If you have read my blog you know that I often speak out passionately when it comes to bullying. Having a child who has been the victim of bullying has been what drives me to challenge other children and parents to chose kindness over everything else. With the school year fast approaching, and already in progress for many (we are a little bit slower up north) I have already heard horror stories of ridicule, shaming, exclusion, and sadness from many moms who have a child who is the victim of such senseless, petty, disgusting acts. Lunch table laughter, lunch table exclusion, whispers and giggles amongst the “popular”, name-calling, rumors, etc. This is NOT okay. This is not just “bad behavior.” This IS bullying in its most basic form; and if your child is participating in any of these behaviors then they ARE a bully. If you child is standing passively by and watching the events unfold in silence, then this too is equally unacceptable. Believe me, I get it… those who remain quiet do so because they don’t want to be on the receiving end of the bully’s wrath. It’s often easier to stand idly by then make waves and shift the focus onto yourself. However, these children are the ones who have the power to make a difference and become the change agents. It shows great strength of character to go against the grain, to speak up when faced with injustice, and to speak out against it. It takes courage to shift the focus and tell someone that their behavior against another person is not okay. It means “risking” taking that persons place and becoming the victim yourself. Yet, what if every single “follower” or causal bystander stood up in the face of the that one or few individuals who were seeking to spill their hatred. What if they spoke up and spoke out against the mean words or unkind behaviors they were witness to? What if?
I challenge all parents to find out what type of child you are raising. Ask the tough questions that seek to determine how your child behaves amongst his or her peers. Have the hard conversations that promote speaking out against bullying in any form. Children in general aren’t evil or bad. However, these seemingly ridiculous social hierarchies that exists (and has always existed) have become ever more dangerous in the era of social media and digital technology. Rumors, pictures, behaviors and actions are forever captured and spread like wild fire. In a matter of seconds reputations are ruined and kids lives are forever changed. Diligence and awareness has never been more crucial as a parent. What if more parents policed their kids social media accounts or didn’t allow their (pre-)teens to even have them? What if you as a parent actually knew what your child was posting, saying, and doing? Many parents are quite savvy when it comes to monitor their kids behaviors (and I commend you for that), but I can assure you that your kids are savvier. I mean, how often do we ask our kids for help when it comes to the digital world? My point is, you can never be too involved, ask too many questions, or have too many discussions with your children. What if we talked even more about kindness, inclusion, and validation of one another’s positive attributes? What if we shared more stories of how children were standing up for someone who had been singled out? left out? left alone?
What if we actually could put an end to bullying?
It starts with you and your child….
Chose kindness this school year…..