“Pull My Finger” Has a New Meaning

My nephew came home from school one day and asked, “why do Muslims blow themselves up?” Taken aback, his mother exclaimed a loud, “What?!” Her eight-year-old proceeded to relay the joke d’jour circulating on the playground….
My nephew came home from school one day and asked, “why do Muslims blow themselves up?” Taken aback, his mother exclaimed a loud, “What?!” Her eight-year-old proceeded to relay the joke d’jour circulating on the playground:

Schoolchild A: “My name is Akkkhhhmad, pull my finger!”
Schoolchild B: (Pulls finger.)
Schoolchild A: “Kaboom!” (Pretends to blow up.)

We went to the same public schools as our little ones and seemingly faired better experiences. The worst I got was a “Ghandi loves you!” followed by a finger flick to my forehead (I suppose that was my ‘bindi’ being stamped on). How does this make sense? This is not how it’s supposed to be. We were the culturally confused children of immigrants with funny accents. Our second generation children were to have the advantages of having us as their parents. But, alas, we were the Western school children of the pre – 9/11 era.

Although that wasn’t the first or last time my nephew bore the brunt of hurtful jokes, I do understand that it could be much worse. I would much rather be a member of a hated group in today’s far more civilized time and part of the world than in any other place or time. After all, we are not being scuttled off to internment camps or badged with yellow stars.

But, can’t we do better? I think we can.

I have hope that with schools and media taking aggressive steps to educate the public and raise awareness about bullying that we will begin to see fewer and fewer instances of bullying.

October is the National Anti-Bullying Month. Bullying affects people of all backgrounds and is a problem in schools, workplaces, and online. From the rotund kindergartener on the playground, to the hijab-wearing middle schooler, to the homosexual college student, bullying is a problem that affects us all.

According to BullyingStatistics.org, 77 percent of students have been the victim of some form of bullying with twice as many males as the victim of physical assaults than females.

According to an i-Safe America survey, 42 percent of children and teens have been bullied online. More than half of whom admit to never telling an adult when they’ve been bullied. Establishing open communication amongst children, parents, and teachers is key. Researchers note that one significant way of lowering the number of bullying incidents is by children telling a trusted adult when it is happening.

StopBullying.gov offers suggestions on how to handle bullying. If a teacher is not keeping your child safe from bullying, get in touch with the school principal or superintendent. If the school fails to keep your child safe, contact the State School Department. Should someone feel stressed, sick or unable to sleep due to bullying, get in touch with a health professional or counselor. When a child or adult feels suicidal because of bullying, contact the suicide prevention hotline at 1-800-273-TALK. For those being bullied at school due to disability, race, religion, or ethnicity contact the United States Department of Education Office on Civil Rights.

Leave a Reply