Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Teen Bullying and Suicide

It seems that the term bullying has taken on a new meaning in our current culture. Every once in a while some teenager in America tragically commits suicide because they were, according to news media, bullied.

I do not doubt that kids often hurt each other by calling each other names. That has been going on since Adam and Eve's kids were caught in a case of extreme sibling rivalry. However, only recently have parents and media begun to call for new laws prohibiting it, and only recently have the kids who are being taunted, teased and harassed actually killing themselves as a result.

Why? Well, I don't know exactly why but I have some ideas. It seems to me that we have failed and are failing to prepare children and youth to endure the "Slings and arrows of unrighteous fortune" in the guise of verbal harassment. There has been a dramatic increase in the percentage of young people with depression and anxiety over the past 100 years. Despite the fact that life is much easier today than it was a century ago, kids are too often failing to meet and overcome the challenges they face.

There seems to be less resilience in people now than 1n 1909. Resilience grows out of facing and overcoming difficulties in life. It begins with encountering and overcoming small challenges and grows as we learn how to face and overcome great challenges. I fear that we are trying to shield our young people from small indignities and small challenges so when a big problem like harassment occur they are emotionally overwhelmed.

Here is my opinion for parents and grand parents. Make sure your offspring are experiencing small doses of disappointment, anger, rejection and pain. I prefer to do this through playing board games and sports. The pain of losing to someone else will help those youngsters develop the resiliency they need to face a bully or an illness. That is the only way they will develop the emotional muscles necessary to defeat the big obstacles in life.

Gary Sweeten


T.A. said...

Great post, Gary. This is the type of messages that are truly needed, but seldom heard in the media. All we seem to hear is about how to douse your kids from head to toe in Purell twice an hour. How do we get this message out?

Gary Sweeten said...

It is hard to compete with the media who wail 24 x 7 about all the evil that is making people kill themselves and why the governmrnt is responsible for stopping it by making more laws. MADD has so raised the penalties for drunk driving and the anti-drug folks have so raised thm for smoking dope that we can't find a cell for those who murder.

The Bible says that legalism causes sin to grow not shrink. Trying to scare people into making anti bully laws will make things worse because the kids will not develop the ability to fight back.

I am preaching and teaching this a lot but nobody listens to me. Maybe they prefer scare tactics.