Nearly one in 5 youth have experienced some form of bullying. As a parent, listening as your child describes their own experience with it can make you feel angry, helpless to, as you try to navigate school policies and zero tolerance statements that seem great on paper.
Like most parents, my first instinct was to understand why people bully others, understand why they choose to hurt others in ways they have no right to do. I found myself doing so recently until I realized I was tapping into the master narrative of the bullying phenomenon. We all do, choosing narratives that forces us to surrender to the bully as if we are powerless in the situation.
Today, I say enough is enough. It is time to change the story and use this moment to teach everyone, my own children in particular to become brave. No use wasting anymore time on the bully. I’ll rather use this moment to teach how children can turn their inward light on in moments of darkness, in dark places too and through dark minds prepared to inflict pain. They can use these moments to become brave. For when being unkind reveals it’s real nature, crossing lines and spaces for their own self pleasure, that’s when to turn nurturing and protecting on. That’s when bravery truly needs to get up, stand up, and stir things up too. Bravery needs to equally fight to push darkness out. We are prepared to fight for light. The world needs more brave children, now more than ever. Children who know they are light and their power cannot be hidden. If I was to turn this into a teachable moment, like the image below, I would turn it from hate to love and begin like this:
What happens when you are bullied. It’s the day you become brave. Your eyes, your hair, your voice, your smile, even your looks may cause others to become mean. Yet, choose to be brave. Do you know that you don’t have to be mean? Choose to be kind. Do you know that you don’t have to say all the bad things they say to you? Choose instead to listen. Do you know that you don’t have to understand why? Choose to remember love. Do you know you have the power to turn this around? Choose to change the story. Rather that feeling sad, spread happiness. Rather that feeling angry, spread kindness. Even when they are mean to you, spread confidence. Even when they continue their behavior to you or anyone else, spread love. It’s a gift they probably never received from people that look like you. Until now. So choose to spread your light.
Be brave by standing up straight. Tilt your head up, and look them directly in the eye? Shout as loud as you can, ‘Enough?’ Then say ‘Don’t talk to me like that. I love myself and you should too.’ Turn around and walk away confidently. You are indeed loved. We can use this moment to teach about love, to spread it too, so the story change. What if nearly 1 in 5 youth have experienced some form of love, experienced being brave. That is a story worth telling, worth keeping too as we teach our children to become brave.