My heart goes out to the families of Chardon whose lives were so recently shattered. A friend of mine asked, “OK, here’s a question… How many kids have to die in suicides and school shootings, how many other kids have to be injured, and how many *other* kids have to be totally traumatized, in order for schools and society to take the bullying problem seriously?”

This rather looks like blaming the victims here. Two children are dead and four more are injured. The small community is shattered. The criminal wasn’t even a part of this school system, but from earlier reports in a school for children who are “at risk” which is politically correct speak for “not so good”.

Years ago, we opted to mainstream to put children together so we could all learn to get along and not be bothered by differences among us. I don’t think this is working particularly well and I’m not completely sure it is the kids’ fault.

I know that the nose-picker kid who liked to put boogers everywhere was not my favorite student and I would always offer a tissue when I saw the mining activity begin. I also always washed the keyboard after class. But really, do you think this kid was bullied or was the peer pressure a way to socialize against public booger excavation? It is gross.

How many of us like to be sequestered with someone with annoying habits or tics. Think of being in an office next to a gum snapper or pencil tapper. Even just being in a one hour meeting with someone like that is enough to make the rest of the participants cranky. If you say something, are you a bully? Is the snapper/tapper a bully?

The criminal was said to be a loner. Does this mean he was shunned or does it mean he didn’t want to be around others? Do you socialize with everyone in your immediate area? Do you have a least favorite neighbor who doesn’t get invited to neighborhood events? My own neighbor has made it abundantly clear that she chooses to be left alone. I comply. Am I a bully?

What adult hasn’t looked at a People of Wal-Mart page of pictures? You are nothing but a bunch of bullies. I mean really! The entire premise of the website and the emails and videos it has spawned is nothing short of making fun of people. Of course, they are living outside the norms of society and rather beg to be laughed at.

When we moved, my son was eight years old. He came home from school crying. The kids were making fun of him. I asked more questions and found out they were calling him names on the playground. “What names?” I asked. “Thumb sucker,” he answered. My reply was something along the lines of telling him I knew the perfect response. “For God’s sake. You are eight years old and shouldn’t be sucking you thumb at school. Stop doing that and no one will call you that name again.” He stopped and so did the name calling.

What responsibility do we as citizens of the world have to conform to the basic societal norms of our region? If you are telling me they are just kids and can’t help their behavior, then those teasing them are also just kids and can’t control their behavior as well, so that doesn’t work. When you live outside the social construct, you eventually get on the People of Wal-Mart page or something similar.

Maybe some other good questions to ask are: When are we going to stop with a kneejerk reaction and think that everything bad in schools is a reaction to bullying? When are adults going to stop their own behaviors that are the same as those that are labeled bullying in school? This means no more gossip or making fun of people who are far outside the norm. It means befriending everyone in your immediate area regardless of compatibility.

If we believe that friendships are the litmus test of acceptance, how do we teach our children about inappropriate friends who have no right to their time? I just read about a teen girl whose ex-boyfriend is stalking her and pressuring her to get back together. Who is the bully? I mean, aren’t we all supposed to be nice? In the real world, we have standards.

In the world in which I live, there are people I can’t stand being around. I don’t care what anybody does in private, but when we are out together in our combined social sphere, we need to behave in ways that are acceptable. If you choose to live outside the norm, there are consequences.

Are there bullies? Yes. Should that all stop? Yes. Do some people bring bad reactions on themselves? Yes. Are we allowed to talk about that? No – that is blaming the victim. Unless it is a couple dead teens in Ohio.

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