Believe it or not, (this line is for my grandkids) I was once a teenager. Yes, life was different them. I never texted anyone. I never posted my feelings on Facebook or had anyone post their thoughts about me in any public forum. However, there were a couple of times that I was bullied painfully, both times by some of my best friends. I survived it and so did most of the friendships.
I understand that today’s bullying can be much more intense, wide-spread and far longer lasting. The results are far worse as well. Teen suicide, especially among girls, is at an all-time high and some boys have chosen an even more devastating solution; mass shootings.
Teens and adults are being very vocal right now about gun control and other safety precautions to make schools a safe place again. I understand this. Sadly laws alone will not completely keep them away from those who should not have access to weapons.
Something has to be done. We must do what is necessary to protect our kids. Guns of any type should not be legally owned by severely mentally ill people. Note the word severely, this should not include those with mild depression or anxiety.
However, all the gun control in the world will not be able to fix the problem. The kids who are demonstrating for solutions in that direction can never completely erase the danger. Kids do have the power to make great change though, if they are willing to act on it.
We have a wonderful program around here called “Be Nice, Be Kind. That is critical. Everyone needs a smile, a positive word, an unasked for favor; but I propose we take it further. Forgive me if this sounds cheesy, but kids (and adults too) if you really want to make a huge difference:
Don’t Be Rude, Include.
Think about it. Over and over we hear that the people who attack these schools were bullied and felt excluded from the social life of school.
What if enough people had reached out and included them? What if someone had taken the risk to invite them to a party, or called somebody out who was bullying them? What if a group of friends started sitting down to lunch at the table of a kid who always sits alone and they included him or her in their conversation? I’m talking about doing things which take some courage. These are intentional actions that take thought and planning. These are things that can save lives.
It is easy to join a group and protest. It can be a very positive experience. It is our right as an American and can cause needed change.
However, we can make the biggest difference one person at a time. Better yet, that change, the absence of horrific violence, will occur in your school and your world:
Don’t Be Rude, Include.