It’s hard not to cry, or feel like you’ve been punched in the gut while watching the ten minutes of horrendous bullying and harassment that Upstate New York grandmother and school bus monitor was subjected to by a group of middle school students.
Most families have so many things in common: they share love, get into conflicts, face life’s daily routines, overcome challenges together, and take care of one another. Yet they are also unique and special in their own ways. As children grow up, they need to see, hear, and learn about people like themselves as well as learn about others who might be different from them.
Standing opposite of the library at Grimmer Elementary School, the Kindness Tree mural serves as a reminder to all those who see it to cultivate kindness. The fourth, fifth, and sixth graders at Grimmer Elementary School in Fremont, CA created the mural to represent the school and its diverse community. Collaborating with artist Brenda Pattee, the students designed the mural and chose the color scheme. Unique birds representing the students sit on the tree’s sprawling branches, surrounded by flowers with the word for “kindness” in different languages painted on them and banners written in English and Spanish. All the languages, including Farsi, Pashto, Portuguese, Laotian, Vietnamese, Urdu, Arabic, Tagalog, Chinese, and Hawaiian, come directly from the school’s community.
With daily news reports about the devastating impact on students who have been relentlessly bullied, teachers find themselves on the front line in addressing bullying and intolerance. It is time to move into action. Not In Our School offers solutions-based strategies and tools for change to a network of schools that are working to create safe, inclusive and accepting climates.
As an adult now, I have turned my experience into a positive one, if you can call it that. With the encouragement of my late mother I have written and had published two anti-bullying children’s books.
Pledge to stop bullying, hate, and violence today. Take the Pledge | Watch the PSA | Why Take the Pledge? | Share the Pledge Not On Our Ground, Not In Our Town
Tracy Maier attends an awards ceremony for daughter Hanna, as she receives the Upstander of the Week award from The Bully Project. Tracy Maier is a Pennsylvania mom who moved into action after her child was bullied. She contacted Not In Our School to help not only her daughter, but all the children in her area who have been bullied and asked for help in getting things started in her community. Since that time, we have been in touch as both Tracy and her daughter Hanna have become leaders, taking risks, speaking with civic leaders, and organizing campaigns—all things that they never had done before. It is an example of how anyone can step up. Photos of Tracy and her daughter’s activities are featured in the Not In Our School Parent Guide. —Becki Cohn-Vargas, Not In Our School Director Tell us about your school community.
By Micaela Presti A child is not born a bully. It is a learned behavior and adults need to make sure they are role modeling for the children of our communities the importance of respect, tolerance and empathy. In the book, Nurture Shock by Po Bronson and Ashlee Merriman, there is a chapter on race and tolerance. The authors point out that white parents, in particular, feel that because their child may live in a community that is racially diverse, their children accept the differences. Parents then don’t feel they need to talk about differences. Nothing could be further from the truth. We need to talk about differences because children do notice that someone’s skin, sexual preference, etc. is different from theirs and they need to understand why.
There are important lessons on both bullying and speaking up that are happening right in front of our eyes. Recently, leading anti-bullying expert Emily Brazelton shared the results of the bullying investigation for the Miami Dolphins, after the pro football team’s bullying scandal. It serves as a case study to help everyone understand tackle Jonathan Martin’s courage to speak up and open his personal struggles to the world, which will help all of us learn the terrible impact of bullying, hate, racist and homophobic teasing. After reading the article, watch this new film “Auto Body Shop Owner Repairs Hearts After Hate Attack.” It features Quality Auto Paint & Body owner Richard Henegar, who hears that a local college student is the victim of an anti-gay hate attack and decides to help. Not only does Richard repair Jordan Addison's vandalized car, he brings his entire community together. Talk show host Ellen DeGeneres featured the two men on her 10th season premiere. Richard is also honored by his alma mater, Lord Botetourt High School who highlighted how one person can make a difference.
By Dana Schuster We are all painfully aware that we live in a culture rife with judgment and bias, and a disturbing tendency to pit one group or viewpoint against another. While voices have recently been increasing in volume that say we must acknowledge and combat stigma and bullying, particularly among our youth, consider, if you will, the following scenarios.