A friend used the phrase ‘a culture of silence’ to refer to the normative standards of behavior, cultural beliefs, individual attitudes, social structures, and societal barriers that dissuade marginalized people from sharing their experience. Women keep quiet about sexual assault to avoid the blame and shame attached to speaking up. Transgendered people don’t discuss their gender identity out of fear, at best, of being labeled “freaks.” Poor people stay silent about their impoverished state so as to not be labeled a slacker, told they should just go find a job, or be pitied.
In contemplating all the times I swallow my words, I have begun to wonder what part of my silence is tact and what part subtle duress?
Then I came across a news clip about a student with developmental disabilities who was bullied by her teacher.
What shocked me was not that such events transpired for I know such situations are common. I was surprised that the parents went to such great lengths to prove their child was not lying. Educators relied upon the culture of silence to protect them, but it didn’t work. Thank goodness it didn’t work.