Irene van der Zande, Kidpower Executive Director and Founder

Irene van der Zande,
Kidpower Executive Director and Founder

I am sending love to each person in our Kidpower community with deep appreciation for our common ground of commitment to teaching skills to increase safety, respect, and confidence for everyone, including respect for different political and religious beliefs.

I am sending love to each and every one of you who is feeling sad and upset about the outcome of our election because you fear the results of having a US president who has said and done so many harmful things in the past and during this campaign.

And I am also sending love to each of you who is feeling relieved and glad, because even though you might deeply dislike some of the behaviors of our president-elect, you truly believe he was a better choice for president.

No matter who had won the presidential election, there would have been millions of people in the US and other countries who would have felt very scared and very sad and millions of others who would have felt very relieved and very glad.

Going forward, we must bring people together in ways that are hopeful and positive rather than harmful and destructive. We will strive to create common ground where people of different political beliefs can continue to work together to promote personal safety and stop violence and abuse of all kids and all adults.

We want to take this opportunity to reaffirm Kidpower’s values statement about Inclusion:

We welcome people of any age, culture, religion, race, gender, political belief, nationality, sexual orientation or gender identity, marital status, any kind of disability, or level of income who share our commitment to integrity and safety for everyone and who can join us in upholding our values.”

No matter what your political beliefs, here are five things you can do to further values that bring people together rather than tearing them apart — and to support people, especially children and teens, who are feeling deeply upset by this election:

1. Take a stand for safety and respect for everyone.

Tell the children, teens, and adults in your life that you stand against damaging behaviors that are against your values. Damaging behaviors include things like threats, insults, leaving people out, attacking an entire group of people for the harmful actions of a small percentage of their members, breaking the safety rules about private areas for kids, touching anyone’s private areas without their consent, and other kinds of bullying, harassment, and abuse.

Set a good example by staying respectful even when you strongly disagree or feel very upset with someone — and apologize if you get triggered and find yourself communicating in destructive ways.

During the campaign, many of the Kidpower safety rules against bullying behavior and unkind speech were broken. Like so many, I am concerned about the impact of this kind of behavior by anyone in a position of leadership.

Tell political leaders that you want them to act as healthy and positive role models for young people — and let them know that you are disappointed when they don’t, even if you might agree with many of their ideas.

2. Reach out to people who are feeling at risk.

People may be feeling at risk because they are part of a group that has been attacked or threatened during the campaign, or that is more vulnerable to be targeted for hate crimes. Tell them that they are important to you and that they are a valuable part of our society. Commit to speaking up for kindness, inclusion, and safety and against bullying, prejudice, and violence. Ask for support if you are feeling at greater risk for yourself or your loved ones, and tell people what kinds of support would be meaningful to you.

Fears of discrimination and hate crimes are urgent concerns for many kids and adults across the country. If you are in a position of privilege, you can use your voice to speak up as an ally.

3. Reassure children and teens who are feeling afraid.

The most important thing is to tell them that you will do everything in your power to protect them from harm. Children do not have the years and decades of living through harsh political campaigns to sort out harsh rhetoric from political reality —for example, knowing that the President does not decree laws, but needs Congress to pass them. Don’t assume that you know how kids have interpreted what they have heard on television or elsewhere. Talk to the children in your life to find out specifically what they are worried about. You may be able to objectively put some of their fears to rest. If there are genuine safety concerns, make a plan to address them. Explain that there are many people of different, even opposing political beliefs who still believe in unity, inclusion and respect for differences. Explain that elections are won or lost for many reasons that are sometimes unfair, and give kids hope that they can stay safe and enjoy their lives no matter who is president.

4. Use and provide Kidpower skills for emotional and physical safety.

Learn, teach, and coach social and physical safety skills, such as how to: speak up in ways that are both powerful and respectful; manage your emotional triggers; protect yourself from verbal and physical attacks; recognize and leave an unsafe situation; set boundaries about unsafe or disrespectful behavior; respect the boundaries of others; and get help when you need it. Rehearse using examples that are relevant to the individuals, and in ways that are fun and successful. If this sounds like a lot to take on, know that this is what we cover in Kidpower workshops and educational materials, and we would love to teach, review, or practice with you.

5. Get involved in making our world a better place.

Join with others to support causes that are important to you in ways that work well in your life. To me, working with Kidpower is more important than ever as we strive to move forward as a country.

As the saying goes, “It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.”

I am deeply grateful to each of you for how, through Kidpower, we have lit and are lighting countless candles of greater safety, respect, and confidence for everyone.

For more information about Kidpower’s resources for teaching these People Safety Skills and concepts, please visit our online Library (free community membership) and our RelationSafe™ Bookstore.

Click here to bring Kidpower resources to your School.

Kidpower Founder and Executive Irene van der Zande is a master at teaching safety through stories and practices and at inspiring others to do the same. Her child protection and personal safety expertise has been featured by USA Today, CNN, Today Moms, the LA Times, and The Wall Street Journal. Publications include: cartoon-illustrated Kidpower Safety Comics and Kidpower Teaching Books curriculum; Bullying: What Adults Need to Know and Do to Keep Kids Safe; the Relationship Safety Skills Handbook for Teens and Adults; Earliest Teachable Moment: Personal Safety for Babies, Toddlers, and Preschoolers; and The Kidpower Book for Caring Adults: Personal Safety, Self-Protection, Confidence, and Advocacy for Young People.

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