An email just arrived and I must admit that it took me by surprise. In all the years that Rugby’s message has been out there, we have had very few negative comments.
Most of the time, adults and kids have responded with positive remarks and appreciation for all that we are trying to do here. The “Tail” of Rugby Jones: A Rascal’s Journey from Disability to Ability was the beginning of our mission because of the quantity of unbelievably positive responses that we received. Parents and kids shared their stories both good and bad and everyone benefited from their experiences.
We learned about bullying from the kids and parents who experienced bullying first hand from the perspective of the bullies, the bullied, the bystanders and the parents.
Over and over again, we have heard how much our message has helped children embrace their differences and take pride in who they are. We have received a ton of messages sharing how much better kids get the fact that weight differences, stature differences, ethnic differences, sexual differences, learning differences and physical differences shouldn’t be the basis for how people are treated.
Then, an email arrived today that rocked my very being! I will only quote a portion of it.
“How dare you tell people that it’s ok to be homosexual? How dare you say that different races are the same as us? You are the devil and you are spreading the devil’s message that bad people and bad deeds are a good thing.”
Receiving an email like this proves to me that our message is an important one. How can children understand that bullying and demeaning any person is wrong when this is what they see adults doing?
School personnel can be overworked and overtired but they can still take a stand to lower the number of kids being bullied by watching.
They need to really watch the kids. I don’t mean looking at groups of kids as a whole. I mean watching individual kids and how they walk, talk and interact with the other kids?
Aside from having zero tolerance for bullying, there are so many ways that adults can get to the crux of the matters that lead up to bullying events.
As an example, there is a simple exercise that parents, teachers and staff can do that will give them great insight regarding the kids who could be targets of bullying and kids who might be bullying.
They should watch groups of kids getting off the bus, walking down the halls and going to and from the lunch rooms.
Here are some examples:
Watch how the kids walk.
- Do they stand up straight and walk with pride?
- Do they walk with slumped shoulders giving the impression that they are trying to fade into the back ground?
Watch how the kids interact with each other.
- Do they laugh and seem happy?
- How do they interact with kids of the same sex and kids of the opposite sex?
Watch what goes on in the locker room where kids change into their PE clothes.
- Are there kids who seem to shy away from the other kids or seem overly modest?
- Are there kids who appear to be taunting kids who are not as physically mature as the others?
Periodically, do locker checks and book bag checks.
- Take note of messy book bags or lockers. (They might indicate tha
- t they are being emptied or dumped by someone.)
- Look for any marks or destruction.
These are just a few of the many ways that adults can help protect all children from bullying.