Goshen News, Goshen, IN

December 14, 2013

Battling bullying with blue pinkies

Goshen News

---- — The look is stylish, but it’s more than a fashion statement.

For a visual reference, check out the photo at the top of the page of Friday’s Goshen News. The picture shows Goshen Middle School seventh-grader Karla Rodriguez holding up her blue-painted pinky fingernails. Blue pinkies are catching on at GMS, and its a trend we’re happy to see.

According to the article by Goshen News staff writer Sherry Van Arsdall, students and staff at GMS have pledged to stand up against bullying at their school. They’re painting their pinkies blue to show their commitment to the cause.

The blue nails movement is part of a nationwide effort, one specifically targeting girl-on-girl bullying. GMS counselor Jan Desmarais-Morse said girls have taken a symbolic “pinky swear” that they will do their part not to bully and to speak up when someone is being abused.

“This is a way to encourage students to do the right thing,” Desmarais-Morse said. “I believe they have an inner desire to be kind, but they need encouragement to have courage to stand out and protect.”

We share Desmarais-Morse’s optimism about our young people. We’re also heartened by the blue pinky project, and any efforts underway in schools or elsewhere to curb bullying behavior.

A program targeted at girls is fine — as Desmarais-Morse told us, girl bullying takes on different forms than boy bullying. That said, the problem knows no gender or socioeconomic boundaries. It’s been a scourge of too many young people for too long.

Viewing bullying as a rite of passage is an outdated notion. Vicious, sustained abuse can leave lifelong emotional scars. And if bullying is such a builder of strength and character in the bullied, why not encourage it in our workplaces and churches?

As adults, we have a duty to protect the children in our community. That means open lines of communications, and learning the signs that a child is being abused.

It also means seeking help for bullies whose behavior is likely a sign of inner turmoil that needs to be addressed. We should also encourage young people to speak up the problem, and to be listening ears when their peers are in trouble.

In recent years, bullying has gained a higher profile. Educators, students and parents have a greater awareness of the problem, and the extent to which it can have a negative impact. This newspaper hopes that awareness continues to grow, and that more people take a stand against bullying.

Blue pinkies aren’t a bad way to start.