The Bullying Epidemic: How to Put an End to It and Provide a Solid Foundation for our Kids
Last week I had the privilege of speaking on the first panel event for Mallory's Army, "Not My Child Syndrome." For those of you who are not aware, Mallory was a beautiful and kind 12-year-old girl who took her own life on June 14, 2017 as a result of constant bullying in school and social media.
Ironically, my cover story on Tara Reid was published the same week forMillennium Magazine where Reid shared her own stories on cyber bullying for her thin frame. Her new movie "Worthless"centered on the bullying epidemic was just released as well.
Bullying is an awful ordeal for anyone to have to go through, and I can personally attest to that as I have been the victim of it as a child as well as an adult. Isolation, teasing, rumors, taunting...all of these are forms of bullying.
So while clearly we are all aware of bullying and how it has taken a new life with social media, what exactly are we doing to put a stop to it?
We need to teach our children emotional skill sets to be able to overcome the negativity of others. It is important to build a strong community of people who are emotionally intelligent and model the behaviors we seek in others. This does not mean that emotionally intelligent people are perfect human beings, but rather recognize that "hurt people hurt people" and that most often, when one attacks you verbally, it is based on the perpetrators reflection of their own self.
As I listened to Mallory's mother Diane speak about her personal experience with bullying in regards to Mallory, it made me think of how many people are in pain in the world and what we can do to help them. Without question, I believe that through the study and practice of Emotional Intelligence, we can help children become self aware of their emotions and what triggers them. In addition, they can be taught to be aware of other people's feelings and learn to look at other perspectives. This does not mean that we all have to agree, but rather this practice helps with understanding why someone may act "not so nice" or have a different opinion.
What I loved most about Mallory's Army was that there were four of us on the panel each with our own "ingredient" to solve the problem of bullying. Mallory's Army is not dedicated to suicide prevention, but rather putting an end to bullying. In addition to Diane, there was Michael Roberston, prosecutor of Somerset County who spoke about the HIB laws in New Jersey and his part to enact Mallory's Law, Todd Schobel, the founder of STOPitapp, a tool to report bullying anonymously, and I spoke about the need to implement an Emotional Intelligence class in the curriculum of every school beginning in preschool!
Emotional Intelligence will not only help stop bullying, but it also is the foundation to success in any aspect of life! That means, it can help academically as well! My son, who is earning is Master's Degree in Engineering at Cornell University had to take a required course on Emotional Intelligence. If it is good enough for Cornell, shouldn't we all take notice and start our kids young when they can truly have it ingrained into their lives?
For all the coaches out there teaching our youth, they should be trained in Emotional Intelligence as well. After Chip Kelly was fired from the Philadelphia Eagles, owner Jeff Lurie was quoted saying that he wanted his next coach to have "emotional intelligence." Doug Pederson, the new head coach displays emotional intelligence and the Eagles are having a spectacular football season! Way too often I have seen coaches belittle their players on the field for not making a play, dropping a ball, etc. And I am talking about elementary age kids!
There is not one simple solution that can eradicate bullying, but starting with a strong foundation is key. Thus, we can build upon that foundation and live life more harmoniously.
This Thanksgiving, stop and live in the moment. Savor every morsel of food, treasure each moment with your family, take notice of the crisp autumn air and make a commitment to yourself to live in loving awareness.