I applaud the young people of our country standing up and using their voices to demand change. My concern: Bullying! About 4,600 young people die by suicide each year – and bullying is a major risk factor in suicidal behavior! What about those kids?

Let me provide some further perspective about bullying:

There are two (at least) kinds of bullying: active bullying and passive bullying. Active bullying is the in-your-face, visible, physically and/or verbally aggressive actions where anyone can see what’s happening. Passive bullying is basically social exclusion – the kids are acknowledging each other at school, but not socially. The child hasn’t been bullied yet, but that whole “anti-bullying” thing falls apart at the social events.

Schools fly that “We Are Against Bullying” flag – I’m glad that they do. However, if we don’t carry through with that as a society, regularly including all others socially and outside of school, then it’s just empty words.

Let’s find ways to help lonely children connect and stop bullying. We live in an incredibly critical society where everyone criticizes one another. Unfortunately, this is where the violence can begin. Yes, it takes extra effort to be friends and hang out with kids who are different from you. But guess what? It takes effort to be friends with anyone.

I write this is because so many of these school shootings are carried out by those who have been bullied. Think about standing up when you see someone being bullied. You could be someone’s reason not to pick up a gun in the first place.

Respect is the key to unity, and unity is the key to salvation.

Amy Madge