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Bullying: We need to set better examples for the kids

West Virginia residents already know our kids are growing up in an environment that can be very different from what children in other states experience. In many ways, that is a wonderful thing. But in other ways, it is a problem. For example, a report by WalletHub, “2021’s States with the Biggest Bullying Problems,” shows the Mountain State is in the top ten for the worst bullying.

In fact, West Virginia ranked ninth overall: tenth for bullying prevalence, 22nd for bullying impact and treatment, 18th for anti-bullying laws, fourth for highest percentage of high school students bullied online, eighth for percentage of high school students bullied on school property, 20th for percentage of high school students involved in a physical fight at school, 15th for percentage of high school students who missed school for fear of being bullied, and 12th for student-to-counselor ratio.

Perhaps the most disturbing finding of all was that West Virginia is 12th for percentage of high school students who attempted suicide.

We all know the outdated and misguided socio-cultural norms, combined with crushing poverty, a substance abuse epidemic and other challenges that make the Mountain State a perfect storm for children (and adults) who believe bullying another human being is not only socially acceptable, but for some folks, viewed as a badge of honor for the bullying party.

If you’re clinging to the idea that there is any glory in high school fist fights, or that “well, I was bullied and I’m fine … kids just need to be tougher,” you are part of the problem.

It is disturbing to think we have made so little progress in addressing that mindset — though given the performance of some public figures, it is easy to see how bullying could continue to gain steam.

We are better than that, ladies and gentlemen. Parents, grandparents, teachers, coaches, administrators, we should ALL be better and lead by example. Step one is to admit far too many of those adults need their own attitude adjustments before they can start setting the right example for our kids.

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