Very early yesterday morning, my six year old came into my room excited to share something with me.
"A special presentation called Stop Bullying Speak Up is on Cartoon Network today at 4:30."
My boy had already experienced some teasing at Chess Club earlier this year. A combination of his interest and my fear of the topic caused my response.
"That is important. Let's plan to watch it together today."
I was bullied and I bullied other kids. For me it was a defense mechanism, although not an excuse. Bullying when I was young was far from the extreme and horrific behaviors seen and heard about today, but regardless painful especially as an immature child.
Out of the blue one summer at camp, an older girl decided to befriend my group of girls and convince them all not to like me. Worse, I felt them staring and laughing at me; an uneven power struggle. It hurt, I felt shameful and I didn't deserve it.
I never knew anyone personally that was affected to the point of physically ending their lives because of bullying. But, it does happen, way too often just ask the families of Brian Franklish, Debbie Shaw, Roger Hillyard, Darren Steele and the disgustingly long list other kids that have ended their lives from bullying.
My mini me is young, but who says what happened to me, or worse, can't happen to him. Being kind and accepting everyone should be a fundamental value and obvious, but is it to Kindergarteners?
Are mean kids ones that see their parents being mean to other adults? Sadly bullying doesn't stop when we grow up. I'm hoping my example is enough.
The time came and my son and I sat down together to watch the special. President Obama opened by telling us that this topic is important to him as the President and a Dad. The kids featured were older than my child, yet I sensed he could relate to them.
Afterwards we talked about the special. My boy promised me he would tell me if another kid bullied him or if he made fun of anyone.
I'm hoping the level of communication has been opened and he knows words do hurt.
For more information go StopBullyingSpeakUp.com.
Have you been bullied as a kid or an adult? Do you have tips to help prevent bullying?