Teenage Bullies Aren’t New or Good News
Cheryl offers: Whether you read about a teenager who has committed suicide in the local paper or in a magazine, see the efforts of state legislatures as they move to put new laws in place, or listen to a friend tell you about a child they know who has experienced the effects of bullying, the topic seems to be everywhere today. I can tell you from personal experience, this isn’t a new phenomena; especially among teenagers because I was a victim of it myself many years ago. It can start over the most trivial topic, like who a student votes for in a class election. That’s how mine started. It took one person’s whisper to another to set off a chain of events that made my senior year in high school a living hell. Here’s the advice I would offer anyone considering addressing this social crime. The persons involved in my situation escalated their violent behaviors to the point of being abusive spouses many years later. Left untreated, teenagers who participate in this hurtful behavior may, and likely will, resort to more violence. It’s not just a matter of punishing someone; both the offended and the offenders need emotional support and therapy. While there is no objective measure of kindness or cruelty, the results of their impact are measurable. This brings me to my favorite topic: leadership. In my case, one of the teenagers who helped escalate and ensure the ongoing bullying was considered a leader. As Daniel Goleman, Richard Boyatzis, and Annie McKee point out in Primal Leadership, “Leaders who spread bad moods are simply bad for business – and those who pass along good moods help drive a business’s success.” Bottom line: Bullies are bad for society and business. We need to address them at all ages.
There is so much buried underneath the surface in this post. You are right, and, yes, the issue is about leadership — and about civility, and simple positive human interaction. People who tear others down might continue to tear others down for a lifetime. And people who learn to build others up can also continue to do so for a lifetime.
We really do need a national “civility – let’s build each other up” movement.