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Bullying....a cry for help? Are we listening?

Shots rang out once again today in an American high school, as a student chose to turn to violence against his fellow classmates, killing at least one and injuring several others. Yet, many times they only choose to harm themselves. While we don't yet have the details on this latest tragedy, it is becoming a scenario that plays out several times a year across our country, each time my heart sinks for all families, students, teachers and administrators involved.

What is it that is pushing students to these lengths? Initial reports indicate that once again, bullying was likely a root cause. This isn't the first time we have seen this play out as such, but what is being done about bullying? Many schools struggle with generating a comprehensive policy, and those with the policies in place don't always do a great job of enforcing them. In today's world, with these types of headlines becoming all too common, the stance that "kids will be kids" is one we just can no longer afford to take.

My question punishing the "Bully" the answer? A quote that I believe I heard on Oprah, although I am not certain of its origin, is that only "hurt people, hurt people." If that is true, and I believe it to be so, bullying really appears to be a cry for help, from a being who is feeling less than whole. Much has been said about the lives of those who act out in violence against their bullies, but what do we really hear about the bullies themselves and the world which they live in.

Are mom and dad just not there enough, show them enough affection, are they just insecure in themselves, feeling lost or not fitting in, or perhaps are being overshadowed by a sibling? Are they just not getting the love and attention they need to feel whole? Why do they feel the need to act out? Is it the only mechanism they know to feel less broken? The shattered light bulb needing to break the one still shining and whole?

Frankly, some bullying behavior is simply learned. You guessed it, bullies grow up to become....Bullies. But that isn't always the case. So, the question begs, how do we strive to be whole and nurture wholeness in the children of America? Again, it begins at home, with YOU.

As parents and adults, swirling in a vortex of "busy-ness" of life, we rarely take the time to look at our own lives to determine how we are feeling. Do you find joy in your life, your work, your spirit, your outside activities, friends and relationships? We know how it is, when everything seems to be going right in your world, virtually nothing can sway you from that positive feeling, but when you are dissatisfied with any aspect of your life, or just having a bad day, it can take something miniscule to set you off, totally change the trajectory of your day.

You see, it is by example that we most effectively teach. We teach our children about the world, about dreaming and doing, and living and loving, but how do we teach them to deal with stress, conflict resolution and perspective?

I try to teach my children to see bullies as being "broken." To have pity on them for they are trying to fill up the cracks in their brokenness, by hurting others. Knowing that their actions will never truly fill up that emptiness they feel inside. To have perspective on what their lives might be like, where they are not feeling loved or appreciated, and the jealousy they may feel toward the unbroken.

That doesn't mean they should sit back and silently resign to live with bullying, it just sheds some light on the brokenness in the world. Hopefully inspiring future generations to better understand how to strive for wholeness in their lives. Wholeness which cannot be filled by material goods, food, drugs, alcohol, or the abuse of others.

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