April 13, 2014 by gregrabidoux2013
Man, we do give our kids some mixed messages, don’t we? Little wonder they either come away confused, angry or convinced we adults are mostly hypocritical. Which, truth be told, we, too often, are guilty as charged.
Let me explain.
A mother, Eula McCray, in upstate New York was arrested recently on charges of manacing, child endangerment, and inciting violence.
Her alleged crime?
She encouraged, more specifically, she commanded her 10 year-old daughter to “use her fists” and to “fight” and “hurt” a fellow 10 year-old girl in a street fight caught on camera.
While she awaits resolution of her case, Ms. McCray is not permitted to have full custody of her daughter and may only visit her with child services supervision.
But why did this Mom yell at her kid to fight in the first place?
Ms. McCray claims that for nearly two years her daughter has been bullied and harassed by this alleged female bully whom she fought. For two long years, McCray says that her daughter lived in fear, frustration and refused to “stand up” for herself. It seems that out of desperation a fight was more or less set-up so it could end one way or the other.
Who among us hasn’t been bullied at some point? Or been told, or told someone else “not to back down” and “stand up for yourself.” Which in translation usually means resort to physical violence because as we all know that’s the only thing bullies understand. Right?
And now she (the Mom) may spend time in jail for the way she handled this bullying-fight incident.
While I was trying to make sense of this bullying-brawl a few items that unfolded close to the same time-frame as this caught my eye.
In Florida, another Mom, Irisdaly Rios, aged 35, was caught on camera grabbing, scratching and punching a 12 year old student in a middle school parking lot. The Mom in this case says she lost control and felt she had run out of options after pleading with authorities to stop this 12 year old from allegedly bullying her own daughter.
Edmond Aviv, aged 62, was ordered to wear a sign saying that “I am a Bully” by a judge in South Euclid, Ohio. Aviv was convicted of bullying his neighbor Sandra Pugh. This bullying senior citizen blew kerosene from a fan into his neighbor’s home, frequently hurled racial slurs at Sandra’s two African-American adopted children and apparently, for good measure, threw dog feces on her yard and front porch.
Seems “Aviv the Bully” couldn’t cope with the fact that Sandra’s kids were disabled, one had cerebral palsy, one had epilepsy and that her husband suffered from dementia.
Bullies tend to pick on those who are different and have perceived or actual weakness in case you didn’t know.
Last night Manny Pacquiao, a legendary fighter from the Philippines traded body and brain blows with his opponent Timothy Bradley. While both left the extended exchange bloody and a bit dazed, Manny was awarded the championship’s belt. Both earned millions for their aggressiveness and ability to inflict and accept pain. We call this contained aggression the “Sweet Science.”
Ms. Rhonda Rousey and Ms. Gina Carano are in talks to possibly have a “Match of the Ages” a “cage fight” with “no holds barred” according to their camps’ public relations team. In case the names are not familiar these are two professional, female wrestler-fighters. According to television rating points, audience approval soars when these two grown-up girls pull and rip at each other’s hair and if blood is drawn the approval soars even higher. Both of these women promise to give the public what they thirst for-Stay tuned.
So, it seems that bullying, fighting and beating someone up is wrong except for when it’s right.
Maybe if the Mom had charged her neighbors money to watch the fight and awarded the winner a kids belt of honor.
The White House Task Force on bullying in America asserts that we have a “Bullying Epidemic.”
Just how bad is this “epidemic of bullying violence?”
—Everyday in the US about 160,000 kids stay home from school out of fear of being bullied.
—Teen bullying victims are nearly 10 times more likely to commit suicide than non-bullied teens.
—A reported 25% of high school kids serious consider suicide every year, bullying is nearly always a major influencing factor
—5,000 or more deaths of teens are caused each year by bullying violence
And this next statistic won’t provide any relief to Ms. McCray;
—10-14 year-old girls are the highest at-risk category now to consider and commit suicide as a result of being bullied.
And despite hopes that teen “Fight Clubs” would vanish once the allure of wanting to be like Brad Pitt in the movie “Fight Club” subsided, such “clubs” continue to flourish. In fact, adults have joined in the “fun” serving as coaches. As one adult who chose to be anonymous argued, “teen girls and boys have to become men and women sometime. This (fight clubs) helps them.”
Gee, I’m starting to see the merits of kids staying home and wasting time playing violent video games. But starting isn’t finishing.
I do remain convinced though that, as adults, we need to be more aware of the mixed messages we send to our children when the topic turns to bullying and violence.
To pretend we don’t live in and cultivate a culture of violence is simply to willfully be unaware or offer a feigned, dangerous ignorance of reality.
We say bullying and physical assault and violence is wrong. We hold annual “Bullying Summits” to try and identify the roots of why kids bully and commit horrific acts of violence like the recent student stabbings in Pennsylvania. Yet, we enable a culture of violence through the video games we purchase and play, the movies we make and watch, the entertainment we pay for and the fights between kids we encourage, cheer at and coach. Whether it’s overt, like a fight club or more subtle like at a toddler football practice.
We revel in organized violent spectacles as we fork over big bucks to watch grown adults beat each other to a bloody pulp in rings or cages.
And when it’s over we expect our children to understand that such bullying and violence is wrong. You know, except when it’s right.
I get that our sports are often physically combative and violent. It’s just somehow it seems that our kids are getting confused about the messages we are sending them on bullying, violence and what it means to be men and women in our culture.
Maybe its coming from the inherent confusion in the messages being sent in the first pace.
Or, in short, just what is a mother of a bullied kid to do?
[After the Tiger there are some links with more information on bullying prevention and intervention, including a video with First Lady Michelle Obama on the Ellen Show discussing our culture of violence and bullying]