November 24, 2010 Editor's note: The following guest column was written by Tom Janicki. Tom and his wife Mary Ann have lived in the Allenton/Almont area for the past 40 years. Tom, who also farmed part time, is retired from a 36 year career with Warner Lambert/Parke Davis in Rochester. He and his wife enjoy hiking the national parks and spending time with their grandkids.
Some of our state legislators have stepped in to fight bullying by introducing House Bill 4580. My wife, Mary Ann, asked me to write a column in support of this bill. I have known Mary Ann since grade school and her disdain for bullies ranks them almost on par with pedophiles. Both can steal the joys of childhood and growing up.
The State Board of Education reported that 28 percent of students who are bullied make a plan to commit suicide. That's a long term solution for a short term problem. We attended St. Lawrence Schools in the 1950s. We did have bullies, but bullying wasn't carried to the extremes as it is today. St. Lawrence's principal, Sister George Marie, had a wooden paddle in her office and used it often for any infraction of the rules or bullying. When you followed her down the hall to her office, her flowing black habit would have you thinking she could have been Darth Vader's mother. She may have not stopped the bullying, but she made it painful for some of the bullies. That was back when parents sided with the teacher. It's not that way today. Some parents have a tough time admitting junior may be guilty of anything.
Will the bill to fight bullying on school property help if passed? Is this bill enforceable? Can you legislate respect for one another? It has helped in other states. Can we pass a law expecting the schools of today to stop bullying? Where are Mom and Dad? Today it seems some parents raise their children; while other parents just have children. Today you have parents who are surprised their high school student can't read a newspaper or make change for a $20 bill. How much time have they spent with their children? Bullies aren't born; but somehow they grow up that way.
Having gone to school with bullies and witnessed the evolution of them as well as other classmates over the past 50 plus years, I have found that most bullies don't function well in the real world and end up losers. They can't build a lasting and meaningful relationship with a spouse when they grow up devoid of respect and concern for the needs and feeling of others. Without these qualities, you can't develop a successful working relationship with your coworkers or subordinates. At our 40th class reunion, one of our over-the-hill class bullies walked up to a classmate he hadn't seen in years. He greeted her with these words: "You're sure fat!" She is the vice-president of a corporation; he is unemployed, living in his mother's basement. Would you consider him a loser? His three ex-wives do. The members of the class of '58 are finishing life's journey now. They seem to be more successful and satisfied with life than the bullies they encountered when growing up. It seems the bullies showed us the importance of respect in our relationships and the value of friendships.
Mary Ann believes if we can save one child, this bill will be well worth it. With only one political party residing in Lansing, (instead of the two party stalemate we paid for in the past eight years) passing this bill shouldn't be a problem.The House passed the bill and sent it to the Senate May 13, 2010. If you feel as Mary Ann does, contact your state Senator and ask them to get it done!