Last week, I had the honor of speaking at a press conference held by San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon to kick off their subcommittee’s “Bye Bye Bullying” video contest for middle and high school students in San Francisco.
When communities unite to speak out and take action against bullying, we can protect our young people from suffering and empower them through awareness, understanding, and skills.
Any of us would feel stressed and miserable if we believed we were helpless and stuck in a situation where others were being deliberately cruel to us. Being in a frequent state of misery and stress is unhealthy at any age.
Research on kids who have been bullied indicate that they are at greater risk of academic problems, health problems, and substance abuse problems. One study even showed that kids who are bullied or otherwise maltreated have negative changes in their DNA.
At Kidpower, we have heard countless stories of kids who were bullied for differences such as disabilities, size, religion, race, or sexual orientation.
To stop bullying, we need awareness and understanding – but these alone are like having two legs on a three-legged chair. Without having the third leg of skills to act on your awareness and understanding, the chair will topple. Adults and kids alike need skills for what to say and do in the moment when bullying occurs.
Even the best anti-bullying plans and polices in the world won’t work if adults walk by and do nothing when kids are being shoved, threatened, insulted, or shunned in front of them.
Polices and good intentions alone are not enough. To stop bullying, everyone involved has to live and breathe the actions that these policies represent every moment of every day. To do this, we must:
1. Make SURE young people know we care.
2. Stop unkind, disrespectful behavior with the same intention that we would stop kids from throwing rocks through windows.
3. Teach kids skills for taking charge of their emotional and physical safety.
The video contest conducted by the DA’s office is an important way for adults to show young people that bullying is wrong and we want to work together to ensure that everyone is treated with respect and feels safe – and that everyone understands that they are responsible for acting safely and respectfully towards others.
After over two decades of doing bullying prevention work, I feel moved to be the expert advisor for this dedicated group and to have Kidpower acknowledged as a co-sponsor along with the DA’s office, Zendesk, San Francisco Unified School District, Boys and Girls Clubs of San Francisco, the Giants, Common Sense Media, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, the Academy of Art University, the Filipina Women’s Network, the US Attorney’s Office, and James Hall Photography.
Let’s work together to make our communities places of caring, respect, and safety for all young people – and adults too!
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