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A Shocking View of Bullying

Carl Matthes: Suicide is the third leading cause of death among young people, resulting in about 4,400 deaths per year, according to the CDC. For every suicide among young people, there are at least 100 suicide attempts.

I would imagine that Amy Hatch, a freelance writer contributing to the Huffington Post, is as good a mother as she is a writer. However, neither of those occupations prepared her to write intelligently about the deadly scourge that infects the lives of too many American teens and pre-teens and, in the case of Ms. Hatch’s daughter, in pre-kindergarten: bullying.


In her updated August 3, 2011 Huff Post article entitled, “Dealing with Bullying: Why It Isn’t All Bad,” Ms. Hatch discloses, “When my daughter started a full-day pre-kindergarten program, it never occurred to me that she would be bullied, but that's exactly what happened.”

So far, so good. No parent wants to believe that their young child is going to be bullied in school. Perhaps, by the time their child is in double-digits - 10 and above - tales of schoolyard drama and bullying have made there way to the family’s dinner table. And, as Ms. Hatch relates, “Night after night, as we watched the seasons change outside her bedroom window, she spilled her tales of woe about this slight or that insult during our bedtime cuddle.” The tales of woe were accompanied with, according to Ms. Hatch, “...a dollop of tears.”

OK, let’s hold it right there. Dollop? Using a term usually associated with the amount of whipped or ice cream on a dessert, to describe a large amount of tears from a five-year old who is being bullied, raises big questions over Ms. Hatch’s parenting/listening skills. She then dismisses her child’s emotional display by writing, “My kid is a lot like me, which means she's extremely sensitive and inclined to take any negative remark made about her as the gospel truth.”

So, let me get this straight. Your five-year old daughter has been “cuddle-talking” or, more accurate, “cuddle-crying” with you for almost a year about being bullied and you have taken no action because, as Ms. Hatch explains, “The urge to pick up the phone and raise holy hell was almost unbearable. But I didn't -- at least not until the school year was just about over -- because I didn't want to be THAT mom.” Hey, Ms. Hatch, are you vying for the title of “Model Mother of Decorum”?

To dramatize the gravity of this parental deafness, what if the title of Ms. Hatch’s article was, “Dealing with Molesting: Why it isn’t All Bad.” The scenario? Daddy has been slipping into his daughter’s bedroom to do his own type of “bedtime cuddling.” Your five-year old is upset and crying about his visits. What are your responsibilities, Ms. Hatch?

Would you fall back on your bullying logic that, “Stepping in to micro-manage every aspect of your kid's life is a mistake. It robs children of the ability to deal with conflict and rejection. It saps their independence. It labels them, in the eyes of their peers, teachers and administrators, as weak.”

Obviously you could benefit from a strong course in the effects of bullying. Especially with young, young children.

Bullying is a form of intimidation or domination toward someone who is perceived as being weaker or different. Through some type of coercion or force, the bully desires superiority/domination over their victim. Bullying happens with attempts at physical abuse, verbal or emotional intimidation and occurs in school, the neighborhood, through e-mail, in chatrooms, via text messaging and on Facebook. The aim of bullying is to
promote self-hate, fear, guilt, embarrassment and humiliation.”

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I believe Ms. Hatch doesn’t understand bullying. She writes, “Making a big deal out of the little stuff will give you less credibility and diminish your power to advocate for your kid when it really counts. Don't forget the tale of the little boy who cried wolf.”

To make my point, Ms. Hatch finally “sprang” into action at the end of the school year, “My kids are precious to me and the very idea of someone hurting a single hair on their heads makes me roar like the mama lion of lore, and if I felt either of them was in real danger I would step in with all the force I could muster. I did just that, when my daughter finally reported that her enemy had pushed and scratched her at recess, out of sight of the teachers, one day close to the end of the school year.”

A whole school year before speaking up? In my opinion, too little, too late. The bully or abuser counts on the silence of the victim to be able to continue their activity.

The statistics on bullying which leads to suicide are alarming:

  • Suicide is the third leading cause of death among young people, resulting in about 4,400 deaths per year, according to the CDC. For every suicide among young people, there are at least 100 suicide attempts.
  • A study in Britain found that at least half of suicides among young people are related to bullying.
  • According to ABC News, nearly 30 percent of students are either bullies or victims of bullying, and 160,000 kids stay home from school every day because of fear of bullying.

Whose checking the articles at Huffington Post?

And, Ms. Hatch, perhaps you could write another article, “Dealing with Spousal Abuse: Why It Isn’t All Bad.”

Carl Matthes