by Elizabeth Ann Rogers
Children suffer a loss due to prejudice and bullying. This seems to be a very common problem in our schools according to a licensed counselor dealing with children and family therapy. We know that self-esteem can be lowered to an alarming rate when we are young and trying to fit in. I went through a lot of bullying when I was growing up. Things seem to be much worse today. Working with the public for many years, I have noticed a change; one my mother predicted when I was young. I think of the I Love Lucy days and compare it to our family structures now. What happened? My mother was a stay at home mom, but that was so normal we didn’t use that term. Now it is downright rare. That is what my mother was trying to say before I was old enough to understand. She spoke of the mothers going to work and it did not seem like a good idea according to her. I have seen the shift through the years and I think many of you would agree with me that bullying and prejudice are not something children are born with. They are learning it somewhere. We used to blame the school system and the outside world influencing our children. Today, they seem to be leaving the house with it. The family unit has changed from what I have seen and not for the better. Divorce is so common. Just look at the ratio of children that have that in common today. It wasn’t that long ago that the child of divorced parents would have been rare and probably the recipient of many unkind taunts from fellow classmates. I see moms not only working, not only divorcing, but also moving in their new boyfriends with their children at home. What are children learning from this?
I recently saw a movie which dealt with a child being bullied every day at school. In the story, he is told to follow the bully home and watch him. This person was very wise indeed. For as the boy watched his tough and frightening enemy, he saw the terrible living conditions, his drunken father slapping him around and oh how different it was than he had expected. He felt sympathy for his tormentor and came to understand where his behavior had been learned. What are children seeing in their own homes? It’s not the television anymore. We can’t pretend forever can we? We used to think our parents were so old fashioned, and that the newer generation of parents seemed so cool in comparison. Well, it looks like cool means drinking, taking drugs and moving around from partner to partner. Not Cool!
I asked my grandchild who is ten years old what ideas she had about loss through prejudice. She told me that you can lose your friends when they start going along with those who are prejudiced against you
can lose your friends when they start going along with those who are prejudiced against you. I had never thought of that before. What a terribly sad way to discover who your real friends are!
I see a dangerous chain emerging in our society. Who takes their children to Church anymore, showing them hope when life deals them the inevitable hurtles they will face in life? In my opinion, we are putting them in the line of fire without any ammunition. What will guide them to find love, trust, compassion? They will need all these things to have a happy and productive life. Yet I feel we are setting them up for failure instead of success.
I honestly believe there is hope, however. It can be found in that one true friend, the one who proves to them that you can trust. There is the wise teacher who listens instead of lecturing, offering them a glimpse of pride and self-esteem. I don’t know about you, but I remember the people that helped and inspired me when I was dealing with my own trials and tribulations in my youth. These adults gave me a sense of hope, for I started believing in myself. It was not just by their words, but by their example. I looked up to them so I studied how they treated people. Someone listening may sound trivial but it is priceless to a child unaccustomed to being heard. I believe our children are looking for the ones that will make a difference. Home-schooling seems to be a popular alternative today, which gives me hope. It tells me that there are many parents devoted to the happiness and fruitfulness of their children’s time on this earth. They will be able to choose the right path when that unavoidable fork in the road of life appears. For all the negatives I do see positives. As long as we do not give up on our children, they will have a chance. I can see all around us those who care and this is where the hope will reveal itself to our children in their time of need.
About the Author: Many of you will recognize Elizabeth Ann Rogers as the former Kerrville (TX) post office window clerk, Elisha. She retired in 2003. Following the sudden death of her husband, Bill—a Kerrville letter carrier—in 1995, Elisa began keeping a journal. Over the years, her writings eventually led her to in-depth writing about loss and grief. Her first book entitled The Scale of Peace is the story of a young boy and a young dragon learning to deal with the prejudices of their elders. Elizabeth Ann Rogers (Elisa) will be signing her book at the upcoming Kerr County (TX) Market Days on 9/24, 10/22, 11/25, 26, and 12/17. She is currently working on a sequel.