Tuesday, March 30, 2010

A Link On The Laurel Chain

March is National Women’s History month.

This is a recent honor for the month better known for its lion and lamb-like qualities.

I have spent some time assessing how to approach a posting about this honor to females. I considered everything from erudite musings to feminist debates to just plain snarkiness.

Then yesterday a headline caught my eye and I knew what I wanted - needed - to say.

In January, 15-year old Phoebe Prince, committed suicide allegedly as a result of vicious bullying by students at South Hadley High School in South Hadley, Massachusetts.

Up to the moment I read that headline, the name of that bucolic town in Western Massachusetts represented to me a community of female empowerment, intellectual enlightenment and all things good.

I attended Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, Massachusetts. Mount Holyoke is a women’s college and next door is Smith College, another bastion of female education. While the two institutions exhibit different personalities they share the same mission of creating a space for growth and leadership of women, for women.

To know that just down the road from my beautiful school, recently a young women was so lost from her own self-worth that she gave up, is heart wrenching. And to know that other young women played a part in destroying her self worth is even more disturbing.

Bullying has become an extreme issue in our schools. What was once a mild playground initiation has become a physical, sexual and mental torment that is resulting in an alarming pattern of teen suicides and hospitalizations. While states are stepping up and passing anti-bullying laws and schools are implementing bullying education, there are other factors impacting kids that encourage them to bully.

We can impact society’s youth. By our example, our vigilance, our ability to recognize another woman for the value that she is.

How lucky was I to spend four years in an environment that showed me what I could accomplish and prepared me for the slings and arrows of the world - to be immersed in a history of women leading, fighting, solving and inventing.

And down the road was South Hadley High School where young women were maybe not (I dare say probably not) getting that same message.

This is March, Women’s History Month. We would not have a history if there had not been women before us who linked arms with one another and said “You and I are worth it!”

So, what have I done to share this power with another young woman to continue the laurel chain?

Not nearly enough.

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