Parents Turning to Plastic Surgery to Stop Bully Taunts
"There's only one person in the whole world like you, and that's you, yourself," he would say at the end of his show. "And people can love you just the way you ... wait a minute. What's with the ears? Geez, Louise, you could fly to Paris with those things. What are you, some kind of freak? Tell Mommy and Daddy you need plastic surgery -- now!"
That's not what Mister Rogers said, of course, but it's what his 21st century equivalent might utter in an age where acceptance is less about demanding respect and more about demanding surgery.
"Children, long the victims of cruel nicknames like 'Dumbo' or 'Mickey Mouse,' are the most likely candidates for otoplasty (ear surgery), but this surgery can be performed at any age after the ears have reached full size, usually around 5 to 6 years of age," reports the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. "Even if the ears are only mildly distorted, the condition can lead to self-consciousness and poor adaptation to school."
And you wouldn't want your child to look even slightly different, would you? Boosting the child's self esteem and providing him or her with emotional coping skills also works, but a knife is quicker.
Being bullied for being different is traumatizing. To spare their children that fate, more and more parents are letting their children know Mommy and Daddy think they are disfigured mutants in need of corrective surgery. That ought to keep the kids out of therapy later in life.
ABC News statistics from the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery indicate cosmetic surgery for children and teenagers has increased nearly 30 percent over the last decade.
Valerie Donoghue, a mother of a son with large ears, tells ABC News the surgery is worth it. Kids who are bullied often become depressed and aggressive.
"If we had gone much longer, we might have started to see some of those other behaviors," Donoghue tells the network. "Bullying is very different now with Facebook and sites like that. I didn't want him to go through that."
Changing a child's appearance is not the solution, Cheryl Rode, director of clinical operations at the San Diego Center for Children, tells ABC News.
"We never want to hold the victim responsible for the bullying."
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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.