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It seems like every time I turn on the news I see another story about children bullying others or getting bullied themselves. I am sure most of us have heard about Karen Klein, the bus monitor who was bullied by a group of kids. I even caught a glimpse of Matt Lauer interviewing her and remember thinking how upset he was because at that moment he was a furious parent, not a reporter. Watching the video of this woman being utterly harassed by a group of youngsters was horrifying. I was struck by the fact that individually these are probably decent children, but in a group it seemed none of them could remember what I am hopeful their parents taught them at some point, which is to respect others and that bullying is wrong and will not be tolerated ever.
I have definitely had my share of being bullied as a child. I remember the middle school bully who everyday would torment me and my friends; she knew she was the school bully and it didn’t seem to bother her at all. In fact, she seemed to wear that title proudly. Thankfully, her wrath towards me and my friends didn’t last for long, but I do remember the mean things she’d say and obviously now as an adult I realize she just had her own issues and preyed on others to make herself feel better.
I know I can’t protect my children from everything, but I really hope that they never experience being bullied, and I certainly hope they never bully anyone. Yes I know, I am living in lala land, but I would prefer it to our reality, which is youngsters tormenting others or those being tortured so badly they rather take their own lives than show their face in school. How do we stop this? How do we put an end to bullying? How can parents and schools work together to end what seems like an epidemic in our society? Obviously, nobody wants to raise a bully or the child that is constantly getting picked on. It needs to stop. I can’t even imagine the day my babies come home from school and tell me they were teased, it will break my heart and I truly DO NOT believe that it makes you stronger and I can’t stand when people say that either. That to me is something you say when you have no clue how to address the situation. Thankfully, when I was growing up there wasn’t cyber bullying, but nowadays kids no longer feel safe in their own homes.
I think the end to bullying starts at home. We need to be extremely careful with what we say in front of our children. I am certain we are all guilty of not always taking kindly about neighbors, friends, or family members, but I think in front of our children we must model respect and if we want to gossip make certain little ears are not around to hear it.
Educating children at a young age about feelings is extremely valuable. So many of us talk to our children about problems as they arise, but maybe we need to address situations preemptively. I sometimes create scenarios with my daughter and ask how she’d handle it. I also think creating puppet shows and finding books on the topic are important too. One of the books that I think is amazing for young children is the book called, “One” by Kathryn Otoshi. If you don’t have it on your bookshelf please order it now! And NO, I do not know the author, but I think the message speaks volumes.
I worry if perhaps our schools are not doing enough to handle the problem of bullying. We are so concerned with reading and math scores. Of course I want my children to do well in school, but my main priority is to raise children who are kind and confident because that goes a very long way in life. As adults, I think many of us realize that nobody is that impressed with your SAT scores! In fact, I don’t even remember the last time my SAT scores came up in a conversation – thankfully, because let’s just say they weren’t exactly stellar.
Our website is about helping to “teach, share, and inspire” young children. Let’s work together to teach our youngsters how to treat others, share ways to problem solve, and inspire them to be their own person.
Rebecca Schleifer July 11, 2012