Upstander Uprising

Photo credit: Reddit

Photo credit: Reddit

Here are two stories we loved. Two New Jersey teens were in a Wendy’s when an adult woman customer started yelling at the cashier (that part we didn’t love so much). Kaillee Whiting, 19 and Katie Light, 18, spoke up to defend the cashier. There had been a power outage and the kitchen was struggling to catch up. The woman, undeterred, waved her hand in Kaillee’s face and told her to shut up. Katie was not impressed. “We were very shocked that an older woman would be so immature.” We agree.

Here’s what we loved: Two teens, often on the receiving end of so much disrespect, had the strength and courage to take action. They protected a human being in distress, a target of bullying. They stood up, together, to ask an adult (politely, according to the reported story) to reconsider her actions. And the targeted young woman felt protected. That’s upstanding at its finest.

For their courage and humanity, Kaillee and Katie received a thank you from the cashier, in the form of chicken nuggets, 2 Frosties, and a great thank you note (see picture).

But wait, there’s more. Halsey Parkerson, a high school student in Salem, OR was overwhelmed when 100 people in cars pulled into a parking lot near his school to have lunch with him. Seems a classmate told Halsey that he had no friends and nobody cared about him. Halsey’s aunt, who overheard the conversation, put the word out on Facebook to her car club, inviting everyone to come to lunch with Halsey that Friday. People came from as far away as Vancouver to prove that thoughtless bully wrong.

Even the bully had a change of heart. When he saw the support of 100 people standing around Halsey, he apologized, took his words back, and high-fived Halsey. Kudos to a kid who made a mistake, then found the courage to look inside, change his heart, and change his behavior. We all make mistakes. It’s what comes next that matters.

The reward in this story is much larger than the Frosties or the lunchtime drive-in. To Kaillee and Katie, we add our thanks and admiration. We thank you, as have many others, for being a fine example of the best of what’s truly inside teens. And to all of you who have gone out of your way to stand up and lend a supportive hand to someone in need, you can be proud of the face that looks back at you in the mirror.

We need more stories like this, more adults and kids to take action, until it becomes completely un-newsworthy.

Your Turn: Have you been in a situation when someone needed help against a bully? What did you, or those around you, do? What did you learn? Would you do anything differently now?

Learning Moment: There have been times in my life where I missed the moment to speak up. While I still regret some of those missed opportunities, I’ve learned that the first time is sometimes a learning experience. It prepares me, alerts me, so that the next time it happens, I’ve already thought about when and how to speak up. Disarming a bullying situation needs to be done with care. Don’t bully or humiliate the aggressor. You don’t want to put yourself in danger, and your goal is to make the person with the bad behavior stop and reconsider their actions, now and for the future.

Join the upstander uprising! Speak up!

Learn More:

E Nochlin, Facebook Used To Rally 100 To Stand Behind Boy Being Bullied,, Oct 18, 2013

E Ostroff, Wendy’s Customers Defend Server Against Bully, Get Frosties and Food,, Jul 29, 2013

Photo Credit: Reddit


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