Daytime television longest running drama ABC’s General Hospital is touching on an important subject: School Bullying.
School bullying is a type of bullying that occurs in any educational setting. For an act to be considered bullying it must meet certain criteria. This includes hostile intent, imbalance of power, repetition, distress, and provocation. Bullying can have a wide spectrum of effects on a student including anger, depression, stress and suicide. Additionally, the bully can develop different social disorders or have a higher chance of engaging in criminal activity. (Wikipedia).
On General Hospital, third grader Aiden Webber (Jason David) has become withdrawn, preferring to keep to himself and doesn’t want to go to school. And when he draws pictures for his future step father Franco (Roger Hogwarth), he depicts himself on the outside and smaller than his classmates. His teacher Willow Tait (Katelyn MacMullen) contacts Aiden’s mother Elizabeth (Rebecca Herbst) and informs her Aiden is being bullied by another classmate. School policy prohibits Ms. Tait from revealing the name of the student doing the bullying but viewers quickly learn it is Charlotte Cassadine (Scarlett Fernandez), Aiden’s own cousin!
Ms. Tait encourages Charlotte’s parents Lulu and Valentin (James Patrick Stuart) to speak with the little girl about her behavior, stressing that if Charlotte’s behavior doesn’t improve, the administration will have to consider whether the school is the right fit for her. Nina (Michelle Stafford), Charlotte’s step mother becomes defensive, immediately accusing the teacher of picking on Charlotte and not realizing how special her step daughter is.
When Lulu, Nina and Valentin sit down with Charlotte to discuss what’s been happening at school, while Charlotte’s parents try to teach her to respect the feelings of the other children, Nina misses the point taking the view that Charlotte is the one being attacked. Ms. Reeves practically praises her step daughter’s actions calling her special; her words to Charlotte basically hint at the fact her belief Charlotte is better than everyone else. This is a wrong approaches to take as a parent addressing the issue of their child bullying another child at school.
Here’s how Lulu and Valentin handled the situation instead:
As a parent, it’s important to not only tell your child what they did is wrong, but to make them understand why. Saying you’re sorry only works if you realize what you have to be sorry for. The moment a child does something wrong, the first thing a parent encourages is to “Say you’re sorry.” Sure, apologizing is important but unless there’s a feeling of regret for your actions and an understanding of why someone was hurt by them, “I’m sorry” are just empty and meaningless words. Sadly I think in the world today, too many words are said that lack the emotion behind them. Rather people say them because they think it is what they’re suppose to say.
Lulu and Valentin stressed to Charlotte that no one has a right to judge someone else for what they like and being who they are. The entire scene deserves kudos for conveying the right way parents should speak with their children on bullying.
Actors Emme Rylan (Lulu), James Patrick Stuart (Valentin) and Michelle Stafford (Nina) are all excellent playing their characters in the school bullying story. Their love and concern for Charlotte was obvious even though the way they approached the issue was different. Handling school bullying is never easy as there are always underlying reasons behind the bullying. Anger, power and the desire for popularity are all key factors. And unless the bullying is addressed properly, the ramifications for both the person doing the bullying and the person bullied can be dire. Applause has to be given to child actors Scarlett Fernandez and Jason David as Charlotte and Aiden as well.
General Hospital is not only presenting an interesting story but doing a public service to viewers.