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Don’t Let Rules “Steamroll” Over Kids!

Kidpower, HELP! My child has just been suspended for kicking another kid who kept pulling their long hair. Even though we have asked the school for months to stop other students from bullying our child, this school has a zero-tolerance policy that is being mindlessly followed, and does nothing to address the problem. I feel as if my child is being steamrolled by the system, from a mother in Toronto. This is a common concern we hear from upset parents all over the world.

Zero-tolerance policies such as automatically suspending a child for hitting, even in self-defense, can backfire in damaging ways. In honor of International Child Protection Month this September, we want to share this inspiring example from our new book, Doing Right by Our Kids, about how even one adult leader can change the “steamroller” effect of a system acting automatically and unfairly into one of compassion and effective action.

When 10-year-old “Chloé” was in the 5th grade, her school principal used good judgment about how to apply their ‘no hitting’ school policy. For many years, an older girl, “Joséphine,” had been bullying Chloé. Suddenly, Joséphine started to strangle Chloé from behind, and she protected herself by elbowing Joséphine in the face. A teacher stepped in and sent them to the principal’s office.

The principal listened to both students’ versions of the story. He took into account that Chloé usually didn’t create trouble or get into fights. Then he said to Chloé, “I don’t want you to hit her again and my response to you will be very different if you are back in my office for this reason.But he didn’t stop there.

The principal gave Chloé a message that she never forgot by adding, “That said, congratulations for protecting yourself. I am proud of you. Now go back to recess. I will deal with Joséphine now. Please make sure to tell me if she tries to hurt you again. I will let the other teachers know about our talk.

The effect of the principal’s constructive support towards Chloé on the school community stopped years of bullying by not only Josephine, but by other students who had been following Joséphine in targeting her.

Safety rules and consequences for breaking them are essential in schools and other institutions. Unfortunately, when rules are automatically followed without the benefit of good judgment, these policies can become like a juggernaut steamrolling over people’s lives.

Learn more, enjoy a Special Offer, and help Kidpower!
You can learn more about how to prevent systems from steamrolling over kids and what actions you can take from Doing Right by Our Kids – while also supporting Kidpower.

On September 26, we invite you, your friends, and colleagues to purchase a copy of Doing Right by Our Kids to help us achieve Amazon best-seller status, which will enable this book to reach more people and help them learn how to protect children. If you email us a copy of your receipt for a purchase made on September 26th, we will send you a FREE bonus package valued at $375 that will include:

• A cartoon-illustrated Boundaries toolkit showing the essentials of teaching how to set healthy and appropriate boundaries with people you know.
• A chapter on Internet Safety by expert Linda Criddle from Courageous Parents, Confident Kids. This chapter provides essential tools and tactics to protect children from internet predators.
• Our Kidpower Tools to Live By graphic which features a quick reference summary of the skills we teach.
• An opportunity for a FREE expert email consultation on a safety concern with Dr. Amy Tiemann or myself, where we share our decades of practical expertise (a $300 value!).


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Published: September 12, 2018   |   Last Updated: September 12, 2018

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; The Kidpower Book for Caring Adults: Personal Safety, Self-Protection, Confidence, and Advocacy for Young People, and the Amazon Best Seller Doing Right by Our Kids: Protecting Child Safety at All Levels.