When people say the media receive too much blame for the behavior of society’s younger generation, maybe that’s because, far too often, they do play too significant a role in what’s happening with America’s increasingly violent youth.
Put aside for a moment the programs that immediately come to mind at the phrase “mean girl” – “The Bad Girls Club,” “America’s Next Top Model,” “The Real World,” “Bridezillas” – because we have otherwise respectable programs to be concerned with.
NBC photo of Phoebe Prince
In a Today Show episode airing Tuesday, March 30, Ann Curry discussed the tragic loss of Phoebe Prince, whose suicide is said to follow relentless bullying by her classmates. Legal expert Dan Abrams and bullying expert Dr. Susan Lipkin focused on the need for parents, other students, and school faculty to intervene when bullying is suspected. To stop the bullies.
Within an hour, however, a new story aired, this one exploring teen plastic surgery, and using as one example a girl whose mother approved her nose job because she was being made fun of in school.
Dr. Nancy Sneiderman called it an appropriate use of plastic surgery.
The message: “If your child is being made fun of by a bunch of bullies, change the child. Let the bullies decide what your child should look like.”
Not once during the plastic surgery segment was it recommended that the parent visit the school to deal with the bullying issue, even though this story almost immediately followed that of the Phoebe Prince tragedy.
In a society already too content to not “get involved” in volatile and uncomfortable situations – such as addressing bullying and the school systems that are equally disinclined to step in – endorsing such passive behavior can only lead to an escalation in bully confidence, and that’s one thing our country’s children don’t need.
Kristen J. Tsetsi is the author of the novels "Pretty Much True..." and "The Year of Dan Palace" and the short fiction collection "20 Short Stories," all published under the name Chris Jane. Website: http://kristenjtsetsi.com