October 25, 2013

Instant Grit

The Blog of the Week is... Jelly Beans & Acne Cream by Evans Craddock. The news that a 12-year-old Florida student committed suicide following aggressive bullying by two classmates was tough to stomach, she said. Then she brought us back to her own schooldays, and that requisite cruel classmate who never saw a zit he didn't like... to exploit, to mock, to skywrite across the recess yard. 


"...maybe if that boy in my class had looked past my pimpled cheeks, he would’ve learned that I had a serious love of Harry Potter novels. And then I would’ve given him some of my delicious Harry Potter-themed jelly bellies that I had stashed in my pocket. Right beside my prescription acne cream."


Read the whole blog here.


And while we're on the subject...



... Let's face it. Here we are, talking about bullying without a single celebrity to try to solve it through a PSA, and two things come to mind. Two little nuggets that, to me, just might be the answers we're looking for:


1. Evans Craddock. Get that girl—and all those kind-hearted, well-grounded, level-headed adults like her—in a classroom or youth program STAT. Read more of her wise writings and see what I mean. Because steering a directionless, downtrodden teen back to what really matters isn't easy: But surround them with people who have a knack for sharing the been there/done that message, and you just might open up the big picture before the whole screen goes dark. 


2. If prostitution is the oldest profession, bullying might be the oldest pastime. It's a go-to survival method for kids, period.


And it's not going to get better anytime soon—well, not the way we're doing it. Think about what's happening in the real world as we roll out the ad dollars to fix this: Kids are increasingly viewing each other by the words they text, the posts they publish. They don't really have to look at each other as much, witness the consequences, assess the situation in real time—they're not getting the kind of information you absorb from looking someone in the eye. That's how you find out how to recognize when someone's happy or hurt or hilarious or... human. And it's how you learn how those things make you feel. See, technology has made for an easier sucker punch. So get off your phones, get your kids off their phones. Replace your i-addiction with common sense and moderation. Stop living on your phones, stop chatting away to Eveline while your kid lumbers into the minivan after school, the world on his shoulders. Close the laptops, power down the iPads. That's not where humanity lives. Humanity lives in voices, faces, and feelings. Don't blame your kids for being assholes if you never taught them how to talk to people, empathize with people, or disagree with people.  


Seriously, forget the celebrities. It doesn't hurt that they try, but these campaigns are campaigns. Marketing plans. And when was the last time a marketing plan changed a kid's life, changed their direction? There is a way to build kids who are neither bullies or bullied. Parents, stop hanging your children out to dry. Teach them what they're worth from a young age. Teach them what's okay, what's not. Teach them how to cope in heartbreaking situations. Be the kind of parent who's easy to find, ready to talk. Neither Hollywood nor Madison Avenue can right this—they can't help your kid. But hey, good news: you can. So get back in the game.


This post was written by Ellen McGauley, ellen@charlestonmag.com