There’s something that has been weighing on me. I’ve reached the point that I have to put it out there. Bullying has undoubtedly become an epidemic. Everywhere you turn there are PSAs and news reports and social media accounts and organizations working to combat the problem of bullying in our schools.

Bullying has been blamed for low test scores, poor self esteem, and even suicides. It’s a legitimate problem with no simple answer. Mainstream media and ad campaigns do little to help the problem, because they promote the stereotypes that so much bullying is based off of. Something recently struck me, though, as I was scrolling through Facebook. Fingers can be pointed at today’s youth, and we can lecture them about bullying. The problem is adults are just as guilty.

Recent headlines about Kelly Clarkson made me sit up and take notice. People that are supposed to be leaders, professional news anchors and reporters that should be setting positive examples – staying neutral – are sharing their personal opinions and calling out Kelly about her weight gain. Some of those people have retracted their statements and even apologized, but it is still out there. That’s the thing with apologies; you can offer them but the damage is done.

I admire the way Kelly has handled the cruel words that have been unleashed on her. She’s taken the high road, and appears to be confident in her own skin. That’s the type of role model today’s youth need. I wonder, though, what kids are hearing more – Kelly’s self-assured image of herself or the critical views from so many others.

As adults we should be setting an example for kids on respect for one another. Instead so many adults are just as bad, if not worse, when it comes to bullying. How can we stand here and preach to our kids to not bully one another when we turn around and act the same way?

We need to take a closer look at bullying as a society. We need to take a closer look at ourselves. What are we saying? How are we reacting? Are we setting a good example for today’s youth? When it comes right down to it, if we want our kids to stop being bullies, we need to stop being bullies ourselves.