Is bullying getting out of control? The recent news regarding Miami Dolphins offensive lineman Jonathan Martin quitting after being routinely bullied by fellow teammate Richie Incognito has garnered national attention on the subject. Similarly, the bully-triggered suicide of Polk County teenager Rebecca Sedwick reaffirms the importance of creating bullying awareness and addressing it promptly in order to curtail the disastrous events that can occur consequently.
According to news reports, Jonathan Martin was routinely harassed with racist and threatening messages that led to his decision to leave the Dolphins. While locker rooms are notorious for being the epicenter of crude and offensive behavior, there is a line that need not and should not be crossed. Rookie hazing in the NFL is usually limited to carrying pads for veterans and shaving heads. However, Martin claimed to have been subjected to racist comments degrading him for being of mixed race. Whether or not the coaches or administration knew of this behavior is yet to be determined, but other players claim to have witnessed this behavior.
The suicide of Rebecca Sedwick is a truly tragic event. After being cyber bullied frequently and ruthlessly by two other teenage girls, Sedwick took her own life in order to end her constant harassment. Subsequently, one of the alleged aggressors went online and callously commented that she did bully Sedwick and did not feel bad about what happened to her. Had the parents of both the victim and the perpetrators known what was going on, they may have been able to put a stop to this behavior before this tragic ending.
Rebecca Sedwick’s mother has announced plans for a civil lawsuit against her daughter’s bullies. Within the lawsuit, they plan to pursue a new state law called “Rebecca’s Law” to criminalize bullying. This would require schools to abide by strict policies to prevent bullying.
Most of us have either been bullied at some point in the past or are currently being bullied in some shape or form. While many victims of bullying simply do not have the strength or courage to put an end to it, others do. It is up to adults to end bullying. Whether the bullying takes place between teammates on professional football teams, colleagues or parents, speaking up is the key to avoiding these types of travesties in the future.
Bullying is serious. If you or your child has been a victim of severe bullying, let us help you. Sometimes it takes a civil lawsuit for the public to see how serious the issue truly is and to punish the perpetrators.
“If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” – Desmond Tutu