Bullying, we have all heard about it, seen it plastered all over the news, all over social media, some have been victim of it, some have had their kid(s) victim(s) of it. With the advancement of technology this has become a rampant problem. It’s no longer just taunting on the school playground or whispers behind someone’s back or even a note passed around the class. Now it’s cell phones, tablets, laptops, desktop computers and social media that have enabled this to become more of an epidemic than just a “passing fad”.
We as parents that have kiddo(s) with special needs know all to well the harsh realities that our kiddo(s) face growing up in not only an age where technology makes it so easy to bully but also in an age where it also makes it the “norm”. It is difficult enough having to deal with things like Autism (I know this for a fact) I grew up not having a lot of friends I was the awkward one that stood out for all the wrong reasons. I was good at sports even ones I hated, I was writing my first book when I was in Grade 7 and although I didn’t have the money to publish it I did hand out the few copies I did get to a few people that still have it. I was just different. I got teased, I had my hair lit on fire on the bus once, I had my fingers smashed and locked in my locker, I had my nose broken, I had stuff stolen from me, I had ice balls not snow thrown at me…but those healed I mean whatever in the end. BUT the things that left the biggest scars were the words of the other kids and how no one was in my corner not even teachers not once I got to High School. Those words stung then and they do now, except now I know I had Autism then and ADHD – which would have made a world of difference I could have at least advocated for myself and spoke up but not knowing was hard.
So that leads me to present day, and how even within the special needs/parents community other adults feel the need to pick apart other adults and throw them to the masses for the sheer “sport” of it. They preach about how they are teaching their kids to not bully and to respect other kids with disabilities but you see their words and wonder if that is true. They will rip into you like a lion into it’s prey if you dare say anything they don’t like because they can, then they will throw you to the masses on their FB page or other social media site because to them it’s about the attention they get from it. You then realize where these kids get it from, they learn from what they see/hear from parents or parents friends or just by being on social media.
One of two incidents with myself personally is when I had found this page that wanted to help send goodies to Canadian kids in a care package of sorts. I had offered my support and all was ok until one day when they posted something that just struck a nerve. This person is young (19/20) no kids of her own and her own mental health issues, but she insisted that she knew all about Autism and what the funding was being spent on instead of services (research) is what she came out with and she just kept going off and posting links to outdated info and how someone at her school knows all about Autism and where the money is spent (find that one hard to believe since even the Government doesn’t know that much). So suddenly I was on the end of an attack, she made threats to me, she posted nasty messages on her page and had the nerve to say she was calling CPS because I was “unstable” and my kids needed a better Mom. She had me banned for 48hrs off of FB because I posted (with no names mentioned) her responses and messages to me and just kept at it. Even had the nerve to message me 4 months later and poke the bear again so to speak.
Second incident was someone posting how they had gotten a trip to Disney half paid for and this is at the beginning of all Disney’s oh so lame attempts to “accommodate” special needs people better. I had no idea what I said that was so bad – I remember sharing a link to a page that was advocating hard to get Disney to not take the route they were, and mentioning how it would be interesting to see how it went with the new system…but suddenly I was on the end of a ban from the page and her hateful words. Her son has a few medical issues but I had been supporting her page and son and offering up anything I could to help for months. Just like that people can turn.
So that leads me to wonder – what are these people thinking? To me it seems they want the drama and attention (despite their delusions that I was causing this not them). As adults we should be behaving better than that, it’s showing our children and friends that hey it’s ok to do it because I am me but no one better do that to me or my kid. But what can we do about it? How can we do anything when these people seem to keep at it? The first time I responded and fired back, the second time I just ignored them and made one statement without naming names and walked away, which only made them mad and they kept at it. I still didn’t bite.
It is so much to take in and deal with when they seem to have such a big audience and like minded people always seem to end up together. How do you deal with it? How can you overcome it? If you think about it this kind of thing can go on forever, ruining you, your family will turn on you, friends. People need to help start a movement is what it is going to take, to make these people be responsible, to get laws put in place out here – cyber bullying is still bullying. I am proud to say that Canada is implementing a Cyber Bullying law after far to many young kids have committed suicide over cyber bullying in the last year. Two really high profile cases got our Governments attention and they realized that something had to change and fast. This law is going to help protect ANYONE that is a victim of Cyber Bullying and these bullies can and will be punished by the law. But we as adults also need to pay more attention to what goes on – whom our kids are around and what they are doing online. We also need to raise more awareness for ALL victims of Cyber Bullying – adults are not exempt – but are often over looked because we “should be able to handle it” but in reality we need people to support us to, we need people in our corner to.
I think there needs to be more accountability out here on the internet, there needs to be laws in place online just as there would be offline. Bullying is bullying – it knows no age limit and no boundaries. It needs to be known that it wont be tolerated no matter what the age of the person bullying or the person they are targeting. We must stand up and speak out about this and start a movement in the right direction. “never underestimate what a small group of people can accomplish” indeed a movement starts small but together we can make it big and make people think twice before they target people just to get attention or simply because they want to sit back and watch the masses go after someone for no real reason. People need to stop being sheep and buying into this and think before they act. This is the only way that this will stop.