Anti-bullying effort should go beyond the school walls
Bullying is something that Crook County's school leaders continually and vigilantly battle each day as hundreds of children from a variety of backgrounds and families interact.
And it's a good thing they put so much emphasis on it because with so many personalities and unique experiences thrown into such large melting pot, it is the perfect time to teach young, impressionable minds how to treat others and how to handle times when somebody is not treating them in a respectful, kind manner.
The schools should be commended for this effort and the amount of time, money and other resources they commit to the effort. While it won't completely rid the schools of bullying — as one principal points out, kids will probably always do mean things or get picked on — it should hopefully decrease the frequency of such occurrences and instill a culture that promotes compassion and respect.
But this is not a lesson that should stay within the confines of the school walls. This community, family, friends and neighbors, all have an opportunity to promote this culture of kindness and respect in the home and out on the local streets.
This should start in the home as parents raise their children and prepare them for life in the real world. Children should know before they ever walk out of their home how to treat their fellow human beings with compassion and dignity. Once they get beyond their front door, neighbors and friends likewise have an opportunity to impart their influence. Not only should they encourage kind and respectful behavior, they should be willing to speak up when they witness mean-spirited or bullying behavior.
It's a cliché expression, but it really does take a community to raise a child, and the more we promote a culture of respect and kindness, the more likely it is that children will carry that behavior into their adult life.
This effort is all the more critical when considering that social media has created an environment in which more and more people lash out and say harmful things behind a shroud of anonymity. It doesn't take a long look at Facebook or comment threads of news stories to learn that people are growing more and more willing to sit behind a computer keyboard and say hurtful things without any regard for how they are impacting another person.
Cyberspace will only grow more sophisticated and technological advances will only create more avenues for people to lash out at one another in an environment where lack of actual human contact makes it easier and easier to up the ante when it comes to harmful words.
Yes, bullying and mean-spirited behavior will never completely go away, but what does this community have to lose if people follow the lead of the schools and make a conscious effort to combat such behavior and create a kinder local culture? It might just make a community that many people already love that much better.