This past weekend, Grizzly staff members were alerted to a possible bullying incident at Big Bear Middle School. As long as we have collectively lived here, raised children here, have friends and family with children in Big Bear schools, we knew this was something that needed addressing.

Bullying isn’t new, and it’s not new in Big Bear. Seminars, guest speakers, training sessions and programs have been going on in the Valley for years. Soroptimist International of Big Bear Valley’s Man About Town event a number of years ago raised funds for the Stop Teen Violence campaign. And that’s just one of many organizations that have supported the cause to create a bully-free zone in Big Bear.

Bullies are everywhere, and kids have been bullied on playgrounds for decades. As a society, we didn’t always know what to call it or how to handle it. Some generations were taught to fight their own battles. Others were taught to stand up and fight back. Others were taught to walk away. Others to use humor or special words.

Is there a right or wrong method? Is one better than the other? It’s hard to say, especially when the world is full of bullies in all walks of life. It’s not just the David and Goliath’s of the playground. It’s a situation that occurs in the boardroom, on athletic fields and certainly in the political arena. And today’s kids ­— and adults — also have to deal with cyberbullies.

One has to wonder if the violence cropping up as domestic terrorism has roots in bullying somewhere for these perpetrators.

So how do we help the current generation of kids to navigate the world when bullying seems to be a way of life? First, we have to say no. We have to be willing to stand up and fight for what’s right. We have to teach our children to stand up and say no. And we need to find a way to give those who are doing the bullying better options for finding their place in the world than verbal and physical abuse.

The Grizzly is beginning a series called Bully No More in this week’s issue. We will delve into the crisis of bullies in our schools and how to create a bully-free Big Bear.

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