Today marked yet another first day of school for our kids. Four of our girls have graduated and two of our daughters returned to start their sophomore and junior years. As always, the night before was busy planning out lunches, packing backpacks and of course, picking the perfect outfit. Back to school is a bitter-sweet time for me. It is yet another reminder of how quickly time has flown and marks the end of laid back summer days. Yet, I am always ready for the return of routines and the crisp autumn air.
As I listened to my daughters talk about school, football games, new school clothes and their friends, I felt a familiar tug at my heart. Of course I want my kids to feel excited and happy upon their return but I cannot help but think about those kids that dread school. Sadly, there are kids that fear the first day of school and struggle to feel any excitement at all. For them, school is a breeding ground for anxiety and fear. School is not a warm and safe corner of the world but rather fills their days with sadness, isolation and stress. In short, bullying is a reality and for some kids, returning to school is not a happy time.
Parents want their children to be happy, confident, successful and safe. We want our kids to fit in, have friends and to feel good about themselves. But, what happens when a kid doesn’t fit in or steps outside of societies expectations and socially accepted norms? Sadly, bullying happens. Kids are picked on, singled out and ignored. Bullying in school is a big problem. Bullying exists and I can promise you it happens in your schools and sometimes in your own homes. Yet, we ignore it.
Like most things in life, it is easy to pretend something doesn’t exist unless it happens to one of our own kids. Ignorance is bliss right? I am not pointing fingers and if I am honest, I myself have been ignorant to some of the pain that kids deal with and face. It can be difficult to address a problem if we are unaware it exists in the first place. But it does exist. Bullying is real. There are kids that face bullying every day and instead of finding refuge at school, they are trying to survive in a war zone. Bullied kids feel alone and without often have no allies to stand up for them or to fight by their side.
It is critical that we as adults raise our own awareness and find empathy for those kids that fight this battle every day. We cannot challenge something or change it if we are unaware that it exists. I challenge each of you to think about the children that are often left behind. Think about the kids that:
- come home in tears because they don’t seem to fit in regardless of how hard they try
- don’t understand why they have no friends
- feel unloved and unwanted
- struggle to find acceptance and always feel like they are on the outside looking in
- feel picked on, teased and verbally abused by other kids at school
- become targets and are signaled out because of a vicious rumor someone chose to spread
- don’t have the “right” clothes, live in the “right” house or do the “right” things
- have different beliefs
- act a little different or have different interests
- are not a part of the “popular” crowd
There are no simple answers or quick fixes to what has become a big problem. With that being said, it is important that we pay attention and put an end to the ignorance that exists in our very own lives. Imagine what it might feel like if your child was coming home in tears. What would you do if your child dreaded going to school and was the target of cruel remarks and teasing? Think about the pain you might feel knowing that your child felt afraid or didn’t fit in.
It is hard to completely understand another’s pain without first walking in their shoes. Therefore, it is easy to ignore a problem when it does not have direct impact on our own lives. However, we are all human and everyone has the ability to empathize. In truth, I felt comfortable sending my kids out the door today. There were no fears or concerns that my girls would face any bullying today. But, I can still worry about other kids. I can empathize with those kids that are afraid and in all honesty, we are fools to believe that any one of us are completely immune. There are no guarantees that it won’t be one of my kids carrying a target on their backs tomorrow.
Bullying breaks my heart and it is NEVER OKAY. it is never okay to bully Regardless of how comfortable I am with sending my kids to school, I am well aware that some kids do not live happily ever after when they walk through the school doors. We CAN make a difference. There is tremendous power in standing together and fighting for what is right. Adults need to pay attention, listen and become aware. Make time for your kids and truly listen to what they have to say. Teach them kindness and remember, doing what is right begins at home. Do not tolerate bullying, judging or being mean EVER. We need to educate our children and ensure that they too fight against bullying and have the courage to stand up for what is right. I can promise you I have and will continue to have these conversations with my kids.
So, as your kids go back to school and settle into yet another year, take the time to sit down and talk with them. Remind your children that the road to success begins and ends with love, respect and kindness. Peer pressure often steers kids towards a path of hate and quite honestly, it will lead them nowhere. Parents need to take a stand and it is especially important if we expect our kids to do the same. end bullying tip 24
Find compassion in your heart for those kids that woke up today feeling dread and fear. Say a prayer for those that feel hurt, picked on and struggle to fit in. You have the power to build bridges of hope that can lead to change and our kids can do the same.
In closing, my wish is that all kids can feel safe, secure, happy and at peace when they go to school each day. We all need to feel loved, accepted and connected. Leave no child behind.
In Peace and With Much Love,