Last year I purchased a bracelet. Nothing fancy; just a simple awareness style, silicone band that our local pizza place was selling in an effort to help raise money for a young girl's burial expenses. I didn't know the story behind her death and I didn't ask, just dropped the $2.00 in the jar, took my bracelet, and went home to eat pizza.
Since that day, the small reminder of a girl I never knew has sat on the shelf above my desk, where it periodically catches my eye. The yellow words on the simple black band, "RIP Mary Smith," and, "Bullying Ends Now!"never fail to make me wonder about Mary's story. (Sadly, repeated searches failed to even turn up an online obituary.)
A few days ago I saw a short ad for an anti-bullying campaign that brought Mary's bracelet back to mind. I don't remember the name of this particular organization, but its message was that it's everyone's job to stop bullying.
As I glanced up from my book to focus on the commercial, I turned to Hubby and, in my usual manner, proceeded to go off on a mini-tangent about the topic, ending with one simple question, "WHY are there so many 'Stop Bullying' campaigns and not one, single 'Do Your Damn Job as a Parent!' campaign?"
I'm not gonna lie here, I was bullied. It sucked. A lot. And every time I think about it, one specific incident comes to mind. It involved some not-so-sweet right jabs to my nose and mouth, meted out by the local Junior High bully.
When the bully, myself, and our parents were called to the Vice Principal's office to give both sides of the story and seek some form of resolution, my mother was the only parent present. Where was one of the adults responsible for teaching the bully how to be a "good citizen"? Absent, that's where.
I know there are a million and one statistics out there about how much it costs to raise a child and the fact that most parents have to work, just to keep a family financially afloat. Or the statistics about single parent households, affordable childcare, latch-key kids and so on.
I'm sorry, those arguments are invalid.
If you make the choice to bring a child into your family, regardless of how many parents are present or the gender of those parents, you take on the responsibility for teaching that child rights and wrongs, respect for others, setting boundaries and enforcing those rules. You make a commitment to protect your child from the things in life that could harm him or her, even when those "things" happen to be that child and/or its behavior. Simply put, you make an unspoken pledge to parent that child.
In a society where the old adage, "It takes a village" is as dead as the concept of having only four TV channels or a life without Internet access, the job of being a parent is even more important. We have basically become our children's first and last line in the sand.
Yes, parenting is a hard job. But no one ever said it'd be easy. Personally? I'll take a child screaming, "I hate you!" in my face for grounding them over the weight of failing to teach them right from wrong and watching the outcome of a life without boundaries.
So in a way, 24 years ago I did take a pledge to stop bullying. I did it by promising to do my damn job as a parent.