I missed the initial report on the viral video that shows the grandmother-like bus monitor being bullied by a group of 11-year olds. Then I listened to my coworkers discuss it. And then I watched it myself.
What I saw horrified me.
A group of 11-year old middle school students taunted this grandmother-like woman. They teased her. They made comments about her hair, her hearing aids, her weight. They mocked her. They even POKED and prodded her.
Matt Lauer asked if any of the students came forward to apologize. They have not.
And then, like most viewers, I stopped to ask myself how and why this has happened?
The answer is very simple: As parents, we are failing our children.
It’s as simple as that.
For although this occurred in upstate New York, this could have happened in any of our neighborhoods.
For today is the age of the Trophy Generation.
And for all the positives that have gone along with this, this type of parenting has left out instilling a sense of respect and kindness to others in our kids.
If you don’t think so, then ask why bullying is such a problem in our society and in our schools today.
It wasn’t back in the 60s and 70s.
Sure, we had our occasional bullying episode but it wasn’t anything close to the near epidemic we have today.
Growing up in the 60s/70s in suburbia was an amazing time to be a kid: walking to school with my friends and then playing outside by ourselves until our parents called us home. Our days were spent making up games, riding our bikes and roller skating (remember when skates still had keys?).
No electronics. No phones. And no parents hovering over us.
Geez. That just messed up my whole nostalgic image (sorry, Mom).
We also had each others’ backs. And we practiced respect and kindness to others since it was instilled in us – and expected – at home.
So I’d like to pass along a few things that stuck with me from my childhood that I’d like to pass along to the parents – and the kids – of today.
- Show respect. People will remember you for it and appreciate it. Call people older than you by Mr., Mrs. or Miss (Aunt and Uncle are also acceptable for people closer to you, with approval from your parents)
- Manners are important. Use them – especially PLEASE and THANK YOU. They are not just nice sounding words; they mean something more.
- Write thank you notes. If a person took the time to buy you a gift, take the time to write them a note (ok, so in today’s world, an email can work. Just remember to make it genuine and heartfelt. Tell them what the gift means to you).
- Look out for the little guy: Protect those who are smaller or younger than you.
- Practice the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you (or don’t do something nasty to someone since you wouldn’t like it either).
- Build good character: No one said life would be easy. And it’s not always easy to do the right thing. But both build character and having a good character is priceless. (And seriously, if I only had a dollar for everytime my parents told me that it “builds character,” I would be living on a beautiful island!!)
- Stand up for yourself: Don’t do something because all your friends are doing it; do it because it’s the right thing to do.
- When you do something wrong, say you are sorry. Apologize in person. Look the person in the eye and make it meaningful. (And it’s never too late to say you are sorry. You need to make it right).
- Behave in public: You never know who is watching (someone always is and sometimes it’s someone your parents know).
- Don’t lie: It’s easier – and nobler – to tell the truth. And no one likes, trusts or respects a liar (besides, you will always get caught).
As for the kids on the bus, I suggest you start with #8. It’s not too late. I know of a sweet woman who at the very least, deserves a genuine apology.