Be Nice - 08/20/14
With the start of the school year comes the renewed effort to prevent bullying and promote civility.
I have to admit, when I went to school last week for the kick off festivities, I was a little peeved to learn we had to buy new school t-shirts this year in Williamson County schools. After all, my kids still fit in theirs and they still look brand new.
Then, I caught a glimpse of the new shirt and quickly changed my tune. Instead of just the school name and the mascot as in year's past.... this year the words, "BE NICE" are emblazoned on the front of the shirt. The text of those two words is emphasized in font about 50% bigger than the school name and about 90% bigger than the school mascot. Prominent placement that's sure to be effective. It would be hard for kids NOT to get the message. It's a succinct and powerful visual reinforcement of the way we should all behave. I love these new shirts.
My heart is forever broken by bullying stories I've covered.... children who have taken their own lives because someone was mean to them, repeatedly, and no one did anything about it. We had a record number of local teens kill themselves in 2012 and they all left notes or made comments that they couldn't take the bullying anymore. At that time, the problem seemed to be spiraling out of control so we assembled a town hall panel to openly discuss solutions. One of the biggest issues, as we learned, is bullying on social media. This takes the old school bullying from yesteryear and puts it on steroids. For example, a group of kids pushes and taunts another kid at the lockers. That's bullying as we adults remember it, but then the bullies take it a step further and post something negative or untrue about the kid on social media. Now.... bullying feels like dozens, hundreds, thousands of kids ganging up on you because of all the eye witnesses who see and read these things about you on Facebook, Twitter, etc.
We're airing a story tonight about Murfreesboro City Schools and their anti bullying campaign. They're instructing students to include other kids who may be left out.. and to tell an adult at school or at home if they know of someone being bullied or if they're being bullied.
Let's all do something about it. Let's not wait for an official campaign, or movement or even a t-shirt. Let's set the example as adults. We can do this by not picking people apart for their appearance, clothes, weight, accent, skin color, hair, etc.... at all... and especially in front of our kids. If we do this, we give our kids a license to do the same.
Several years ago, I had a mom email me and read me the riot act about a pair of earrings I wore on the news one night. She said something like, 'My daughter and I are sitting here watching you right now and laughing so hard we're rolling on the floor at your ridiculous earrings. You look like Betty Rubble from the Flintstones tonight. Please don't wear those again. I hope this doesn't hurt your feelings, but I just had to thank you for a great laugh tonight.'
I wrote her back, thanked her for watching the news and said something like 'Ya know... I'm old, have thick skin and have been around the block more than a few times. It would take a lot to hurt my feelings. Your email actually made me laugh too. Now that you mention it, these earrings do look just like Betty Rubble's. Thanks for the giggle---- But, allow me the opportunity to point out one thing. If your daughter goes to school tomorrow and does the same thing to a child struggling with low self esteem, who's trying to find herself.... it could have a detrimental effect. Thinking it in your mind is one thing. Even giggling with your daughter in the privacy of your own home is another, but taking the time to look up someone's email address and write that person a letter with your daughter peering over your shoulder.... that's borderline and probably not the example you're really wanting to set for your daughter. Let us all be more aware of what our actions say to our kids. I will if you will.
Betty Rubble's modern day twin"
I still wear those earrings by the way. They're some of my favorites, plus I never throw anything away.
I only shared that as an example of what some moms and dads do and say in front of their children and how moms and dads are then training their children to go to school and inherently do the same thing. As my mom always said, "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all."
Be the difference. BE NICE!