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Monday, October 3, 2011

Ruthless Bully Pulpits and Anti-Bullying Month

Politicians tossing scorching sound bites like lethal darts on the national stage and talk show hosts shouting caustic vitriol into microphones take note - today is the first day of National Anti-Bullying Month for schools across the country.

Think about that conceptual juxtaposition for a moment.

This morning the Green Island learning community acknowledged the arrival of National Anti-Bullying Month by assembling in a sea of blue with clothing of that color signifying support for awareness programs preventing intimidation and harassment. Mayor Ellen McNulty-Ryan, and executive assistant and Albany County legislator Sean Ward, joined us in the ceremony and reinforced efforts to eliminate bullying.

Later, once I settled in at home and perused the several news sources that serve to inform me each day, I found it difficult to scan the pages without discovering some reference to blatantly polarizing and blasphemous barbs exchanged between politicians on either side of the aisle anxious to grab the attention and vote of the public. With so many different types of news sources in the 24/7 world we live in now it has become so difficult for one to be "heard" amid all the "noise and clutter" that those seeking voter support stretch to outrageous levels to distinguish themselves from competitors. Then there are the talk show hosts/political entertainers who sink to such ever lower and increasingly uncivil depths that their relentless shock has come to desensitize the audience and serve more to sell merchandise and slogans than ideas. Theirs is a quest for fame and self-promotion. The name-calling and bullying - shouting over each other and using increasingly toxic language - hardly represent appropriate role models for our children. Sadly, the advent of National Anti-Bullying Month did not render even a pause in the verbal wars that fill the airwaves, the newsprint, and Internet sites even though perhaps all of the aforementioned politicians/talk show hosts have subscribed to and supported legislation outlawing bullying (apparently in schools - not government buildings or the television or radio studio).

But in Green Island and countless other schools throughout the country we were resolute in encouraging and teaching children to exercise respectful choices, agreeing to disagree, and working together to create and sustain a safe and orderly environment. Sometimes I think a good old fashioned Kindergarten teacher needs to seize the microphone at the next congressional debate/political talk show and admonish the adults for forcing a lose-lose gridlock in Washington by bullying each other without compromise and acting like unsupervised kids quarreling on the playground. They all need to flip their cards and stay after school!

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