Younger generations must be educated on cultural differences to address violence sparked by bullying.
Late last month, a 13-year-old boy was heinously bullied in public by seven teenagers between the ages of 13 and 17 in Upper Darby, Pa. New technology allowed the boys to video tape the entire act via cell phone, which played over and over on the news for weeks.
The targeted boy, Nadin Khoury, and his family are immigrants from Liberia.
Was it his accent that intimidated the bullies?
Last year, a case of school harassment flooded the newspapers internationally when more than two-dozen students were attacked at South Philadelphia High School.
The students attacked were Asian and almost all recent immigrants.
Bullying seems to be a custom in our society and seems almost inevitable at this point because parents, political officials and school districts are not taking proper action.
Zhi Li, a sophomore chemistry major, went to Northeast High School in Northeast Philadelphia. Nearly two years later, he said he still remembers the acts of violence he witnessed between the Hispanic and African-American students.
Sociology professor Dr. Mary Stricker said being aware of the bullying is one thing, but schools, teachers and public officials need to discuss why students are bullying.
Ethnic difference is one factor, as is the need to be dominant. It has become natural for humans to feel the need to be superior, and because of this, the youth violence today is stemming from adult mindsets against cultural differences.
Adults are all about “retribution, revenge and punishment,” and youth follow their example, Stricker said.
Racial violence is the easiest, most accessible means of attack, and that is how the youth bullies gain their dominance – through racial discrimination.
Tensions between different ethnic groups, in particular African-Americans and African immigrants, are “happening all over the country and not just in urban areas,” Stricker said.
It is hard to say what will fix this issue, but what is currently being done is clearly ineffective.
I am not denying banning cell phones in schools, sending the kids to juvenile detention centers and installing state-of-the-art security cameras have not had any positive effects, but there is much more that needs to be done to realistically see a change in youth violence.
All negative mindsets toward other cultures must change, whether students are the bullies or the victims.
The only way for this to happen is for all teachers, principals, public officials and community members to change their attitudes, too. Open attitudes that are accepting to different ethnicities must be implemented in society.
“You have to have intensively long term, consistent, intervention, where people are talking to each other,” Stricker said. “You have to have dialogue, you have to have discussion.”
Everyone, including professionals, must get involved in the process to prevent bullying.
Yes, it will be time consuming, and yes, it will be costly. But isn’t a safe environment to be educated in among one of the most important aspects of being in the United States?
There is no punishment that will ever stop ethnic youth violence, therefore, education and change in society are the only steps toward recovery.
Lauren Hertzler can be reached at email@example.com.