7-year-old Samantha Shaw of South Dakota underwent a plastic surgery procedure to avoid being bullied at school. The procedure (otoplasty) pinned back the girl’s ears so they wouldn’t be so prominent. Her mother supported the procedure because she didn’t want her child to suffer at the hands of other schoolchildren as a result of her appearance.
Giving a 7-year-old plastic surgery sounds like a bad idea, doesn’t it? But like any good story, there’s more to this than meets the eye.
It shouldn’t surprise anyone that children can be extremely cruel to their peers sometimes. We’ve all probably been at the receiving end of bullying at some point in our childhood, right? While we’re still young, being a victim of bullying can feel like the worst thing in the world. When we get older, however, we realize (hopefully) that it’s just another common experience that we can all learn from.
But what message does a parent send to her child (and other parents) when she opts to permanently change the child’s appearance because of bullying? That when the going gets tough, the tough get plastic surgery to conform with the rest of society?
And yet, when a bullied child resists his abuse–we are quick to scold his response just as sharply.
It seems the best method would be to teach children the middle route when it comes to dealing with bullies: don’t respond to violence with violence, but don’t take the bully’s message to the heart.
Perhaps the best approach would be for the rest of us to set the example for children. How we as adults respond to hostility and aggression from adversaries undoubtedly carries a profound impact in the message we send to our children.