The NBA Takes On Bullying

Bullying awareness initiatives reach their peak around this time in the fall, when most children are just getting back into the swing of things and no longer darting down halls trying to figure out which door leads to their homeroom. Bullying Awareness Month took place this past October, and Ontario’s own upcoming Bullying Awareness and Prevention Week is slated for Nov. 17-23. However, it’s easy to forget that these periods of reflection are based on real incidents that occur daily on and off school grounds, when kids relentlessly tease and put down their peers, at times unknowing (or uncaring) of the consequences.
Verbal and physical bullying can take a terrible toll on the self-esteem and health of young minds, as the most horrifying reported cases can often prove. One of the most sobering instances of bullying gone too far recently reached a tragic conclusion with the suicide death of an innocent teen-aged girl. We talked to five NBA players for their takes on what can be done about the bullying epidemic.
Read the full interviews below the video.
BALLnROLL: October was Bully Awareness Month. In September, 12-year-old Rebecca Sedwick committed suicide after being bullied relentlessly. What are your thoughts?

Kenyon Martin: That’s very unfortunate that it’s gone that far, that a young teenage girl would actually take her life because people are picking on her. That’s sad. Very unfortunate. There’s no place in society for [bullying], but it goes on. So I think people, parents and teachers and other authourity figures should pay more attention to it, and take training to recognize what’s going on.

Metta World Peace: I think the parents just need to teach bully prevention. You have to help your child understand bullying symptoms. And once you understand what bullying symptoms are, a kid would be able to understand that she’s potentially causing harm to somebody else. A lot of bullies don’t understand it.

Tayshaun Prince: It’s something that we shouldn’t do as Americans. It’s a touchy subject to be talking about with children taking their lives over this, but that just lets us know, lets everybody know, what’s going on is everybody’s not doing their job, and something has to be done about it. We got to get to the drawing board and see what needs to get done.

Quincy Acy: I think bullying is stupid, why would you bully somebody? What do you need to bully somebody about, what makes you better than any other person? I mean, I have a kid, so I’m totally against it and think it should be stopped.

Raymond Felton: I don’t like bullies, despise ’em, can’t stand ’em. I really have nothing to say to them. Best thing I could tell kids who get bullied is just ignore them, don’t worry about it, tell somebody. That’s all you really do, there’s really no point in resorting to violence, just try to forget about, don’t even think about it. It’s a sad thing what happened with the young lady, some people mentally can’t take somebody picking on them all the time, always getting on their nerves, picking on them. Those who are bullies really need to change themselves and change their lives.

BnR: How much responsibility do parents have in this?

KM: You have to discipline your kids, you have to know your child, you have to know your children. You know what their personalities are, you’re around them more than anyone else, so you know if your child is a problem child, or you know if your child is more susceptible to [bullying]. It’s a part of society, but you have to understand that some children are evil, they just say and do whatever. To some people, it’s just fun and games, they don’t think there is any malice or ill intent because they’re just having fun, but some people take it to heart, and it’s unfortunate that little girl did take it to heart.

QA: My mother, she taught me growing up the golden rule—it’s treat others the way you want to be treated. And you know, I think that’s a significant thing you should teach your kids, because it stuck with me up until now, so I think it’s a very important thing you can teach.

RF: A big deal. I mean, you never know where a bully comes from. You can be some of the sweetest parents in the world, but the kid is just being rebellious, don’t what he wants to do, has an alter ego. There’s no excuse for it, I don’t care what household you grew up in, you shouldn’t go to school picking on nobody, trying to be a bully.

TP: It has a lot. If you look at the rates these days where kids growing up in single parent homes, homes without parents, boys homes, their grandparents—this stuff plays a big part. I was blessed to have both my parents growing up and to this day, just knowing the ins and outs of life, and how to grow up and how to be raised the right way. So, coming from me… it’s much easier for me to say. But there’s a lot of people out there that need guidance, a lot of guidance, and the ones out there that need guidance are from single parent families and don’t’ have their parents in their life, because this is the kind of stuff that happens.

BnR: The US is trying to implement legislation to hold parents or guardians accountable for bullying that goes on under their supervision. What are your thoughts?

KM: Not going to happen. Whether I agree with it or not, it starts at home and it starts with the whole you can’t discipline your kids or we’ll call protective services. But as far as passing a law, it’s going to be tough. Who knows.

RF: I mean, you can’t tell nobody how to raise your kids. You can’t make a law telling a parent to raise their kids a certain way, that’s not your job. That’s taking it too far. But at the same time, as a parent, you should raise your kids to not be that way, and to be respectful, and to treat adults and [kids] their own age the same way you want to be treated. That’s the same way I raised my sons. At the end of the day, not everybody is going to raise their kids the same way, so you can’t make a law that says if you don’t raise your child this way, or if you don’t do this in your household and something happens, you’re going to be reprimanded, you’re going to jail. I don’t think that’s fair. Sometimes, some parents, in some situations, can’t control what their child is going to do. Just because they do something, you get punished? I don’t think that’s not right.

QA: We could definitely use it, there’s a lot of violence, whether it be verbal or physical, and I think that’s great if it were implemented.

TP: If they see it under their watch? Yeah, that’s definitely something that you can take into consideration. But believe me, there are some hard, hard working parents out there that are doing the best they can, but their children are still not acting the way they should, so it’s kind of a gray area. But if there’s definitely some bullying going on, parents do know about it, they’re watching and if they notice it and don’t do nothing about it, I do agree that they should do something about that.

BnR: Do you have any stories from your childhood about being bullied, or any instances where you may have bullied someone?

KM: Oh yeah, I used to get picked on for stuttering a lot. I was a stutterer when I was a kid. Some people look on that as a form of bullying, and in a way I got past it. In the neighbourhood I grew up in, you took care of your own problems. You don’t look to anyone else. That’s what I did as a kid, I used to fight a lot because of it… but that’s not the way to go. That’s the way I dealt with it, that was my environment I grew up with, [and] it was no good where I grew up. That’s not the way we do at home—not promote violence among children by any stretch of the imagination. I have four kids myself, I tell them to reach out to me, or their mom, or a teacher so somebody knows what’s going on.

QA: I was the tall, skinny, wore glasses, I was in band, I was just like an awkward guy, didn’t have the best clothes, you know. So I used to get talked about, but nothing serious.

TP: I’ve never bullied nobody in my life, I’m not the type of person, not the type of guy. Have I had it happen to me? Yes, but it was something I ignored and just went about my business. I’m just not in tune with that, I’m just calling it ‘Hey, you don’t want to be my friend,’ and move on. Just wave at you. Now that I’m older and know what it’s about, I perceive it a different way.

MWP: I might have did some, you never know. I try to be cautious about my actions now, because even if you don’t know, you could say ‘Your shirt’s ugly,’ and that might not be nice at the time. You never know.

BnR: They’re telling kids to tell parents, teachers or guardians. What is your advice for kids who are being bullied?

TP: [It’s a bit of a] grey area, sometimes kids think if they do something about it, and nothing gets done, it will get worse. Kids think if they say something about it, they’ll lose friends. I think that’s why you see kids do what they do, because they might be afraid to tell, they think the consequences might get worse. That’s what I’m talking about the grey area, where it’s kind of depending on what the rules are and what you decide moving forward. There’s always positives and negatives to everything you decide on what you do. It’s just an unfortunate situation, and we have to figure out ways to make it better.

QA: Definitely go to an adult and say something, because it’s not right. Why would you think it’s right for someone to hurt someone’s feelings, or to hurt someone physically. Telling someone is the right thing to do.


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