Posted by Barbara Gilmour on March 06, 2017
Our rudeness and incivility is a key factor in bullying today. In fact, the 'bullying cycle' is now widely believed to begin with rudeness or incivility, grow into bullying, and then often escalate into violence. The challenge is addressing the problem at the beginning of the cycle, or the rudeness, which is the easiest place to start.
I am sure that all of you have experienced rudeness at some time. Perhaps you encountered road rage on a super highway or even on your small town street. You might now be aware of how many drivers are texting rather than paying attention to the road. Do we really have to get somewhere in such a hurry that we jeopardize the lives of ourselves, our kids in the car, or those around us, either in other cars or pedestrians?
Or, maybe you had a meal in a nice restaurant ruined by a child running around screaming. You noticed that his parents were enjoying their meal and were totally oblivious to his behavior. They also were not noticing the angry stares of other customers whose meals were being ruined. Or maybe the service in that restaurant was so poor, that you got up and left. We've all experienced an impatient or surly server.
Then there is the obnoxious parent screaming at (and embarrassing) their own child, at a game that is supposed to be fun. Nothing can hurt a child's self-esteem and erode their confidence like the constant belittling when that child doesn't perform to the parent's expectations. And, really, what image does that parent portray to the rest of the spectators, team members, coaches, and officials?
We wonder what happened to kids' manners today. Maybe we should also wonder what happened to the manners and social skills we would expect adults to have? What kinds of behaviors are we modeling for our children?
Numerous studies over the last 10-15 years have reported that nearly 90% of us consider rudeness a serious problem in our society. I'm sure you would agree with that. The worst of rudeness is bullying and violence, which are issues of great concern to kids, parents, and community leaders. School bullying is so prevalent that 50 states now have legislation to deal with these issues. But most of the anti-bullying policies now in place are reactive, and research is showing that they are not working.
I just saw a Facebook post where Marlo Thomas was interviewing Judge Judy about bullying. Judge Judy believes that the parents are the ones responsible for teaching their children how to behave properly, so they can get along with peers. These skills need to be taught before children go to school. She added, if your child is the one doing the bullying, it's your responsibility to change that behavior. I thought it great when she said that we don't ask parents to teach our kids math, history, or geography, so why should we expect teachers to teach our kids manners and social skills.