Sunday, December 25, 2011

Taking Bullying to a Whole New Level

We've grown use, and perhaps desensitized, to hearing about bullying in our schools.  We've even coined a new term for the victims of it who commit suicide because of it:  bullycide.  We know that the effects of it can be devastating both the victims as well as the families and friends of the victims.  But, we don't expect to hear about a bullycide coming from our military.

Danny Chen was a 19-year-old Army soldier, fresh into the military.  He had only been in Afghanistan since August.  Sadly, his enemy wasn't the Taliban; it was his own fellow soldiers.  On October 3rd, Danny pulled the trigger on his young life.  He was taunted because of his race.  He was physically abused, even by his superiors.

Currently, 8 people are facing charges in Danny's death.  I think that's a great thing.  We are all aware of the dangers of going off to war.  We fully realize that there's at least a 50-50 chance that we'll never see our loved one again.  War is hell.  But, we expect the threat to come from the enemy, not those who wave the same flag.

This only serves to prove that we have a very deep societal issue.  See, it's not just the kids we have to be concerned about.  You've seen it written here, as well as other places I'm sure, that the only way we're going to begin to make a change in our culture and end the senseless bullying is by re-educating our people.  And, as perfectly illustrated here, and as I've said many time over, that re-education HAS to start with the adults.  See, it's not enough to tell the kids that they shouldn't be mean to others.  That they should treat all people with respect and kindness.  That they should accept all people for who they are.

Young people are far from stupid.  They reject the notion of "do as I say, not as I do!"  If they're seeing teachers stuff students into duffel bags, if they're seeing politicians condemn people because of their sexuality, if they're seeing the men who serve and protect our country bully one of their own because of his race, they're not going to listen to the message of kindness and acceptance.  Plain and simple.  They're going to follow the lead being provide to them by the people they learn from:  the adults.

The Army says they're "...taking this matter very seriously".  We'll have to wait and see by their actions.  Punishing those who are directly responsible for Danny Chen's death is a great start.  But, it's only a start.  In order to begin to truly work towards ending this epidemic, there HAS to be a re-education of our society as a whole.  That's a daunting task, but it isn't impossible.  The important thing is that it's clearly the only way we're going to start to see a change.