As reported by multiple sources over the course of Saturday, October 19, the real bully responsible in the death of Rebecca Sedwick is likely to be Vivian Vosburg. In a rather unsurprising twist, the stepmother of Guadalupe Shaw, 14, has been arrested charges of child abuse based on evidence found in a video posted to Facebook. In many bullying cases, the real source of the bullying behaviors turns out to be a parent or stepparent.
In the video, as seen on Youtube, CNN, ABC and other news sources, there are others involved in the beating of the two boys. This is a good example of how the nurture of a child can lead to behaviors lie those witnessed in Ms. Shaw. The vast majority of children are not born sociopaths, they are taught to behave in that manner. In most cases the source of their “training” is a parent or stepparent. It is not unusual for an investigator of a bullying incident to discover similar behaviors in the adults in that child’s life. This does not mean that the adult is doing something terrible, but that they may be providing an example that has spiraled out of control. Children will try to emulate the important adults in their lives. When a child observes a particular behavior, manner of speaking, or way of dealing with anger and other strong emotions, they will translate that into their terms. This doesn’t always turn out well, the child may not understand the reasons behind the behavior or may exaggerate the behavior.
In this particular case it appears that Ms. Shaw may be acting out in ways she has witnessed her mother acting. Foul language directed towards another person, laughing and enjoying the torment and even physical abuse of another and mental and emotional abuse appear to be a regular way of life in the Vosburg home. It should not be surprising that Ms. Shaw would see nothing wrong with posting statements wishing another person dead to Facebook. “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree,” Judd said, according to ABC News.
While this is an extreme example, it does point out that we, as adults and parents, must take care to demonstrate a better way to behave towards others. Our example is seen and heard. The way we treat others is copied and often amplified by our children. If we wish to turn the tide of destruction being caused by bullying today we need to ensure we are providing a better example. Mass media and pop culture is much more violent and self-centered than it has ever been, we as living examples to our children need to show them a different and better example of how to care for others. If we wish to end the destruction being done by bullying and cyber-bullying it starts with our own behavior towards each other.