Effects of bullying can last a lifetime

Cathy Brownfield

When we watch media reports showing adults using bullying tactics to fuel division in this country, how can we not expect bullying at every level of our society? If we want our children to be kind, they need to see kindness at work around them. If we want our children to accept others, we must assure that they see us walking the walk that we keep talking about. If we spew angry, ugly words that spell hatred, our children will learn to hate. If we bully others, will our children not follow in our footsteps?


There is something called The Lions Toast from Lions International: Not above you, not below you, but with you.

When you hear media reports of hatred, do you go out into your world and see for yourself, with your own eyes, what happens out there? Little League sports is a good example. In the spring I see coaches out on the ball field teaching children baseball. There are serious moments. There are funny moments. There are wonderful, warm moments on that diamond as the coaches, many of them men – fathers – from many walks of life who respect each other, work together to make a difference in those young lives. They encourage every child. And for some of those children, the male coaches are the only male role model they have for that short season of time. Do you see the importance of adults interacting constructively, positively, with all the children, promoting fair play, the love of the game, how to take on challenges, and how to do their best in whatever they do?

Sports, dance, academics, music – whatever the child’s interest is – grownups help children to understand setting up and achieving goals, to keep going in the face of defeat. All children. Not just certain people’s children.

Think of your childhood for a moment. Were you the kid – or do you remember the kid – that was picked on because he was smaller and appeared weaker? (Ever hear the line, “I may be small but I am mighty” or “Might comes in small packages”?) Or what about the girl who was picked on because she looked like a rag doll and you just knew what a bad life she must have at home. We are talking about the kids nobody wanted to be friends with because they weren’t like everyone else you hung out with.


But did you ever take the time to talk to that one boy or girl kindly, to look at the person inside? And how did you feel when you watched her shrink into herself because she sensed she was unacceptable? Did you notice? Or did you enjoy seeing her discomfort? Did you think about the meanness, the bullying? And what did your heart feel? Did you imagine what that boy or girl would become when he or she grew up?

Adversity has a way of teaching the realities of life, and the need to be armed with self-confidence, determination, persistence. But someone who has been bullied may carry with them all through his or her life the feelings of not being good enough, smart enough, pretty enough, or just plain not enough. Their successes when they achieve them are hard won.

What did your grandparents teach your parents, what did your parents teach you, or what are you teaching your children about bullying? Love allows no room for disrespect. You can read all the research, all the self-help books and articles in periodicals about “bullying” but do you need the experts to tell you the difference between right and wrong? Do you think about how your child – and you – would feel if you were on the receiving end of bullying?

When will bullying end? When will change begin? It starts with the wisdom of adults who set the examples for the children.

Family Recovery Center offers mental health services as well as addiction services. The goal is for the health and well-being of all. For more information about the education, prevention and treatment programs for substance abuse and related behavioral issues, contact the agency at 964 N. Market St., Lisbon; phone, 330-424-1468; or email, info@familyrecovery.org. Visit the website at familyrecovery.org. FRC is funded in part by United Way of Northern Columbiana County.