Last week Jonathan Martin, an offensive lineman for the Miami Dolphins, unexpectedly left his team. It appears that Martin was being bullied by one of his teammates, Richie Incognito. Transcripts of texts and voicemails left for Martin by Incognito contain a number of racial slurs and profanities. The messages also contain violent and threatening language.
Professional football players are so huge that it’s almost impossible to think any of them could get bullied. However, when faced with racial slurs, profane language and physical threats, anybody would crack.
People may want to respond to this story and other stories about bullying with indifference. A lot of us experienced bullying when we were younger and persevered through it. We wonder why kids today or even someone like Martin can’t just take the abuse and move forward.
Bullying today, though, is much different from how it was a few years ago. I was bullied as a kid but it only happened at school. My tormentors had no way of contacting me when we weren’t on campus. So even though my bullies made school a living hell, I was able to find safety and respite everywhere else with my family and friends.
However, social media and new technologies have eliminated the safety found at home. I can’t imagine what I would have done if my bullies had the ability to tease, mock and threaten me outside of school. Like Jonathan Martin, I may have cracked under the pressure.
Bullying is awful. If we have kids then we should train them up not to be bullies. If we work with kids then we should provide a safe place for them. In our new world it’s not just going to be the nerds and geeks getting bullied. And we all have a responsibility, whether we’re a nerd or jock, to stand up for those who can’t stand up for themselves.
How did you respond to bullying when you were younger?