THE BEST ANTIDOTE TO BULLYING
School teachers, administrators, and parents should encourage the most popular students to take on this important duty of charity and civic virtue. By so doing, they will prove themselves much more than possessed of a winning personality, athletic prowess, or academic acumen, they will prove themselves noble people, righteous leaders, deserving of everyone’s respect and admiration. They will also save their fellow students so victimized from the permanent psychological scars and adverse effects that oftentimes attend ostracizing, ridicule, and humiliation in these tender, impressionable years. Consider three noble examples for students to follow.
In the 1940’s during World War II, my father attended Brockton High School before entering the military. He was a very popular high school student, an excellent athlete, extremely handsome and very kind to everyone except those who meant to do harm to others. He was perennially the friend and defender of the underdog. The action he took then to counteract a bullying incident has been replicated recently in different venues to the same overwhelmingly positive effect.
After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, many in the United States began to view those of Japanese descent as enemies, including those who had great love for our country and were willing to die defending it against Imperial Japan. One Japanese family in Brockton had a daughter who attended Brockton High School. She was ostracized by the other girls and became the victim of racial bigotry. As a popular school dance approached, many young ladies at the school wanted to know who my father would ask to the dance, he being a very popular young man. He surprised them all when the night of the dance he arrived not with the most popular girl on his arm but with the Japanese girl who had been shunned. My father treated that girl majestically and his classmates took notice. The girls that had been critical of the Japanese girl suddenly found themselves overwhelmed with curiosity as to why Ernie Emord (my father) would take her to the dance. He continued to treat the girl with the utmost respect thereafter to the notice of fellow students. Soon, the very same girls who had ostracized the young Japanese girl began to befriend her and the racial bigotry that had caused her to be ostracized in school no longer served as an obstacle.
This month, in Kenosha, Wisconsin, a few of the most popular students at Lincoln Middle School proved themselves exceptional human beings in a like manner, each one worthy of our honor and praise. One of the Middle School’s cheerleaders, Desiree Andrews, has Down’s syndrome. She has suffered ridicule from various low lifes at the school. At a recent middle school basketball game, when Desiree again became the subject of ridicule, three basketball players for the school walked off the court in protest. Those three boys, Chase Vazquez, Scooter Terrien, and Miles Rodriguez, explained that they would not play for an audience disrespectful of Desiree, and they rallied around the girl, warmly embracing her. In an instant, those three boys proved themselves among our most honored citizens. They proved themselves far more than successful high school athletes. They richly deserve our praise, just as those who ridiculed Desiree richly deserve our scorn.
Fortunately, the event in Kenosha, Wisconsin is not an isolated incident. Repeatedly, across the country, people have risen to the occasion to defend the victimized and condemn the abusers. Three years ago in Queens Creek, Arizona, Chy Johnson, who suffers from a brain disorder, was the victim of bullying by girls at her high school. The star quarterback for the high school football team who also had a 4.0 average, Carson Jones, received a phone call from Johnson’s mother. She wanted Jones to identify for her the names of those responsible for bullying her daughter. Jones thought about the request and then decided to do something extraordinary. He decided to make Chy his best friend. In the school cafeteria, he ate lunch with her.
He urged several other school football players to join him in befriending Chy and accompanying her to classes throughout the day. She soon became so encircled with supportive friends and so well defended, that the bullying issue vanished. “They’re not mean to me,” she said to the Deseret News, “because all my boys love me so much.” She referred to the football players coming to her rescue as “my boys.” Without question, Carson Jones and his fellow football players rose to the occasion, proving themselves in an instant to be exceptional citizens, deserving of honor and our praise. In this one instance, they did more than any other act taken in their high school years, that has eternal significance, that proves them model citizens in whom we may place great trust and confidence.
Whole communities can also come to the aid of the person bullied. That’s what happened in West Branch, Michigan. Whitney Kropp who attended Ogemaw Heights High School in West Branch, became the subject of a cruel prank. She had been victimized and bullied her entire time at the school, but the victimization turned particularly cruel when several students engaged in what they thought would be a good prank, by nominating her to the Homecoming court. They informed her that she had been nominated, and she believed it to be true, only to discover that in fact the alleged “nomination” was a prank. When she was informed that the nomination was phony, she felt betrayed and she was driven to tears. Kropp’s mother and friends told her that the best revenge would be for her to go to the homecoming celebration, not skip it as she had planned. Word spread of the prank throughout West Branch. Responsible citizens and business leaders one by one took action. Individuals variously paid for her homecoming dress, for a driver to the homecoming dance, and for a hairdo, nails, and makeup at a salon. She became embraced by the entire community and soon over 50,000 likes appeared on a “Support Whitney Kropp” facebook page. In short, the bullying was completely exposed, rebuffed, and undone by a community that acted with honor, deserving of our praise.
At every school in the nation, certain miscreants humiliate and abuse other kids. They are ignoble and base by any reasonable measure. Those instances of abuse oftentimes leave lasting scars on the victims. Increasingly we hear of acts of bullying in the schools and of awkward school administration interventions, sometimes even punishing the victim along with the abuser.
The solution to the problem of bullying is ordinarily far less complicated, and, when implemented, also far more profound in its impact on the entire community. Each student who becomes a leader in a school, a popular figure because of athletic prowess, appearance, sociability, or intelligence should take it upon him or herself to do an act of service that will elevate that student to a stature far greater than a win in a sporting event, a high score in a school competition, or an election to King or Queen for Homecoming. School administrators, teachers, and parents should encourage students who are leaders to take on this charitable and civic responsibility. Each student leader should go out of his or her way to befriend those humiliated, ridiculed, ostracized, and victimized, build a bulwark of defense around those so injured, and stand as an example of righteousness in defense of those wrongly maligned for all the world to see. Those simple, yet profound acts of charity and good will are among the greatest in life and will long be remembered as defining moments of character for all who take on this critical responsibility.
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© 2015 Jonathan W. Emord - All Rights Reserved
Jonathan W. Emord is an attorney who practices constitutional and administrative law before the federal courts and agencies. Ron Paul calls Jonathan “a hero of the health freedom revolution” and says “all freedom-loving Americans are in [his] debt . . . for his courtroom [victories] on behalf of health freedom.” He has defeated the FDA in federal court a remarkable eight times, seven on First Amendment grounds, and is the author of the Amazon bestsellers The Rise of Tyranny, Global Censorship of Health Information, and Restore the Republic. He is the American Justice columnist for U.S.A. Today Magazine and joins Robert Scott Bell weekly for “Jonathan Emord’s Sacred Fire of Liberty,” an hour long radio program on government threats to individual liberty. For more info visit Emord.com, join the Emord FDA/FTC Law Group on Linkedin, and follow Jonathan on twitter (@jonathanwemord).
like to think of ourselves as a humane people, a just people, a people
who tolerate dissent out of recognition that dissent is a right we must
all enjoy lest the day arrive when adherence to a government decree
may strip all of us of the basic right to be left alone and to avoid
deprivations of life, liberty, and property.