Parents don’t cause every problem in the world, but most rotten little apples don’t fall far from their family trees.
When it comes to bullying or a misbehaving child, often right behind them are parents who are uninvolved or entirely in denial.
In Winter Haven, Fla. last week two young girls were arrested for aggravated stalking. The two were part of a group of as many as 15 “mean girls” who bullied a 12-year old girl both in person and online until she finally killed herself by jumping off of a tower at an abandoned concrete plant.
The girls who were arrested had sent messages via social media and texts telling the victim to “drink bleach and die” and asking questions such as “You haven’t killed yourself yet? Go jump off a building.”
The arrests were made after a statement of anything but remorse was posted on one of the girl’s Facebook pages.
“Yes ik [I know] I bullied REBECCA nd she killed her self but IDGAF [I don't give a f---],” one sweet little snowflake posted.
I bet her parents were horrified. I’m sure the girls are in for major punishment.
Either that or their parents will continue to shield them like an umbrella. If you guessed umbrella, you understand the problem.
“My daughter's a good girl and I'm 100 percent sure that whatever they're saying about my daughter is not true," one father said.
Of course she is. Daddy’s little girl wouldn’t torment and harass a girl to her death just because the other girl started a prepubescent relationship with a boy in whom she had a shared interest. There is no mountain of evidence that will convince him that there is a problem he should address.
If you are making a mental note that during your prayer time tonight that you will thank God Almighty that you don’t live in Florida, don’t bother. The problem is close to home no matter where you are.
All you have to do is spend about a minute on Twitter, Ask.fm or Facebook or find access to Vines or Snapchats kids produce to see more than enough disturbing comments and images to make you question whether these children are really our future.
There are some great kids out there and they better look out because there are some boys who have refined bullying into a fine art and some mean girls who think the fictional namesakes are amateurs.
One local post included the lovely sentiment that, "Those girls from (rival school district) are legitimately dirty sluts.”
Page 2 of 2 - That’s really nice.
The problem is real and it is expanding with every social media app that increases contact and anonymity. It is so bad that Congress has established an anti-bullying caucus.
One member of that caucus is Democrat Michael Honda from California.
“Everyone in America likely has a bullying story, whether as the victim, bully or as a witness,” Honda said.
But what can be done about this?
Not much when you get right down to it. The schools preach bullying prevention and have educational programs and talk a good game. They have all of the kids sign anti-bullying pledges where they promise to treat everyone with respect. But when a student or their parents approach an administrator with a perceived problem, what really gets done?
I’m sure if the suspected bully is from the wrong side of the tracks, with enough evidence they might get detention and develop more motivation to come after the victim who reported them.
But in most instances, the educators and administrators take no action and many times it is solely because they know that mommy and daddy were bullies in their day and they are going to raise a ruckus if you try to punish their “good girls” because charges against them are “100 percent not true.”
Parental denial leads to administrative neglect and all we are left with is the hope that these victims don’t succumb to the fear of escalation to the point where they harm themselves to escape the constant harassment.
This girl’s death and dozens of incidents in every state in the nation should be a call to action.
It is time to lead with courage and call out the bullies – whether they are still teenagers or just grew older and never grew up.
Kent Bush is the publisher of the Augusta Gazette, the El Dorado Times, and the Andover American newspapers. He can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org