Taking a stand against bullying

Elizabeth Hersh is Senior Rabbi at Temple Emanuel (TE), and a blogger on the Jewish Light’s website (stljewishlight.com/chaplain).

By Rabbi Elizabeth Hersh

Lately my son’s fifth grade collective classroom has been engaged in discussion about rumor mongering and bullying. Naturally, no one admits to such heinous behavior but we all know it is happening. It’s a common occurrence among adults as well. These terrible crimes are not limited to school-age children.

Have you ever spent time with a child who has been bullied? Have you witnessed the spirit slowly withdrawn from a child whose self-esteem is diminished because of the cruelty of another who obviously suffers from a lack of self-worth? Have you looked in the eyes of another whose very being is called into question by mean-spirited peers? Have you watched as your child stands up to bullies for the sake of another? 

Who do these bullies become in life? Do they change their evil ways to become heads of companies, sports figures or the person who lives next door? Or do they simply change their targets?

Some, I know, become those who abuse women through prostitution. Women are bullied even as you read this through sex trafficking and the pimps and johns who use physical violence and drug addiction to control their lives. These women’s lives are held in the closed palm of the very man who inflicts the physical and psychological pain that kills the spirit and the being.

Bullying on the playground and in the classroom is not a passing phase. It is a learned and accepted behavior that grows increasingly more dangerous with each incident not reported and acted upon. It is not a case of “boys being boys” or “you know how girls can be.” Imagine the lives you will save by fighting against this stain on society. I challenge you to save a life.