Though no cases have been reported locally, a bullied Michigan teen, Whitney Kropp, recently was nominated by her peers to be a member of the homecoming court. The kicker, of course, is that it wasn’t a sincere nomination — rather, her fellow students were trying to find a way to embarrass and humiliate the teen. While the girl reportedly considered suicide because of the cruel treatment, she rose above it and got the last laugh on her classmates when people from around the country came out to support her.
Meanwhile, a Wisconsin television news anchor, Jennifer Livingston, recently fought back when a viewer attacked her via email for being overweight and a bad example of good health to the community. She went on TV and read the letter aloud and received support from across the globe. She said the email writer didn’t know her and, instead of criticizing the way she did her job, something on which she would expect feedback, she was singularly identified for one characteristic the individual didn’t like and held in contempt for it. Livingston, who said she believes herself to be a good community role model and parent to three daughters, took particular offense at being assessed for one trait by someone who didn’t know her or her personal situation.
Numerous people across the country have endured bullying — some even committing suicide — because of their sexual orientation, race, religion or other factors. Being an individual — particularly a quirky individual — can get someone ridiculed and ostracized in their youth but then raised up as an idol as a celebrity actor, singer or other performance-oriented professional. Adults need to help kids recognize people who are bullies and those who are being bullied. They should be taught to reach out to try and help them change bullying behavior. Whether that means standing up for the person being bullied or having the courage to speak up for ourselves, bullying is a brutal practice that can have lifetime repercussions for people. Breaking the bullying cycle is much better if it never starts.
We’re all better without bullying. Sadly, a lot of people still need to learn that lesson. Hopefully our local kids will be the champions that lead the way on stopping bullying.
— Jeanny Sharp, editor and publisher