Guest Column: It is time to revisit the Golden Rule every day

Published 7:30 pm Monday, January 1, 2018

My Point of View by Robin Brown

Cyberbullying among our youth has been prevalent in the news recently. A key word search will get hundreds of hits for news articles, blogs, books and prevention seminars on the topic. Even our local paper has printed a series of articles on the subject. Parents, teachers, principals, superintendents, social workers and law enforcement officials analyze the nature of the problem, and how we might teach our youth to react if bullied or if witness to a bullying event.

Robin Brown

We worry especially about the prevalence of cyberbullying for many reasons — how easily and secretively a student can be bullied, the ability to bully or be bullied 24 hours per day and the devastating events that have happened after so many incidents of bullying.

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Schools are required by Minnesota Statute to have a policy in place that addresses bullying, and although every school’s policy is not identical, each policy defines what bullying is and states consequences for students who bully. That said, you should be easily able to read bullying policies from across the state by accessing the school’s student handbook online.

As important as it is that schools are dedicated to the safety of all students, to take proper actions when bullying occurs and to teach students how to be good citizens, we need to be reminded of one important fact. Schools are in session only about 15 percent of the year — 174 days multiplied by seven hours per day. Students are in the care of their parents or other adults for the other 85 percent of the year. Eighty-five percent of the year students are not in school.

During the past 22 years in my profession as a teacher, I have read countless articles and attended multiple workshops about bullying — what causes it, how we might prevent it, how do we deal with it when it happens. What I have learned is that in many cases, children that are bullied can grow up to be adults that bully. And it is not too big of a jump to suggest that adults that bully can become people of power that bully. And power may be anything from a lower level position of leadership to a CEO of a multibillion dollar company or even the leader of the free world.

Bullying has a lot to do with power over someone. It has to do with a lack of empathy for others — an inability to place one’s self in another’s shoes. It projects a “me first” philosophy and an”‘others” are lesser attitude.

If we take a moment to reflect on what we read in the news, we might conclude that so much of the negative in the world — illegal and nearly illegal — could be identified as bullying. Whether it is people using their positions of power to harass vulnerable employees, someone causing public shame on another for the sake of a joke, a group grabbing privileges for themselves while the less fortunate are left behind, or on a grander scale, a leader playing fast and loose with the nation’s safety through his bullying behavior.

We teach our children to treat each other with kindness, and we hope that they are safe from bullies. We do this because, at a local level, we know our children will do better if they get along with others, know how to work through disagreements and have lots of friends. Chances are, they will live longer, happier and more productive lives.

It just seems to me the same reasons we know children should treat each other with kindness are the same reasons a nation should treat other nations with kindness. Wouldn’t we all live longer, happier, more productive lives?

Maybe it is time we all revisit the Golden Rule — treat others as we wish to be treated. Maybe it is time we all determine to live the Golden Rule every day, for the good it does and the example our children will observe.  Maybe it is time we reteach the Golden Rule — not only to our little children, but also to our young adults. Maybe it is time we all take responsibility for our neighbors and treat them as we would like to be treated.

Robin Brown of Moscow Township is a former District 27A representative.