Born to be a star

Recently there have been steps to encourage respect and fight bullying.

Hemang Sharma

 

The professional wrestling giant, World Wrestling Entertainment, has a message for kids: “Don’t be a bully, be a STAR.” The inspirational words are meant to address bullying, a national crisis.

“The Bullying Effect,” a CNN documentary that aired earlier this month, chronicles the terrible experiences of bullied kids across America. It showed sad and often sickening stories of kids who were bullied and driven to the edge, almost to the point of suicide.

Bullying is a national crisis. Not only do children who are bullied suffer in the present, but their lives can also be affected in a way that has long-term implications. Even worse, children and teens often develop suicidal tendencies as a way to cope and sometimes act on those impulses.

Center of Disease Control and Prevention research shows about 15 percent of high school kids contemplate suicide and that victims of bullying are more likely to commit suicide. A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Psychiatry shows that kids who are bullied often grow up to have severe mental health issues, such as anxiety, suicidal thoughts and severe clinical depression.  

We need to save our children so that they can be the contributing members of tomorrow’s society.

Campaigns like the “Be a STAR” initiative and the CNN special help put a smile on the faces of kids, many of whom may have been bullied and might be considering ending their lives.

When influential public figures like Anderson Cooper and John Cena reach out to kids about how they succeeded and encourage respect, children listen.

Minnesota’s bullying law is one of the shortest in the country at only 37 words. State Sen. Scott Dibble, DFL-Minneapolis, and Rep. Jim Davnie,  DFL-Minneapolis, have authored a new bill to expand our current bullying law. The proposed law requires the state Department of Education to track bullying data along with the academic data it already collects. The bill would also require individual districts to have anti-bullying policies that protect students based on disability and sexual orientation, which is not included in our current law.

I’m glad there are efforts like this in America that help encourage kids to respect each other’s differences — race, appearance, sexual orientation, socio-economic status and almost everything that may cause them to be picked on in school hallways, playgrounds and on the Internet.

Talk to anyone, and they’ll likely say they were bullied as children, maybe even today. There are bullies all around us: the guy who tries to get in your face at the bar, the thief who snatches your phone or wallet or the driver cursing at you during the morning commute. These people exist, and they’re an important part of bullying and criminal culture that needs to be addressed on a societal level.

I was bullied as a kid in school and in my neighborhood. I got beaten up and had my lunch taken. I was called names and made fun of. There were times when I cried, tried to hit back or simply gave up trying to reason with them. But I focused on the future and the reasons I had to continue
living.

My mother taught me to never give up in life. She said that the best way to get back at my bullies was to accomplish something so great in life that they can’t help but shut up. This is why the “Be a STAR” campaign speaks to me.

Bullying is labeled as a part of life, but it doesn’t have to be inevitable. Passing this new bullying legislation is one step to better the lives of young people in Minnesota and change state bullying culture.