Beyond the Cusp

April 22, 2011

Another Blind Study on Bullying

The White House with the U.S. Department of Education recently held an in-depth forum to draw attention to national, state and local efforts to curb the growing problem of bullying. A study by researchers at Simmons College published in the Journal of Children and Media was utilized as the core study for information on aspects behind bullying. One of the assumptions agreed upon was that bullying has become a far more pervasive problem than in previous generations and that the degree of violence has also reached new and startling heights. There was contention on whether violent video games were a strong driving factor of increased violence and bullying with one group noting that most children who play these games are not drawn into violence or bullying while another group claimed that use of these violent video games was prevalent in the lives of those children who were responsible for much of the violence and bullying. My feelings is that claiming that violent video games or violence in the entertainment industry and other equally presumed culpable examples of violence in recreational venues is responsible for increased violence and bullying is similar to claiming that drinking milk leads to drug use as virtually all kids using drugs started by drinking milk. Those making the violence they see causes the violence they do are seeking an easy target on which to lay blame rather than examining the real problems in society that contribute to these problems.

I know what you’re saying, “OK Beyond the Cusp, what are the reasons according to you for this situation?” Well, to start with, one of the problems is the considerably higher tax rates existing today compared to forty or fifty years ago. Due to these higher tax rates, we now have a situation where the vast majority of middle income and lower income families require both parents to have jobs. Basically, as an old complaint goes, one parent supports the family while the other parent pays the government. This leads to not having one parent able to be home when the children are home which leads to unsupervised time where children are more likely to act differently than if a parent were home. Another problem is many people are working longer hours which leave them somewhat exhausted when they finally get home. In our major cities you can add an additional thirty minutes to sometimes over an hour in heavy and stressful traffic getting home. None of these factors lend themselves to allowing for as much quality time between parents and children, a factor that very well affects the children’s behavior.

On another front, where years ago the majority of families attended a Church, Synagogue, Temple, or other religious institution at least once a week for services. These services always included a sermon that often would set forth standards of behavior for living a better life in harmony with others and would warn against bad behavior such as bullying. Children were sent to religious classes where these ideals of behavior were reinforced. No matter how much some may say that this really was not what made a difference, look where the worst behavior exists in our society and you find empty Churches, Synagogues, Temples, and other religious sanctuaries while where bullying and violent behavior is not as prevalent the Churches, Synagogues, Temples, and other religious sanctuaries are filled each weekend. Building a good moral structure in children from a young age, something religious institutions are extremely adept at providing, gives the children a strong foundation which they can rely upon when faced with choices and which is very likely to affect their behavior and steer them away from bullying or other violent actions.

If we, as a country, truly are concerned for our children, then we need to shift much of our societal focus and allow for natural things to guide our youth onto a more respectful and productive path. The first step is to end our societal war on religion and allow religion back into the mainstream of our lives. Put an end to this obsession to remove all religious symbols from our sight. As a Jew, I am not offended in the slightest by a Christmas tree or a Nativity Scene placed in the town square or decorating the police station and fire house with lights. We need to return to a society that rejoices in religious principles that were the basis for the founding of this nation. There is no harm done to have a choir singing Carols using the courthouse steps on Christmas Eve, and if such does offend one, then do not go and listen to them. The war on religion is also a war on our children and the moral fiber of our society. Those who will cry out that religion is not necessary for one to have a moral fiber, I say, true, so very true, but for the majority of us who may have weakness and need a little help and support, religion is so very vital and if you value a moral society, then allow us our crutch.

As far as the taxation dilemma that has robbed children of having one parent home after the school day, that will take a while to repair. Believe it or not, religion also plays a major role in reducing our taxes. We do not need the government to provide the safety net for those who might fall through the cracks or find themselves in rough times. This was originally the purview of our religious institutions. After school activities were originally supervised by mom or dad, whichever parent was able to be home for the children. Somewhere in the last quarter to half century the government decided that it could do better at taking care of those needful of a hand up and were better suited to be the parent for our children with after school programs. They were wrong and we were wrong to allow them to take these things into their hands and then take so much more of our money to pay for their wasteful programs addressing these so-called problems. Let us give taking care of the needy back to the religious institutions that handled this function for centuries and did so with true affection rather than as a cold government bureaucrat. Who is better suited and would take more interest in supervising your children, some after-school care facility employee or a parent? The world somehow operated fairly well without the government replacing our religious institution or taking over the responsibility of raising and supervising our children. Let us go back to these old ways that not only took care of these societal problems and responsibilities, but did so with compassion and enthusiasm that could never be equaled by the average government employee. And even better, allowing the private sector represented by religious institutions and parents to care for our needs has been proven to be fiscally efficient compared to the government. We can have our communities, religious institutions and parents take gentle care with enthusiasm and compassion for less cost or allow government to take responsibility, replacing communities, religious institutions and parents, with higher costs and all the tenderness and compassion of the IRS. You choose.

Beyond the Cusp

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