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Bullies thrive when civility and respect for others decline

Del. Jon Cardin's recent comment on bullying suggesting that "kids were hurting kids" while "parents and teachers hadn't a clue" was remarkable ("Journey in grief leads to new curbs on bullying," May 2). Where has Mr. Cardin been?

As a mother of three since 1980, my children and I can attest to the escalation and prevalence of bullying over the past 30 years. Teacher training on bullying in all its forms, including cyber-bullying, is provided at the start of every school year. Anti-bullying assemblies are held annually.

Education starts at home. Children do not belong to the collective. Civility has been remarkably short-shrifted over the past 50 years under the guise of social reform. It has also suffered under the threat of lawsuits for every blessed thing — including, but not limited to, defending self, home and property.

Bullies exist among every socioeconomic and age group in America. Bullies are in homes, in public or work settings. Bullies are on radio talk shows and television stations too.

We are no longer collectively or individually assumed fit to determine what is "reasonable" in place of what is politically correct. The mess we are in is called society running amok.

Years ago, high school students were bullying my 8-year-old daughter on the bus every day. Her bus driver not only confirmed it was happening, but also told me that she had written "referrals" on the perpetrators and "nothing happened."

I boarded the school bus when it reached the high school platform after dropping off the elementary children and had a polite conversation with the teenagers. The bullying stopped. It was worth being called to the principal's office and putting up with his criticism in order to ensure the emotional and physical well being of my child.

My father ran a school that was safe and free of bullies when he was principal. If he recognized a need to address any violation of "common decency," he did so. Social upheaval in America since World War II has been crude, rude and tumultuous.

We eliminated the few moments of silence at the start of each school day when every mouth was shut and the great sound of silence could shift any number of possible perspectives into focus. Visit public schools today and simply listen. In many places it is unbelievably inappropriate and noisy.

Grace McComas found the only silence she could from her tormentors. My prayers are with her family.

Virginia Kerr, Chestertown

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