Political disagreements. A pandemic. Hyper-partisan opinions. In the digital age, bullying is everywhere. Social media, comments sections, and anywhere someone can write something from the comfort of their keyboard has the potential to become a toxic thread of name-calling, bullying, and general uncivilized behavior. This new norm has wreaked havoc on the collective mental health of our society.
We’re better than this. And as parents and a community, it’s our duty to teach our kids better than this. They hear everything we say and read much of what we type, whether we think they’re paying attention or not. Bullying is not a situation where we can take a “do as I say, not as I do,” approach. Regardless of how much time our kids spend in school or around their friends, important values such as kindness, a sense of community, and just being a good person are most impactful when taught at home. They learn from us, and they mimic us – “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree,” after all.
The first step to ending bullying starts at home. As adults, we need to start being kinder to each other. We need to know when to agree to disagree, and not call each other awful names when our opinions don’t align. We need to lead by example to show kids that although someone might be significantly different from us, whether physically, mentally, or have different personal values, we can all be kind and appreciate each other for our uniqueness. It is unrealistic to expect us to agree all the time, but we should strive toward civility and kindness for one another. To help our kids be better, we need to be better.
Our goal as parents is to provide you with opportunities and a life that we never had.
Deer Valley Unified School District has a zero-tolerance policy for bullying – but we know that any type of policy is difficult to enforce unless those tasked with implementing it actually see the violation of the rules. I plan to continue to refine these policies, making sure that they’re being enforced and that the repercussions are appropriate for the situation. I will also advocate for prevention programs to teach kids how to appropriately respond to their feelings, express themselves in a civil manner, and help them understand how much words can hurt. Our efforts at enforcing the zero-tolerance bullying policy will be much more effective if we give our students the tools and resources to prevent bullying in the first place.
As a kid, my parents always told me, “Our goal as parents is to provide you with opportunities and a life that we never had.” I never fully understood what this meant until I had children of my own. I have since adopted this as a goal in my life – my wife and I work hard to provide them with that type of life. In addition to this, I want to leave behind a society where kids and people can be their true selves without fear of being bullied or name-calling. No child should be made to feel bad about themselves for who they are, what they wear, who they love, or what they believe in. Help me on this mission – let’s be better.