By Sarah Masters
For most people, October is the month that marks the true beginning of fall, with pumpkin-flavored everything and Halloween quickly approaching. But October is also designated as Bullying Awareness month, and a recent news story highlighting that subject caught my attention.
Jennifer Livingston, a news anchor in Wisconsin, was sent an email attacking her. The author of the email was a viewer named Kenneth Krause. His message criticized Livingston, telling her that she was not a “suitable example” for female viewers because of her weight. This email was not only rude and inconsiderate, but a textbook example of bullying. The viewer admitted to rarely watching Livingston report the news, which indicates that he knew very little about her and judged her simply because of her weight. After viewing some of her other broadcasts, it is clear to me that Livingston is more than qualified for her position, and she presents the news in a concise and professional way. An attack like the one she received was not at all necessary.
Judging someone based on their appearance is demeaning, and taking it so far as to write them an email about it is even more humiliating. I know that here in Westborough, most elementary schools had some form of a Random Acts of Kindness program that recognized students for the good deeds they did throughout the week. At Mill Pond, the Keys to Success were implemented in an effort to continue positive actions among students, and the school is now a character model for others school. As we got older, those programs started to disappear, and now in the high school, it is our responsibility to continue being kind to one another. Krause, I assume, was taught those same qualities, and yet, despite knowing that compassion and respect for others is absolutely essential, he still decided to go online and berate a journalist because of how she looked.
If adults think that writing an email like that is acceptable, then I am worried about what other people think is okay. While I don’t think that bullying is a huge problem in our school, I do recognize that it exists. This story made me realize that there are still people in the world, and probably within the student body, that don’t think twice about bullying someone else. I’m asking the students here at school to think about the effect that their words and actions have on others. I know that we have all gone through the anti-bullying presentations and assemblies, but it truly is an important message. Bullying, in any form, is not okay. Jennifer Livingston’s story indicates that bullying is no longer a simple playground problem. It impacts people outside of the classroom and into their adult lives. Livingston was bullied via email at her job, and although as a journalist she is subjected to criticism, this took it too far. I was thrilled to see that Livingston handled the situation so calmly, and that she received such an enormous amount of support. The messages that she received through Facebook, comments, and other media outlets were more supportive than I expected.
What happened to Livingston has become an example of bullying in the “real world” that everyone needs to consider. Although she was hurt by the email, Livingston handled the situation well by drawing attention to it and appropriately addressing the topic in order to increase awareness for other people.
To see Jennifer Livingston’s on-air response to the email and an article with more details about the story, click here: http://www.news8000.com/news/Jennifer-Livingston-responds-to-viewer-letter-about-her-weight/-/326/16832410/-/3ilc2lz/-/index.html