Bullying always seems to be in the news — especially these days when those who would mercilessly taunt others have so many avenues to do so.
Usually, these stories start on school campuses or at parks or recreation centers — places where teenagers congregate in all our communities. Where teens gather, bullying often follows. It occurs in many forms, too. In fact, the most harmful bullying is often accomplished among teens hurling insults or racial and sexual epithets via social media. They sometimes have tragic endings — suicide is one horrifying outcome.
This week, though, brought a different twist on a national bullying story. It allegedly occurred among professional football players in a high-pressure workplace where taunting is seen as part of the larger game.
Jonathan Martin, a second-year offensive lineman, left the Miami Dolphins to deal with emotional issues apparently brought on by a tormentor who is also a teammate. Multiple sources have told media outlets that veteran offensive lineman Richie Incognito sent Martin text messages that were racist and threatening. Martin is biracial, and Incognito is white. Miami management suspended Incognito on Sunday night.
This sorry episode has called attention to the workplace culture of not just the Miami Dolphins locker room but of every team in professional football. A story posted online Wednesday by The Atlantic reported that Incognito was allegedly encouraged by the Miami coaching staff to “toughen up” his more timid teammate. Some contend that Incognito — whose checkered history includes charges of assault and being thrown off two college football teams — responded in the only way he knew how.
So, was bullying overlooked on the Miami team as something that’s historically a part of the sport and football team-building? Likely. Was it even encouraged? Perhaps. In the often brutal world of a violent team sport played by people earning millions of dollars, it’s easy to view it as far from a normal workplace situation. But does it make such actions right? No.
Once, bullying was considered a rite of passage for teens, too. Today, though, that’s hardly the case. States are enacting tougher penalties for acts considered to be bullying. That’s because the stakes have never been higher. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, youth who are bullied are more likely to be depressed, think about suicide and actually attempt suicide.
One case has drawn national attention. Two Florida teens are facing felony aggravated stalking charges for bullying a 12-year-old classmate who committed suicide after receiving text or online messages telling her to kill herself or “drink bleach and die.” Investigators said the bullying crossed the line from teen meanness into criminal harassment.
Experts agree that to stem bullying, the social climate has to change. Bullying has to be under a microscope and seen as intolerable.
We believe all schools should take on this responsibility and pass it to their students. And the same should be true of workplaces — even in the fraternity known as the NFL.
Republished from the Jacksonville Daily News; distributed by creators.com.