Only compassion can end bullying

By RICHARD SCOTT/Guest Columnist

Taylor was sweet, sensitive, smart, mostly quiet, but to those who knew him best, he possessed a uniquely wonderful sense of humor. What he wasn’t was athletic. That didn’t matter — until fifth grade when the boys at his school began to choose sides and the “jocks” decided it was their duty to pick on kids like Taylor, as if they were trying to prepare the non-jocks for the cruel world ahead.

Taylor is my son. He’s 19 years old now, and he managed to survive those cruel years, due in large part to involvement in theater and band at Pelham High School and his penchant for sarcasm.

Many kids aren’t so lucky. More and more, schools are seeing kids who suffer severe scars from the harsh attacks of bullies, just because they’re not what the bullies think they should be.

Do you want the painful truth? The disturbing rise in bullying can be directly correlated to the slow, painful demise of compassion in our world.

One can almost always trace the abundance or lack of compassion to a child’s home life. Parents who spoil their children teach them that material things and good looks are so important that the value of anyone without those things is somehow lower. Parents who teach their kids that violence, greed, and survival of the fittest are the paths to success beget children who bring those same beliefs to school and regurgitate them on innocent children.

At the same time, parents who raise their children to see the good in others, to value the human worth and dignity in others, regardless of their gifts, talents, and material trappings — those parents send humble and compassionate children to school. Unfortunately, some of those kids can emerge as the target of bullies.

We can talk about the problems of the world until we’ve exhausted ourselves, but if we really want to make an impact, start by teaching your children what compassion means and how to show it. Schools, churches and communities can attempt to educate our kids about the evils of bullying and how to deal with bullies, but it won’t be enough until an overwhelming number of parents teach their children about the overwhelming grace of compassion.

Richard Scott is a seventh-grade English teacher and football coach at Columbiana Middle School.