Bullying, the art of killing the human spirit [The Indiana Gazette, by Anthony Frazier, 16/12/2010].

In the news of late have been several stories about bullying and suicide. While these tragedies are often under-reported, they are painful examples of the cruel elements in human interaction.

There are a plethora of websites that deal with the issue and statistics surrounding bullying. But it’s often after a senseless incident that we are shocked back into seeing bullying as the threat that it really is.

Bullying is basically a form of intimidation or domination toward someone who is perceived as weaker. (www.bullyingstatistics.org/)

About 87 percent of students said shootings are motivated by a desire to “get back at those who have hurt them.”(www.bullyingstatistics.blogspot.com/)

But bullying is not limited to just kids in a school yard. It’s exhibited in all facets of our lives: at home, work, school, online, spectator sports, juvenile and adult correction facilities and while driving in the car — even though it’s usually not called bullying.

While there is no place safe from bullying, there are areas where bullying is worse. According to school bullying statistics and cyber bullying statistics from 2007, the five worst states for it were: 1. California, 2. New York, 3. Illinois, 4. Pennsylvania, 5, Washington (www.how-to-stop ullying.com/bully ingstatistics.html).

I remember very well the experiences in my youth of being bullied. Needless to say, I was fortunate that my experiences didn’t push me to suicide or cause me to seek retaliation.

As an adult, I see all types of disrespectful behavior toward others: name-calling, stereotyping, threatening and condescending comments both sexist and homophobic. On one hand, we can be caring and loving to each other; on the other, we can just as easily humiliate.

Bullying is about behavior and values and, to a certain extent, is culturally accepted. The observers also play a role in this scenario. We can and should break this crippling cycle.

It’s not the skinny, black, gay, odd, redhead, handicapped, fat kid or adult causing bullying to happen. It’s the hole in the bullies’ heart, where compassion and love are stored, that’s missing. That is at the root of it all. Bullying is not a spectator sport; everyone is a participant.

Let’s not wait for another memorial to gather and show our support. Take action now.

Have we forgotten the words, “I’m sorry,” and “I apologize for my actions”?