The epidemic of meanness

Riding the bus can lead to encounters
 with some mean kids.
I have no mean bone in my very Southern body, yet even I, in certain times of my life have found a mean comment, thought or action slip out.

It was most probably my desperation of fitting into a group, PMS, or just someone that deserved it.
Sweet as Ice tea.
That's me!

Life is much better when you treat everyone with kindness and respect, even the rude ones; but some folks are just mean spirited.

 You can’t cure meanness.

Our kids are growing up in an environment where cruelty is much easier and accessible than in our days.

There is being mean and then there is “Bullying” which is the severe case that is under assault by our culture and it is a horrible person that does that deed. The climate of meanness seems to permeate the hallways and byways of our society today. It’s everywhere and at every age, although our younger are the most vulnerable.

With no place to hide from critics, the conversation of insults, ridicule and hate darts are coming at our kids via technology. The inability to disconnect socially is creating damaged self-esteems and fearful children and in true bullying cases is sending them into hopeless despair.

It is a National calamity.

Why are people so mean?  

And why are we letting them get away with it?

In my experience, ages ago, the words from a mean girl or guy were usually hearsay or second-handed and rarely upfront and personal.  I can remember the impact of such cruel comments on my delicate emotional state as my hormones were raging and my sense of self developing.
My sons school mates
from Grissom HS were very nice kids.

Would I have been able to handle a daily update of my sorry and unimportant self from my worse critic?

Guys are mean as well, and use the culture of sports to excuse their ugliness as we are seeing in our daily news update on the NFL scandal where Dolphin’s players are under the scrutiny. At first, it was dismissed as a guy thing.

Mean is mean no matter what you call it.

An insecure male can try to promote his manliness by demeaning those around him. Girls do the same; the mean girl is worried about her looks and will degrade another girl’s attributes to make her feel better about herself.

It is truly a cruel world we send our kids into, but we can’t shelter them from these storms of life forever. We must educate them about how the world works and what we can do to combat such poison.

Acknowledging this behavior, superstar Jennifer Lawrence this week in an interview with Access Hollywood stated,

“I think that we are just so unsupportive. When I watch these women on shows pointing to these women and judging them and calling them ugly and fat. It’s just like, where have we come? Why are we here? Why are we doing this to each other?

Mean spirited tools of the trade are: backbiting, spreading rumors, targeting, ostracizing and using negative verbal language.

So is a mean person a bully? What is the difference in a case of bullying and just a person with bad character?

The line is fine indeed for some, but the key signs for bullying are: intentional and repetitive harm (verbal or physical), imbalance of power such as age, size, social status, and a continuous negative behavior.

It is like a political campaign against another candidate to do intentional harm.  They spread smear propaganda and target weakness to meet their agenda of harm.

How can you spot a Mean Girl or Guy?

  • Look for green, such as with envy because they want what the other person has either their grades, looks or even boyfriend or girlfriend.
  • A Mean person is worried about what others think and about their own appearance.
  • They are drama queens, experiencing many conflicts with others and have limited friendships, usually in their clique which has to meet their high standards and control issues.

Rebecca Ann Sedwick, a 12 year-old who was targeted by two classmates committed suicide from the bullying she experienced. The two mean girls were arrested.

Sedwick’s mother stated, “The best legacy for my daughter is for all parents everywhere to monitor their kids and to make sure they know everything that they are doing.”

If you have kids in school, chances are they have met some of these mean spirited classmates. Maybe they are not in a severe case of bullying, but they have or will have experiences you cannot protect them from.

What does a parent do?

  1. Be aware. Encourage discussion in a setting where they can talk freely. Listen without interrupting and fixing the problem.
  2. Never make light of their issues or dismiss them with, “It will be better next week,”, or “Ignore it and it will go away.”
  3. Encourage your kid with your support, making their feelings a genuine priority and show you understand how they feel. Don’t just talk it, walk it.
  4. Keep vigilant on any warning signs such as school performance, sleep patterns, behavior changes, a series of bad mood days, or just a parent’s instinct that something isn’t right.
  5. Ask questions about their day, their friends, and any problems they may be having on a regular basis. Sometimes starting the conversation is better than waiting for them to come to us.
  6. Most of all, in today’s world, if they have technology, monitor it. You should have all of your kid’s passwords.

For my guys, it’s mandatory that I have written down all access to emails, cell phone history, social media accounts, etc. or they do not have one.

Plus, mark out times for them to DISCONNECT. Unplug from the influences of technology, friends, and the world is most important allow them to experience the quiet of their own thoughts.

  • Love your child. 
  • Spend time with them. 
  • Make them feel important to you. 
  • Don’t forget to extend affection. As they grow older and repel your embraces, continue making an effort. Hugs and caresses are important physiologically and emotionally.  
  • Let them know you are praying daily for them and encourage them to meditate and pray for their own good to help them in the stresses of life.
  • Teach your kids skills to empower them. Life lessons such as we cannot control others but we can respond appropriately.  
  • Help them build esteem, praise them and encourage their strengths. 
  • Teach them to express themselves so as not to keep problems to themselves even if they must talk to peers, friends, school counselors, or Church leaders.
  • Tell them it is okay to be assertive and to stand up for them but always in a respectful manner and only as a defense.

As parents, know when it’s time to intervene.  Information is easily accessible about bullying and if concerned feel free to contact your school administration.

It is hard to grow up. If we can help our kids to navigate the path of mean spiritedness then we have taught them well.

Now, if you are the parent of a mean kid, well, then just keep them home please and off the computers! Please.


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