I have some not-so-breaking news: Bullying still exists.
Growing up in Northwest Indiana and attending public schools, I was always taught by adults that bullying was wrong. Teachers would explain how kids needed to accept everyone for who they are and how they should not harm anyone physically or emotionally just for the sake of doing it.
We would have lectures with cartoon characters, guest speakers would be brought in and the adults in charge would reprimand students who were bullying other kids.
But what happens when everyone involved — the bully, the victim and the bystanders — are adults?
That was exactly the case in the Miami Dolphins’ bullying scandal where former player Richie Incognito supposedly bullied fellow teammates. including Jonathan Martin who would eventually leave the team.
Incognito, a 30-year-old adult and veteran of the NFL, would do terrible things to his teammates from verbal abuse, physically hurting players to just plain relentless treatment to players like Martin.
Bullying is still a very real problem. Researchers from dosomething.org, an anti-bullying website, claim 1 in 7 students is a victim to bullying. Why does bullying like this have to exist, especially in places like a locker room?
I’ve been around sports my whole life and I’ve seen bullying and the aftermath of it. We cannot pretend that this type of thing is not happening every single day.
It can lead not only to young athletes quitting the games and teams they love, but also long-term psychiatric issues that impact the victim off of the playing field. Sports is meant to be an escape to children and high school students, not a place where they feel uncomfortable or scared.
We cannot treat the entire Incognito bullying situation as an outlier, something that is sad and needs to be dealt with individually. We need to use it as a red flag. This is something that needs to be continued to be talked about with young athletes and children so we can turn bullying into the taboo it should be.
As kids, some believe that bullying and putting others down is “cool.” They get the laughs from their peers so they keep bullying. Helping children understand bullying and making being a bully “uncool” will help put an end to it.
Although it has been over a month since the Richie Incognito bullying scandal broke out, the story needs to continue to be heard. We need to continue talking about it in the media and bringing it up in our classrooms. By continuing to make Incognito a staple and prime example of what not to do, we can make bullying become taboo to kids like it needs to be.
Bullying is still a problem. We need to continue to talk about it in our classrooms and our locker rooms. Because if not, it might take yet another Richie Incognito harming another Jonathan Martin’s life before the conversation starts up again.