by Marcia Lee, Solutions Without Drugs

A dear friend brought this horrible situation of cyber-bullying to my attention recently, suggesting I write about it. I needed to give the subject time and thought because something really deep was moving inside of me. Yes, cyber-bullying is criminal and should stop. But I don’t think telling kids they are bad will do the job. I think we have to examine the root cause of cyber-bullying. What makes kids do this to each other?

The answer that comes to mind is that the youth who are doing the bullying are passing on what was done to them. The renowned Dr. Alice Miller, author of “The Drama of the Gifted Child,” wrote extensively on how later in life human beings often pass on, consciously or unconsciously, the trauma that was done to them in their own childhood. So for me the real question is how are we bullying our children? What is each of us as a parent, teacher, professional, etc. doing to our own children? What is our society doing to our children that makes them bully other children and sometimes even themselves? Can we forgive ourselves for our own mistakes and help our own children?

Are we willing to hear what our children are trying to tell us – about their pain, confusion, hurt, anger, and needs? Instead of listening to our children, are we medicating them to adhere to some strange idea of “normal” or “perfect”, drugging them into obedience against their will? Most children don’t like taking Ritalin or other ADHD medication – they say it makes them feel weird, different, spacey, zombie-like. But parents, teachers, and doctors make children take the pills anyway. Isn’t refusing to respect a child’s will a form of bullying? Are we willing to put out the effort to understand and support the unique humanity and needs of a child? We do that for children subjected to war and terrorism. Can we do that for our own children?

Some so-called experts would like us to believe that medicating/drugging a child is in the child’s best interest, like giving insulin to a diabetic. But ADHD is not a physical disease or a sign of damage in the brain. ADHD is a group of behaviors and those behaviors are saying something we need to listen to. Otherwise, we are bullying our kids. We need to listen to the fact that kids just like adults can get stressed out. At school, at home, in social settings, at a job. And stress results in behaviors that can be disruptive, annoying, and loud. They should be loud. They are broadcasting a message that a child needs help. Not medication to shut them up.

So stop the bullying. Listen to your kids. Hear them. Love and respect them the way they are right now. Create solutions that support their individuality and brilliance. Listen to their dreams. When we do that we fulfill our own.