Don't bully me

It’s a feeling that most people have experienced at one time or another and it can be guaranteed nobody enjoyed the moment. There are simply too many examples to list (but we will offer some): as a youngster in school, when the class bully tried to steal your lunch money or grab your homework; as a working professional, when an associate tried to intimidate you into pursuing a course of action that was not appropriate nor to your liking; or even as a parent, when others tried to direct you on how to raise your child.... None of these situations are comfortable ones, and there’s a reason why. They are based on people being manipulated, harassed and bullied into compliance. And no one should be treated that way.

But it’s a behavioral pattern that begins early in life. From the time they are young, children bully one another. And by-and-large, many get away with it. What a disservice to the child, to the family and to any person that child will come in contact with in the future. We need to imprint upon children that bullying others is not OK. Left unattended, bullying leads to the malicious treatment of others — be it other children, family members or even animals. As the bully grows, so will his or her hostility toward others and the belief that manipulation, harassment and general mistreatment is par for the course. In reality that is exactly opposite of what should be taught, which is what brings the spotlight onto the Pine Plains Central School District.

In Pine Plains, the administration is taking aim against the all-too-common school-age problem of bullying and harassment. Stissing Mountain High School Principal Tara Horst held an informational seminar on Oct. 27, to reach out to members of the community about how to stem bullying behavior before it becomes a dominant trait in school-age children. Ideally, those who attended will now have a better grasp of the issue when  teaching their children why it’s wrong to behave that way, and how hurtful it can be when treated that way by someone else.

The seminar also touched upon ways to encourage students to express their plight to adults, if in such a situation. All of the points made at the presentation were clear, thorough and helpful to those who attended. Just by offering the seminar to the community in the first place showed the district’s commitment to breaking that bullying behavior and providing support for those who have been mistreated as a result of bullying and harassment. The seminar also provided tools for teachers, student resource officers, school staff and community members to deal with what was described as a “learned trait.�

The Pine Plains Central School District should get a gold star for its efforts in bringing this all-too-often ignored issue to the forefront of the community’s mind. It’s also good to know that parents were invited to the lecture, for they really need to be aware of the fact that bullying exists in the schools and outside of them. They also need to talk to their children about how to address the issue in a safe and effective manner.

Unfortunately there will always be bullies and those who harass people, whether they are 5 years old or 75 years old. The important thing is for people not to give those bullies any power — but rather to work around them and dispel their vitriolic words. With programs like the one sponsored by the Pine Plains school district getting to the issue early, perhaps more people will become equipped with the tools needed for dealing with such thoughtless and acrimonious people. Then maybe dealing with bullies will become second nature to the young students trying to discover their own identities as they move through their childhood — unhampered, unharmed and unencumbered by abusive words and actions.

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