Bullying Prevention Awareness Month is over for this year in the United States. There was an outpouring of articles, observances, interviews, videos and other means of distributing the anti-bullying message during the month of October. There was also coverage of several significant events, especially surrounding the suicide of Amanda Todd. There were many memorial vigils across Canada (Source: The Globe and Mail) and around the world motivated by Todd’s death.
I have been working to reduce children’s bullying for 18 years in Canada, the US, and to a small extent in Europe (helped hugely by the Internet, where our materials are now being used in over 30 countries worldwide). I am all in favor of motivating Bullying Prevention Days, energizing speakers and programs, and catchy slogans. I have participated in all of those activities, and will continue to do so. The real challenge, however, is what happens every day – after the cameras have stopped rolling, after the bullying prevention expert has left the school, after the minute of silence is done.
If we do not change our behavior – adults and kids – the fun activities are useless. We must stop creating and enabling toxic environments – at home, school, and work – where people feel so disheartened they feel like killing themselves.
Where do we go from here? With everybody making the solemn, unshakeable commitment to clean up the bullying from our own behavior, in our families, workplaces, schools, TV (hint: turn off the reality shows), and the Internet.
Take The Challenge: For the next month, be willing to look fearlessly at the low-level bullying, gossiping, and exclusion we have allowed to become “normal” in our everyday lives. We have all played all 3 roles – bully, target, and primarily bystander. Track your progress for the month. Grab a notebook or a smartphone and keep a daily list of the negative opportunities you’ve passed by and, more importantly, the positive changes you are making. Post and share your stories by commenting below. We will all have successes and struggles.
- Do not participate in the bullying, humiliation, or exclusion of any human being
- Do not stand by and watch the bullying, humiliation, or exclusion of others. Stand up in groups to protect one another
- Commit to re-establishing respect for yourself and for others (because all bullying comes from lack of respect – for yourself and others)
- We don’t have to love everybody or be everybody’s best friend
- We must treat everybody with dignity & respect, even & especially in the face of conflict
Working together, we can create a huge amount of change starting in 3 months. Change take time and effort, but we can prevail.