoughts and actions.

The definition of bullying centers around; a person repeatedly, and over time, exposed to negative comments or actions by another person or group. These negative actions can cause injury (physical violence) or emotional discomfort to another person (name calling, spreading rumors) and mental distress (low self-esteem, demoralization, suicidal thoughts); Virtualmedicalcentre.com 2009.

Human Rights are "the rights and freedoms to which all humans are entitled." The universal concepts that all human beings are born free and equal in dignity, rights, happiness. Humans are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood) Article 1 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR)

The United States of America is a model for the world, the statement that, "We hold these truths that all men are created equal, endowed with the unalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" (United States Declaration of Independence). Parents must model appropriate behavior, set high expectations of moral and ethical character. Bullying is a violation of Human Rights and must be stopped with education, compassion, empathy and love.

William Jackson, M.Ed.
Cheryl Williams (LPN) is available as a medical professional to talk at conferences for youth, teens, tweens, girls and young women on bullying and personal health matters. Ms. Williams has been a medical professional for over 20 years.

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