Since the first grade, Nadia Ilse’s peers tormented her about her ears sticking out. During a four-hour surgery, a surgeon pinned her ears back, performed work on her jawline, and fixed a deviated septum. The estimated $40,000 surgery was paid for by the Little Baby Face charity (learn more here).
While on the surface this donation may seem commendable, it’s alarming because it’s sending a message to kids that the way to stop being bullied is to get cosmetic surgery. In addition, it’s sending the message to bullies that rather than accept everyone for how they look, it’s OK to bully kids if they look different.
Source: CNN.com “Your Thoughts: Plastic Surgery for Bullied Kids,” July 30, 2012
What’s the solution?
Bullying comes, in large part, from an underlying lack of respect, for oneself and for others. It shows up in all the components of the bullying system. Kids who are overt, active bullies, as well as bullying followers, the kids who come under bullies’ influence as toxic supporters, are often trying to make or cement friendships in an inappropriate, toxic manner. These kids, desperately seeking others’ approval, require a remedial course in self-respect in order to move forward in life.
Targets can become targets for almost any reason – real or fabricated. Kids look for differences, any characteristic that they can use to “carve you out” from the crowd, to establish an “Us vs. Them” framework, which seems to justify the exclusion. If a child is notably different, he’s an easier target. And being a target can be devastating to self-respect.
We want kids to grow up to be adults who have internalized a healthy set of parameters for self-knowledge, self-discipline, and self-respect. That’s our ultimate goal as adult guides to kids. Kids (and adults) with a strong sense of self-respect don’t need to put others down. Kids who respect themselves don’t seek the friendship of bullies. They will not stand by and watch others being bullied, either.
Over time, and with enough vigilance, we can eliminate the need for plastic surgery in order for normal young girls who look a little different to stop being bullied – simply by helping our kids achieve healthy levels of self-respect.