Choosing forgiveness

I am not one to spend a lot of time watching videos on YouTube, but I did, however, navigate over to to view the mid-June viral video of Greece, N.Y. middle school children harassing bus monitor Karen Klein. Because my job involves a healthy dose of writing and researching the behavior and predilections of children, I felt it was important to see this—despite that I knew it would harsh on my mellow.

A while back, I worked with a preeminent wolf biologist and I learned a lot about pack behavior, alphas and betas, how animals can turn on each other—and also how they can work together toward a common goal, such as taking down prey. I see no differ-ence between wolves and deer and those boys on the bus, harassing a woman who could have been my mother, or your gramma.

Reading accounts online, excerpts from news interviews, it’s clear that all involved believe their lives are forever changed. One parent says the event will “scar our family for life.”I hope this isn’t the case.

At some point, all involved will have to dig down deep, ascertain the motivations that led them to this event, and then make a decision to forgive. Forgiveness is not about pardoning the action itself, but accepting that what happened is past and cannot be changed. The only next step is to look to the future, and do better.The boys involved have newly entered a difficult and delicate life stage: puberty. The misfiring hormones, the lack of a fully developed frontal lobe, all of these factors coupled with the event’s fallout are working against them, in essence, in regard to moving forward with confidence into adulthood. I worry that depression will set in, that certain self-destructive behaviors so many teens and tweens struggle with, will be intensified.

As your children head back to school, take some time with them. Connect. Look them in the eyes; let them know you are there for them, but also make them aware of the behavior you expect when they hop on the bus, or interact with teachers and other adults in authority. I am convinced that we can’t always spare our kids from bullies, but we can do our due diligence in making certain our kids aren’t going to be the sorry subject of the next YouTube video.