Bullying is a topic of interest to most, if not all tweens and teens now. From kindergarten to college, kids have encountered it. Bullying can range from teasing among the younger set to activity considered criminal as the children grow older. Consider the events covered by the news agencies over the last decade. Sometimes the bullied become the bullies, as in the Columbine killings in Colorado. Or the activity can take on the mode of a hate crime as in the Laramie, Wyoming torture and killing of Mathew Shepard. Robert Champion, a Florida A & M band member died as a result of hazing, once a tradition among college sororities and fraternities, which rarely resulted in mortality. These examples, combined with the recent displays of gun violence, have put students and school administrators on edge. The President is being urged “to do something;” LaPierre of the NRA is advocating arming teachers. Where will it stop?
I believe the place to begin is in the schools. Let’s stop bullying now. The bullies need psychological treatment. They have a personality defect, perhaps something in their family situation has caused them to think they are better than others or that they a have superior right, often without the ability, to lead. Erik Shein, noted author and animator, has produced a work of fiction, The Monsterjunkies; an American Family Odyssey, for tweens and teens that provides a look inside a family who struggles with inheritance, science and a community’s fear of the unknown. Bullying and how one tween defeats the bullies will provide entertainment while giving kids information about bullying. “Ed asked, ‘Do you believe their story, Ms. Conners? You heard my speech on bullying at the PTA meeting and you know how the bullying game is played. They are using the very tactics I described, including taunting, secret backstabbing and provoking victims when the moment’s right. It’s all part of the game and that is exactly what’s happening here.’”
Kids will recognize at least one character from The Monsterjunkies; an American Family Odyssey, whether it’s the main character, much maligned Cromwell, his sister the well-arranged Indigo or the bully-master himself, Rutherford J. Grimes III. Cromwell or Crow, as he prefers to be called, finds a way to deal with the bullying. He meets it head-on in a unique combination of smarts and one-upmanship. Indigo, too, must find a way to have friends over without sacrificing her family’s desire and need for privacy. Why the overly espoused need for privacy? It is the very estate itself and its unusual set of inhabitants that provides the ticket for Crow’s acceptance.
Some students may be able find solutions to their bullying problems at home, talking to family; perhaps, a family member has experienced bullying in his or her younger years. Or there may be some other suggestion that can provide material for a solution. School counselors are also a good avenue for help. Students who experience bullying at any level should contact school counselors and/or administrators immediately. It is their desire to end bullying as much as the students. They must be given a chance to help and that chance begins by being notified.