As the new school year begins, more and more recognizable is the problem of bullying. While I suspect this has always occurred on some level, it seems as though over the years it has become more “sophisticated”, damaging and — in some cases — even deadly.
Whatever the results may or may not be for one individual victim, bullying is simply wrong. If you are a parent of a bullying victim, there are resources to help.
But, there’s also a person who can play a huge part, and this is the boy or girl who is neither the bully nor the bullied. He or she is able to attend school and focus on friendships, school work and, even the next school vacation.
If you’re the parent of this young person, how fortunate. So, if I may, let me suggest a terrific lesson for your son or daughter (or grandchildren) that will help them to become a real hero, feel good about themselves, and make a HUGE difference in the life of someone else.
I recently saw the following message on my great friend, Christie Ellis’ Facebook page:
This is a special request to all the kids returning to school as copied and pasted from a friend’s page, but I would like to point out…it’s more a special request to parents…I’ve had this conversation with my two every school year…and will have it again tonight.
Special request to all you kids returning to school:
If you see someone who is struggling to make friends or being bullied because he/she doesn’t have many friends or because they are shy or not as pretty or not dressed in the most “in” clothes — PLEASE step up. Say hi or at least smile at them in the hallway. You never know what that person might be facing outside of school. Your kindness might just make a BIG difference in someone’s life!
Extremely well said. So, have that talk with your child or children. Perhaps do a “role play” with them so they know what to do, what to say, and how to say it.
It will make a difference in the life of another, sure. And, it will make a huge difference in their life, as well.
Any other suggestions? Please feel free to share them here.
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What a phenomenal advise to give to the children as the get ready for the school year. I have a 5 year old getting ready to school this year as well and I definitely see incredible value in this message.
And as you rightly suggested, this message is more for we adults than it is for children since we got to lead our children by example. If we live what we teach our children, the world definitely will be a better place.
What an awesome way to spend our life giving kindness, bringing a smile to someone today and everyday. What an amazing example to set in front of our own children. Absolutely phenomenal idea!
I love this quote from Plato, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” and I think we all have a responsibility to be that way.
Thank you for this yet another incredible post!
This is great! Here in South Korea, bullying is a national problem. Kids are marked as outcasts and ignored by everyone. At the extreme, children have taken their own lives. It’s really very sad.
Parents are very focused on getting their kids to excel academically because it’s so competitive. As important as that may be, the real measure of their kids’ success, and their own as parents, will be in how well they positively impact the lives of others. What you’ve suggested would be a great starting point.
Thanks for sharing.
Carl: I’m so sorry to hear that. Very sad to know that is such a problem in South Korea. I hope that people will begin to take steps to make it a thing of the past as quickly as possible!
Kumar: Thank YOU. I appreciate everything you said. Indeed, it is all in the example. And, yes, Plato’s quote is awesome. (I never knew that Mickey Mouse’s dog was so smart) 🙂
GREAT topic Bob! Love your article. I know how much bullying can hurt, and I know how much ONE friend in all that can make a HUGE difference. I think you can give all the advice in the world, and you’ll run into it at some point. I got this story one day in my e-mail, that touched my soul, and I want to share it with you. Hope it will help 🙂
FRIENDS ARE ANGELS THAT HELP US FLY AGAIN WHEN WE HAVE FORGOTTEN HOW TO USE OUR OWN WINGS!
One day when I was walking home from school, I saw a boy from my class walking home too. It looked like he was carrying all of his books. I thought: “Why bring all his books home on a friday? Is he really going to study all weekend?” I had other plans for my weekend, and I went on.
When I left, I saw a lot of kids running towards him. They ran into him, and knocked the books out of his arms and pushed him to the ground. His glasses landed in the grass 3-4 meters away from him. He looked up and I saw this incredible sadness in his eyes.
I felt sorry for him and went over to help him as he was crawling around on the grass in search for his glasses, and I saw tears in his eyes. When I handed him his glasses I said: “These kids are idiots! They should get themselves a life!” He looked at me and said: “Hey – thank’s!” There was a huge smile on his face. It was one of those smiles, that showed really gratitude. I helped him pick up his books, and asked where he lived. It turned out he lived not far from me.
We talked all way home, and I helped him carry his books. He turned out to be a pretty cool guy, and we hanged out all weekend. The better I got to know him, the more I liked him, and so did my friends.
Through the next 3 years we became best friends.
We got to the termination of school, and my friend was doing the final speach. He was really good looking. He was one of those guys, that had learned to rest within himself. I could see he was a bit nervous about the speach, and I said to him: “Hey my friend – you are going to do really well!” He looked at me again with that same look of gratitude and smiled. “Thank’s!” he said.
He started his speach:
“School termination is that time you have to thank the persons, that helped you through the tough times. Your parents, your teachers, your brothers and sisters, maybe a coach, but most of all your friends. I am here to tell you all, that being a true friend to someone, is the best gift you can give. I want to tell you a story.”
I looked at my friend and could hardly believe it, as he told the story about the first day we met. He had planed to commit suicide that weekend. He told he had emptied his locker at school, so his mother would not have to do that later, and therefore carried it all home. Hee looked at me with this penetrating smile and said:
“Luckily I was saved. My friend saved me that day from doing the unmentionable”.
I heard the gasp from the audience, as this handsome, popular young man told us everything about the weakest moment of his life. I saw his parents look at me and smile that same smile of gratitude.
Not until that moment I understood the profoundity of this. Do not underestimate the effect of your actions. With a simple small gesture you can change a persons life. For the better or the worse.
We are all placed here in this world to influence eachother. Always look for the good in others.
Friends are Angels that help us to fly again, when we have forgotten how to use our own wings.
Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift. Show the people you know, that they have your friendship.
Lene: Thank you for taking time to share that story. While that story has made it’s way around the Internet and may or may not ever specifically happened, I have no doubt that it’s not far from the truth and has probably been very close to it in more than one situation. And, even if it was totally made up…there is a huge lesson in it! Thank you for sharing!
Bob! I know there is truth in this story, and that’s why it touched me so much. I’ve had such a friend when bullied most, that helped me get out on the other side 🙂 And true the message is to be there for one another! And if you want to be really good or successful in life – you will get bullied or rejected at some point. SO I think it’ll be a good point to learn how to use this negative attitude bullying is, to how they can use this positively.
Lot’s of hugs from Denmark 🙂
Lene: Excellent. I continue to be super proud of you, my friend…and favorite “Danish Pastry”!!!!!
GREAT post, Bob! Fantastic insights and suggestions about having discussions and role-play scenario with young people. You are a master at the power that discening speech can have.
Heather: Thank you. I appreciate that greatly!
Thank you so much Bob for sharing those words and I appreciate reading all the other comments. As adults we teach the children in our lives by example. It is our responsibility to show kindness and compassion to others so our children can follow our lead.
Christie: Thank you for your kind words, AND for being such a shining example. When you originally sent me that post, mentioning that you have that talk every year with your two girls, I could absolutely picture you providing them with that wise counsel. And, I know they have been able to positively influence the lives of other children as a result. Thank you for being an example we can all emulate!
awwww…thank you! you just brought a tear to my eye. I GREATLY appreciate you saying that.
I have worked with two amazing ladies who are doing truly life changing work in the field of bullying and relational aggression – Blair Wagner and Jane Balvanz, the co-founders of A Way Through http://www.AWayThrough.com and the Global Alliance for Preventing Relational Aggression (GAPRA) http://www.GAPRAconnect.com.
Their work and their materials are phenomenal. I highly encourage anyone who wants to actively do something positive in their communities and local schools to raise the awareness and proactively do something that will truly make a difference to check out both links provided here.
Julie: Thank you! Terrific resources. Thank you so much for sharing these with us. Greatly appreciated, and very Awesome!
Excellent! Christie, what an profoundly powerful tradition. Such a marvelous example of mentoring at home. You are teaching your girls to look for and reach for opportunities to be kind. Like others here, I know they will make a difference. Thank you for sharing this Bob! Love the idea of role playing. Wow. Practicing kindness. What if we all just did that.
Thank you so much Dondi! Today school started here in Phoenix and every year you hope your children build on what they were taught, help others in need and stand up for what is right. fingers crossed 🙂
I wish I could ‘like’ every single comment here. NO, I wish I could ‘love’ them all.
Came across a similar message recently – also school related, but at the other end of the educational path.
Because really, kindness can be its own reward, but only when we allow it to be.
Dondi: My pleasure. I love sharing that kind of information. I’m so grateful to Christie for sending it to me! (Team Effort) 🙂
Christie: I have no doubt when it comes to your little ones. You and Eddie do a terrific job of – as Dondi called it – “mentoring at home” and setting the great example!
Dixie: I just read his speech. POWERFUL! Thank you for sharing that!
Thank you so much Bob! I am very grateful to be part of this team 🙂
Christie: Thank YOU, my great friend!
Great post Bob. It’s also a great message for adults. Too often we attend events, see a person standing alone and walk right by. How hard is it to say hello?
Jim: Great point. Thank you!
Nice to see this perspective addressed. I posted about this on my page this week because I was that child. I was the kid who always worried about others who were picked on or ignored because they were different or less fortunate. I was that kid who brought those kids in the article home with me- in my head- and pondered their lives and wellbeing when I left school. It’s hard to be both of those children… the one less fortunate and the fortunate one who inadvertently assumes the anxiety and sadness of the other, internalizing that foreign struggle as if it were actually part of him/herself. I didn’t know what to do to REALLY help, so I just did what I could: offer the seat next to me, choose them for my team, share my lunch, help with a homework question, talk to them at recess, smile each time their eyes caught mine. I am also certain what I did wasn’t enough… kindness conveniently and selfishly skipped at times, pretending to not notice the effect a particular untaken action could have in a moment… not always doing what my heart told me I should. Part of who I was/am is attributable to DNA (I highly suggest the insightful read “Please Understand Me II” by David Keirsey), but equal to or possibly paramount to DNA was my upbringing. Teaching your child compassion could be the whole difference for another… difference in their day, difference in their attitude, difference in their perspective, their choices… maybe even their life. Don’t ever let your kids believe they are better than another person… teach them that their CIRCUMSTANCES are better and they are thus more fortunate… but never better, and never too high to reach down a hand to pull up the underdog by taking a stand for them. Don’t allow shrinking violets under your roof; teach your kids to stand by their convictions and always do what is right rather than what is popular. Teach them that KINDNESS IS POWER, and using their power will ALWAYS make them better people… better than they were before they just did what they did, but never better than another. Foster their innate propensity for good and yearn for accountability so that voice inside speaks louder than the crowd. Raise your children to be confident enough to be evolved to take the road less traveled. Believing you have the power to make a difference is where it begins and is instilled in a child by a parent. Raise awareness of those less fortunate in your child’s life and of opportunities for random acts of kindness by asking yours what he/she did to make a difference for someone today. Let them be proud as they tell you. Give them the confidence to be true to their heart by rewarding them with praise for acts of kindness. It’s not easy to be the kid who follows her heart versus the crowd… it’s up to us as parents to ensure we are raising a person of that character. Hearing as an adult that your deeds were remembered by the other person is a priceless feeling; that’s not the point though, that’s just ego. The point is that you left a mark not easily measured. Our influence is a chain reaction that has no boundaries. We are molding our children to become whatever they will… please help them make their marks count. “We are the world…”
Juliette: Thank you for joining the conversation. There isn’t anything I can say about your comment other than that was absolutely beautiful. Thank you. And thank you for being the person you were and the person you are. I’m sure you were a hero for many of those kids back then and I’ll bet many of them still remember you with fondness and gratitude. You made them feel like the important person they were/are and touched their lives in a badly-needed, very positive way.