On the Friday before the July 4th weekend, I was invited to appear on JuJu Chang’s show “Mom’s Get Real” which airs on the cable channel ABC News Now and on the web. I have appeared on the show before, but remotely so I was glad to have a chance to join the gang in the studio on the Good Morning America set in NYC. I brought my entourage (a.k.a. Dave) who hung out with me in the green room and on the set. JuJu told him he “looks like he is on vacation.” I explained he always looks like that. His relaxed presence kept me calm, although this time around, I dfelt fairly comfortable. I must say sitting on a sofa gabbing with three other women is 100 times easier than sitting in a satellite studio talking to a camera. And then there is the hair and makeup which I wish I had every day of my life.
The topic was cyber-bullying – what it is, why it happens and how to handle it. Part of being a good TV guest is not hogging the conversation. So I am happy to say that I controlled myself. But I have some strong feelings about this topic, which I alluded to but never had the opportunity to really expand on the show. Lucky for me, I have my own bully pulpit right here. (Pun absolutely intended. As an aside: I think the term “bully pulpit” is one of the funniest phrases ever. It is a serious platform that sounds completely silly. Don’t you think?) Bully pulpit. Bully pulpit. Bully pulpit. I can’t say that word without smiling.
Back to the show and the topic at hand. I won’t go on and on but rather state my cyber-bullying position in 3 points here:
1. There should be zero tolerance for bullying in the school system. I think schools have come a long way in this area but there is room to improve. Bullies need to be put on notice that if they purposely torment another child in the school, they get suspended. Period. C’mon, what are we waiting for to put this in place?
2. The cool thing about cyber-bullying – if there is one – is that it leaves a trail of evidence that can be used against the perpetrator. In my day, if someone tortured you at your locker, there was no proof. It was one child’s word against the other. Now, there is no denying what you texted, wrote on a Facebook wall or IM’d. Sucks for you, stupid bully.
3. Parents and educators need to be vigilant about monitoring and responding to cyber-bullying. More often than not, kids won’t tell their parents when it is happening because they don’t want to make it worse. As parents, it is our God-given right to make it worse – so that it can get better. If grown-ups have access to these bullies’ words, we can do something about it. If there is a zero tolerance policy, bullies should know better than to test us.
I actually believe that bullies are not awful kids – they are insecure, in pain, or just plain bored. I’m think that many would get scared straight pretty quickly if we brought the wrath of the school system down on them hard just once.
Here is the show – in two segments because it was long. I must tell you that JuJu is super cool and the kind of woman I could hang out with and have cocktails. (This woman anchors GMA, Moms Get Real and a few other ABC News shows, is training for a triathlon, travels and has 3 little boys!) And Laura Bennett from Project Runway could not have been sweeter. (Not to be outdone, she has 6 kids, lives in NY and just wrote a book, “Didn’t I Feed You Yesterday.”) Both these women make my life look like a vacation – and I like that.
Have a great and safe weekend, MoB readers! And before you go, what do you think about bullies?