Bullying and Suicide
Children are facing tremendous challenges in today´s society. Fitting to everyone else´s ideals of success is not simple. For a growing number of youngsters, these ideals are constantly fed by what is said on the main stream media. Extreme eating and drinking habits, promiscuous behavior, and disrespect to hard-working, determined, educated or even physically impaired people are the norm in our time. Once you step aside from these ideals, others make sure you start feeling uncomfortable by making fun of whatever is not accepted within these frivolous standards. These situations are promoted by a few but unfortunately supported by a large majority. As the bullying leaders gain confidence, these situations become more frequent and those receiving the mistreatment are the ones who pay the price. Verbally or even physically abused youngsters are normally under extreme levels of pressure and tension leading; thereby, to conditions such as depression or anxiety. Sometimes parents are supportive and take the right measures at the right time to prevent a further damage. Unfortunately, this help is not always there and youngsters very often end up suffering a lot, under the excruciating pain of isolation and emptiness. Most of these extreme cases normally end up in extreme situations such as suicide. Alarmingly enough, our society has witnessed an increasing number of this type of cases over the past few years. It is common these days to hear about young ladies leaving suicide notes after a bullying crowd pick on their obesity or “conservative” sexual behavior. The popularity of social networks among youngsters complicate things even further considering that to share a message of support for bullying takes just one mouse click.
The only avenue to relieve children from bullying, once and for all, is to attack it at its very core. Perhaps the most appealing solution is to assure diversity’s acceptance. That, unfortunately, is not an easy thing to do. Western cultures are not the most prominent examples of respect to other’s cultural differences or ideas. We may remember the numerous episodes of racism throughout all the history of the U.S. and Europe. We may also remember how African slaves were traded and taken apart from his land, customs and families. It will take generations to erase these negative doings. Fortunately is never too late to start raising newborns under a radically different society where difference is accepted. This can be accomplished by showing kids the attributes of having other cultures adding different experiences and viewpoints to their daily lives. But this altruistic views need to receive direct support from the legislators and the government itself. Coursework for elementary, high school, and college students would have to require different levels of abroad experiences, and particularly in non-English speaking countries. As students increase their awareness about the real world they live in, they would start to appreciate the beauty of the difference. At the K-6 level, parents and children could go together to other countries and visit schools, museums, and in a guided manner perceive some details of the daily life in that place by accompanying a selected family during one or two weeks. At the high school level, things could go a little further by requiring students to live with a family abroad for a few months to learn a foreign language, customs and attend school. Once the students are back home, a requisite must be to share their perceptions both at the school and at the interior of their very own communities. The more experiences are shared the more our youngsters´ awareness about ethnic and cultural diversity will grow. At the college level, an experience abroad of at least a year must be required for graduation. During the experience, students must be required not only to start learning a foreign language but to be proficient in it. Moreover, the coursework must include the approval of classes overseas. Additionally, students should be able to present a written report where they discuss about the benefits and opportunities behind speaking other languages and knowing other cultures. The experience must include an exchange student coming from the hosting country overseas. With this approach, schools will gain a tremendous enrichment because visiting students from all around the world will be much more common in time. Families will start to receive a very positive input from their children experiences both at the school and abroad. Bullying levels will go down significantly as more and more people realize that there is nothing wrong with being “different” because in the end that is the glory of humanity.