I finally broke down and watched the film "Bully" this weekend. I don't really know why I waited so long. I think I was anxious about what I would see. What I did see made my heart very heavy and sad. As a mother I was sad because I see my son now and what an amazing little person he is, and I hope that the world will see that as he grows older. I want the best for my son, and that includes him being happy in all aspects of his life. As an educator I was sad because I know that teachers are limited in what they can do, but we need to do so much more with what is within our limits, and that includes not being one of the bullies -- that is an abuse of power and respect.
There are a few things that I do with the children at work -- ages 3 to 5 -- that I strongly believe are some of the building blocks to prevent bullying. The first is that I have the children stick-up for themselves. If someone is bothering them or hurting them, I teach them to use their words and tell that person to leave them alone, or to stop hitting them, or whatever it may be. Secondly, I tell the other children that see it happen to stand-up for the person that is being bothered or hurt, and tell the other child to stop what they are doing. The last thing I do is I don't force the child that is doing the hurting to say sorry. Children at that age do not understand what the word means, nor do they mean it when they say it. Instead I ask how they think that person feels, and what they think they could do to make the other person feel better. It is my hope that these three things will help the children make a better world for themselves, and for others.
It scares me to see the kinds of things that children are capable of doing to others. How cruel they can be to someone else just because they dress differently, or wear glasses, or don't have a lot of money. To me, it says something about us as parents because our children are a reflection of us, and what we say and think about other people is adopted by them and taken to the next level. I am constantly catching myself saying rude things about others, and I know I have to keep that in check because I don't want my son to be like me. I want him to be better than me. I want him to be more considerate towards others, to stand-up for himself and others, and to care about others. It is my job to build the foundation of a fair, honest, and caring human being. It is the job of no one else but me and my husband. Of course there are other people in his life that will reinforce these qualities, but if we do not do the work that is required to build the foundation, it will take a lot of hard work for our son to build it on his own. What is the point of trying to make the world better, if we do not raise better people to be a part of it.