The power of kindness to overcome bullying
by Lauren Ivy Chiong
Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.
That’s the saying we learned as children to recite when picked on by bullies, but the statement that the words never hurt couldn’t have been further from the truth. The truth is that cruel words can hurt as much as a physical injury, even if it’s in a different way, and the wounds run deep and can last a lifetime.
I was the prototypical nerdy girl who got picked on in the locker room and chosen last in P.E. I’ll never forget what the mean girls said to me, even though it’s decades later. Now I’m the mother to a preschooler, and she’s on the verge of being old enough to understand what it means to get picked on for being different and to have her feelings get hurt.
How can the inevitable cruelty in the schoolyard be overcome? The first thing that comes to mind is kindness.
I was very pleased to find some current examples of how kindness is being used in schools to overcome bullying and foster compassion and friendship.
Performing random acts of kindness
In Terre Haute, Indiana, a local non-profit organization called SPPRAK, an acronym for Special People Performing Random Acts of Kindness, has unveiled a program at Dixie Been Elementary School called SPPRAK Pack. The program’s mission is to help students celebrate acts of kindness by allowing them to record fellow students’ good deeds on sticky notes, which are then placed on a large banner displayed in the school’s front hallway. The notes record moments of students sharing lunches, helping put toys away, opening the door for each other, and more. The program is expected to be available soon in all of the 28 schools in Vigo County, Indiana.
Stopping cyberbullying with kindness
Jeremiah Anthony, a student at West High School in Iowa City, Iowa, is combating cyber bullying one compliment at a time. He created a Twitter account called @WestHighBros to send out kind tweets about his fellow classmates when he became aware of the growing problem of students being bullied via social media. Anthony, along with two friends, send out tweets full of praise and encouraging words for students whom they choose randomly.
Here are some samples of the @WestHighBros tweets:
“Leader in so many ways. You don’t tell lies and you are forever real. Your infectious smile brightens everyone’s day around you.”
“One of the funniest and classiest guys we know. Fantastic on the soccer field and in the classroom. Keep up the great work!”
So far the friends have sent out more than 3,000 tweets and counting.
#26Acts of kindness for Sandy Hook
After the tragic school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, San Antonio elementary school teacher Susan Garcia wondered how she could honor the victims while providing comfort to the students in her third grade class.
She saw a tweet from NBC’s Ann Curry, labeled with the hashtag #26Acts, suggesting that people perform 26 acts of kindness, one for each victim of the tragedy. Garcia immediately decided to embrace the idea for her students.
The students had a ball coming up with good deeds they could do for each other, including giving hugs and smiles, welcoming someone new at the school, and picking up trash.
Then the students went about recording their completed good deeds on a Random Acts of Classroom Kindness, or “RACK,” sheet. The students ultimately recorded 115 acts of kindness with plans to continue doing the good deeds for the rest of the school year and beyond.
These inspiring examples are just a few of the ways kids are learning the importance of kindness, which in its many forms can combat bullying.
How do you foster kindness and compassion in the children in your life? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below!