Bullying can happen when you travel. Shocking, I know but it’s true.
The epidemic of bullying will be the focus of a special issue of “48 Hours” set to air at 8 pm EST September 16. I was part of a panel, hosted by CBS News, to discuss the issue and meet the mom and social worker who worked hard for change.
The mom on the panel is just like all of us – she wants the best for her son, expects him to be safe at school and she aches when he hurts. She compared dropping off her kid at school to dropping him off in a war zone. He has been tormented by name calling and singled out as “unlikeable.” He wants to know why he likes sewing instead of baseball. He just wants a friend. A social worker at his school became not only a friend to him also the catalyst for serious change at her school for dealing with bullying.
Her school implemented ABC (Anti-Bullying Campaign) boxes into which kids could drop an anonymous note about being bullied. The key, anti-bullying experts say, is early intervention with kids. Those kids will, in turn, educate their parents.
It worked as a way to combat drunk driving and promote seat belt use. Wearing a seatbelt in a car is a given and it’s cool to be a designated driver now. This campaign aims to make it cool to stick up for someone and uncool to bully.
Bullying During Travel
Bullying comes in many forms. It can be name-calling but may also be about excluding others. Kids need to know what bullying is in order to prevent it. They also need to be rewarded when they intervene on a victim’s behalf.
The last place I expected my kids to experience bullying was on vacation. We took a trip on The Oasis, a Royal Caribbean cruise ship. My 13 year-old daughter had been singled out by another girl who ruled the teen club. She was made fun of and excluded from activities the other girls did.
My son, who would normally be his sister’s tormentor, was even ready to intervene. My husband and I offered to speak to the teen club supervisor but my daughter insisted that she be allowed to handle it on her own. She confronted the girl about her bullying and the girl denied it, actually hugging her at one point. This was my daughter’s first experience of not being liked and she came out of that situation more empathic toward other bullying victims.
Be on the lookout – bullying is like a rash – starts out in one small spot and then grows until an antidote is applied.
Watch Bullying on 48Hours. Join the tweet-up at 7:30p EST and follow #bullying on Twitter. Go to 48hours on CBS News for bullying laws in your state and for more information.