Today's post addresses a serious topic and I wanted to share with you the ways I have addressed this issue with children as young as 8 years old. I have a belief. I believe serious subjects are never discussed once, then left on a shelf. I believe serious topics have stages of entrance into our minds, and that those ideas should start to be discussed when our children are young. Whether it's talking about the birds and the bees, drugs, smoking, or even bullying, with our kids, it's an ongoing discussion that elevates in detail at each turn. If we talk with our kids about the effects of bullying, what bullying is, and ways to react when confronted with situations, perhaps we can stop bullying in its path. And the sooner our kids are armed with defenses, the more likely we are to nip this issue in the bud.
Bullying doesn't belong to the middle schoolers. It doesn't matter the age, young or adult. As long as there is jealousy, envy, desire for power, and people feeling bad about themselves, there will, forever, be bullying. It's an equal opportunity demon that affects each of us at least once in our lifetime. Learning about the why's and what's of bullying is a spark to igniting prevention and, at the very least, provides our kids tools to put out the flames when a flare-up occurs.
Books open doors to children and give them a voice to express their own feelings through literary characters. This is especially important for boys, when discussing feelings is probably not at the top of their skill level. To help feed this idea, I began an after-school book club at my son's old school when he was in 2nd grade. It was such a success, I continued it through his 3rd grade year. I stumbled on a book that I thought we should read and the outcomes of those book club discussions helped build a supplemental workshop I called Free to Be Me regarding the topic of bullying. The book, Shredderman Secret Identity by Wendelin Van Draanen, is such a great book to have elementary school-aged children read. And through discussion, much is revealed when these young minds open up to their own bullying experiences.
Synopsis: When the class nerd becomes a SuperHero against the class bully, things get complicated. This book conveys the slippery path of morality and goodness when fighting for the rights of nerds while taking away the rights of bullies. Interesting question when faced against the context of brain over brawn. If the bullied turns around and bullies the bully through cyberspace, is it right? Both sides need to be examined.
When the kids and I met to discuss this book, the conversations took a most disturbing turn. Their shared experiences with bullying were surprising to say the least (did I mention these were 3rd graders?) and it prompted my initiative to create an anti-bullying workshop for the kids.
I'd be more than happy to share my book discussion questions, workshop agenda and activities with anyone interested in conducting a similar discussion with children. Just e-mail me and I'll send you all I have created. Find my e-mail info to the left under Profile.
Here's a trailer to the recent, controversial movie regarding bullying today. I hope you support its message and purpose. I implore you to take a stand and protect our future for it rests in the hearts of our children.
I was selected for this sponsorship by the Clever Girls Collective. Find showings in your area for The Bully Project and buy tickets here.