A mother whose blog originally only had eight followers is now an Internet sensation, thanks to one post where she expressed her exasperation about spoiled kids in the modern world. The 29-year-old mother, Stephanie Metz, urges parents and bullied children to “toughen up.”
It may have just been a personal rant intended for close friends, but in light of many recent teen suicides due to bullying, Stephanie Metz’s opinionated post has made quite a splash, and received both positive and negative responses. “My kids are NOT the center of my world, and that’s quite simply because they aren’t the center of any world, anywhere,” she wrote on her blog, The Metz Family.
The post, which was titled, “Why My Kids Are NOT The Center of My World,” was inspired by her 4-year-old son, Hendrix, who wanted to bring a toy action figure to Show and Tell, but decided against it because the figure was holding a drill that resembled a gun. Metz questioned why children were so over-sheltered by their parents: “The mentality of our society in 2013 is nauseating to me,” she wrote. Her post fired up a large response from parents who agreed with her when it came to disciplining her children, but awakened concern in others who believe the detriments of bullying should not be underestimated. Metz wrote:
"Many years ago, there was a time where young boys could run around with their toy guns, killing the bad guys … Today, those little boys — if caught doing that — are labeled as threats, and immediate action is taken to remove that threat from the group … There was a time when kids got called names and got picked on, and they brushed it off and worked through it (ask me how I know this). Now, if Sally calls Susie a [bad word] … Susie’s whole world crumbles around her, she contemplates suicide, and this society encourages her to feel like her world truly has ended, and she should feel entitled to a world-wide pity party."
She continued, “[My two boys] will, while understanding the need for caution, appreciate that not everyone out there is out to get them. Not everyone is out to do evil things.”
Bullying, however, may be more complicated — and psychologically damaging — than name-calling or stealing lunch money. Bullying is not usually a one-time occurrence, but rather a long build-up of psychological and emotional damage. The American Psychological Association lists cyberbullying and even office bullying as examples of “non-traditional” kinds of bullying. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), NICHD research has shown that cyberbullying — being bullied electronically, via the Internet or cell phone — causes a higher risk of depression in children and adolescents. The NIH also notes that a 2007 survey found that about one-third of all school-aged children have experienced bullying at school, and there were some 900,000 who had been cyberbullied.
“Bullying is not just a part of childhood, or some sort of a harmless activity between peers,” William Copeland of Duke University Medical Center told TIME. “This is actually something that has very detrimental, and very long lasting effects.”
Depending on how the bullied person handles the trauma, the lasting effects of bullying can stretch well into adulthood. Research has shown that people who were bullied in their early years are more likely to experience anxiety and panic attacks later on. “The intensity of the emotional pain bullying elicits, and the fact that other people underestimate how much hurt they feel makes being bullied an incredibly traumatic experience that can leave significant emotional scars,” psychologist Guy Winch told Time. "Some people are more resilient and tend to do some of these healing and curative things naturally," he continued, but noted that for some, healing themselves was a much more difficult thing to do, and instead they withdraw and isolate themselves. "[B]y doing so, they leave their psychological wounds untreated and increase their feelings of isolation. It is this latter group that is more likely to develop problems that are long lasting."
Recent suicides include that of a 15-year-old boy in Carterville, Illinois, who had been bullied at school, as well as that of Rebecca Sedwick, 12, who jumped off a building after being cyberbullied by two girls — one 12 years old and the other 14.
A commenter on ABC News wrote, “There has to be a middle ground somewhere! Sure, there are lots of kids who need to ‘toughen up’ — but there are also a lot of bullies whose parents need to get control of.”