I was honored to moderate a recent forum, “Sticks and Stones, Bullying in the Schools and the Community,” sponsored by the Central Coast Clergy and Laity for Justice (CCCLJ). It featured young panelists from minority communities who had been targeted by bullies, as well as SLO Police Chief Deborah Linden for the Anti Defamation League and SLO County Sheriff Ian Parkinson.
We learned that bullying consists of acts of repeated aggressive behavior intended to hurt, harass, or intimidate another person physically, verbally, or emotionally. It includes hazing, harassment, and verbal or symbolic hate speech, such as cross burning. Since the rise of the internet, cyber bullying—on social networking or media commentary sites, e-mail, or YouTube—has become a virulent form of bullying, more so when it is anonymous. If not prevented in childhood, bullying may “mature” into adult behavior, for instance racist or sexist hate mongering, intimidation designed to chill First Amendment rights, orchestrated attempts at character assassination, and/or media disinformation “hit pieces” targeting individuals.
CCCLJ’s support of school intervention programs helps prevent bullying from poisoning not only the student experience, but also the future of our democracy. For this, CCCLJ is to be commended.