Letter to the editor: Las Vegas student, 13, calls on parents to help prevent bullying

Dear parents of a bully, parents of someone who is being bullied (really, this is to ALL parents):

I’m writing this directly to parents because I don’t think writing essays at school, or putting up posters, or attending assemblies about bullying is working. Even though they share a lot of great information, I see no difference, because they’re bullying five seconds after leaving it. I realized I had to try something else and fast, because even though I’ve figured out some strategies to avoid a lot of it, it is happening all around me, and it’s even more crazy now because it involves more than just being mean. It involves sex, being gay, bisexual, cutting, fighting, and the list goes on.

This is the time we’re learning about so many new things and acceptance and tolerance for anyone who is different, but instead these topics which are already a lot to try to understand are magnified since they are thrown at us either incorrectly or in an inappropriate way. That causes many a lot of pain and confusion because parents aren’t taking the time to teach or help their child figure out correct ways to interact and deal with these subjects. So many use terms and pass along information that isn’t even true, and many get swept into believing it and start behaving badly themselves. This confusion adds to the bullying, and no matter how great or caring the school deans, counselors and teachers are, they are limited in what they can do. When anyone has an issue or incident, we are told to go to the office and write a report, which wouldn’t be bad if it actually did something besides make you lose class time you really need because our schoolwork is very hard and every minute counts. Plus, no one wants to help back you up because then they’re a snitch and will get bullied more.

Then we have some teachers and other staff that don’t even react when witnessing it firsthand. Or when you try to talk to them about a situation they ignore you and get mad at you. Some actually give you the silent treatment and you are left feeling you don’t matter even though you are in the right and just trying to get help. Are they burned out or just don’t care? Whatever their reasons are they give the bullies the OK to do more and make it seem normal and it shouldn’t be!! This is why it’s so important for parents to be involved every day. I know a lot of parents are divorced and of course parents have to work, but do you leave them alone and let them do or watch whatever they want? Do you check what’s on their computers and phones? Kids show porn at school and share sex pictures from their phones and tablets, and some are of themselves. They proudly say they don’t have to worry because either their parent doesn’t care or they have a special lock code.

Crazy, right? No that’s reality, people, and parents, your lack of caring makes ALL that “ick” drip all over kids who want nothing to do with it because we’re 13! I refuse to believe that parents of bullies have no idea they are one. With the behavior I see and hear that any parent no matter how busy doesn’t see any warning signs. And the kids who are being bullied must be showing signs, too. Yes, not every day is going to be great and that is normal, but if you see your child is acting different or seems sad you need to figure out why not just wait for it to get better. My mom knows the minute she sees me if something is up and doesn’t stop until we talk and figure out a solution, so I know it can be done if you just work at it and show you care.

There are kids at school whose parents actually encourage them to pick on kids and fight and even tell them something is wrong with them if they don’t have a girlfriend or boyfriend and make fun of them. Doesn’t that sound crazy since we’re only in middle school? And how can a parent not care when they see their kid’s wrists or other body parts all cut up on purpose? It makes me feel bad when they show it off to us and they’re not even friends of mine. So if the parent who is supposed to love and protect them doesn’t show they care, what kind of kid do you think they’re going to be? And how do you think it makes us feel when we can’t help them because we can’t understand why they’re cutting? Can’t you at least get them to a doctor or someone who can help them? And if your kid is always fighting can’t you get them some anger management? School is hard enough. We don’t need any more nonsense added to it, and that’s what happens every time you look the other way.

Have you been called by the school about an incident and either not gone or stuck up for your kid even though they were in the wrong? Do you blame the school or other kid before you have all the information? Do you say it’s just normal teenage stuff? With everything I’ve written about, don’t you think a lot of this connects to all the suicides, drug and alcohol use along with the increase of gun violence since the “shooters” keep getting younger and younger? These are all things kids shouldn’t have to deal with, but we have no choice when you don’t do your job as a parent. I’m 13 and I see the urgency, so how can’t you? I’m telling you loud and clear that we need your guidance, your life experience and most important your time and love so we can make the best decisions to deal with ALL these things when you’re not around. You need to realize how many hours we’re out of your sight during school and other activities. That’s a lot of time and a lot of negative influences swirling around us nonstop. I’m able to get through it because of my parents and I know your kids need you, too. Some say they feel pushed to the side and some say they feel responsible for the divorce and don’t know what to do. Kids don’t ask to be born and are NOT grownups just because we are now teenagers. If anything, this is the most important time in our lives from all the changes happening to us and around us making us need our parents even more.

Nobody is perfect and my family isn’t better than yours. I’m just trying to tell my story, share what works for us and tell you what is really going on at school.

Even though I still experience some bullying at times, I really enjoy my life and am happy every day, but there are so many kids I see that aren’t doing so well and need this help.

Everyone has to do their part or nothing will change. Please don’t wait. Start the conversation today and keep having it every day. Remember to put your kids first.

Sincerely,

A teenager who cares, supports change and won’t stop until it happens.

To share a story or make a comment, write to Stop Bullying, 11700 W. Charleston Blvd., No. 170-277, Las Vegas, NV 89135

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