Most of us have heard an insult at some point in our life. Perhaps that is why many do not really understand the problem that bullying has become. According to the website dosomething.org, over 3.2 million students are bullied ever year with over one hundred and fifty thousand skipping school every day to avoid being the target of bullies.
Melvin Jerome Blank was born during the early years of the twentieth century and grew up on the west coast of the United States. As a teenager a teacher bullied him, taunting “You will become what your last name is – a blank, a nothing.” The bullying was so painful that Blank changed the spelling of his last name. At the age of nineteen Melvin became the youngest professional orchestra conductor in the USA. Shortly thereafter he began a career on radio as a voice actor. He worked on the popular Jack Benny radio program and when Jack Benny got his own television program, Melvin went with him. Talented in making funny sounds, Melvin had begun working in short cartoon films and he became popular voice actor for Warner Brothers Studio. He continued his voice acting work for Warner Brothers and became known as “Mel Blanc – The Man of a Thousand Voices.”
Not every bullying story has a happy ending. Suicide is the third leading cause of death in young people ages 15 to 24 years of age according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. While bullying is not responsible for all of these suicides, those who are bullied think about suicide more often than those who are not victims of bullying.
Bulling is not just hurling insults. There is a threat component. Children are often taught to stand up to bullies but really, it is the adults who should stand up and speak out. The first thing we need to do in this campaign to stop bullying is to set a good example. Words have meaning. That is their purpose. We need to make sure we say what we mean but in a positive manner. We also need to stop bullying when it happens. Sarcasm may sound funny but all too often it is a hidden form of bullying. There is nothing funny about mocking another person.
We live in a community. Whether your neighborhood is spread out over a rural area or you live in a heavily congested metropolitan area, we all have a community. Learn what resources your community has to prevent bullying and create more if they are needed. Stand up and make your voice count for something positive.