I know school is back in session for many kids across the country and if it hasn’t started they’re due to start soon. For many that means seeing old friends, making new ones, and the nerves and excitement of starting a new year in a new class or school. Some may not experience those same feelings of excitement and might actually dread going to school. For them, school isn’t a place they want to go and countdown the seconds until they can leave. Bullying is a major problem kids face at school that makes them feel scared, unprotected, singled out, unwanted and a myriad of other emotions and thoughts. No parent wants their child to feel this way.
When my daughter was in kindergarten, I went to an anti-bullying presentation at her K-6 school. I was hoping to receive information on the environment we could create to minimize bullying, foster a feeling of anti-bullying in the school, and take a positive proactive approach to addressing it. Instead, the presentation focused on understanding bullying and the bullies themselves, why people become bullies, and how to notice signs of bullying in your children. While the information was important, I left feeling very defeated; it offered treatments for side effects but not a solution to the root cause. It was as if there was no choice but to accept that kids would be bullies and just look for the signs of my child either being a bully or being bullied. I think over the years bullying has been identified and measures have been taken but it’s not enough to keep up with the ever changing dynamic of the world we live in.
In a world that focuses on drama, reality shows promoting degrading and nasty behavior, the news dishing negative story after negative story highlighting the most heinous atrocious stories to increase viewership; it’s no wonder why bullying is such a problem today. The more negative a situation is, the more attention it garners. If adults have a hard time redirecting their attention from something negative, how can we expect kids to do a better job in a real life situation? Photos and videos shaming, teasing, and being purposely hurtful to others goes viral generating likes and comments in astronomical numbers meanwhile something sweet and wholesome pales in comparison. Kids are often exposed to gossip, crude jokes, sarcastic backhanded compliments, and snarky putdowns both online and in everyday life. How then, can we expect our kids and young people to do better when presented with the opportunity?
I’d love to see examples of schools that focus on kindness. A place that celebrates the good, kind, and thoughtful things students and teachers do for one another. A place that focuses on promoting and celebrating kindness instead of one that is on the defensive side of bullying. A school that makes bullying feel out of place and uncomfortable because hurtful actions and words aren’t accepted, tolerated, encouraged or supported. A place that seeks to build each other up, looks to compliment, encourage and celebrate their peers and advisors. What if schools focused on promoting a sense of community, partnership, and kindness in addition to teaching curriculum? This isn’t to say there aren’t schools out there already doing this, I came across an example on social media just the other day. What I’m asking is, what if this were the norm?
What are your thoughts on this post? Has your child been bullied at school? Do you think your child’s school has a defensive approach to bullying? Does your child’s school actively foster a focus on kindness? Do you think it would make a difference if schools focused on kindness? How would you feel about your child attending a school that focused on kindness? What other approaches do you think would be helpful for schools to take to minimize bullying? I’d love to hear your thoughts and stories, please feel free to share in the comments!