I remember the day my 12-year-old daughter started middle school. It was an exciting time. I wasn’t worried about her success in middle school, after all her best friend was there to offer support. However, I soon discovered my daughter’s closest friend was a mother’s worst nightmare. This lovely child who spent the previous year and most of the summer at my house was on a mission to make my daughter’s life miserable! My smart, enthusiastic, over achiever was in tears daily.
I felt helpless. I knew my daughter was being bullied, but I didn’t know how to make it stop. After months of talking with therapists and school counselors the mystery was solved. The plan to sabotage my daughter’s success and self-confidence was foiled. Imagine enduring exclusion, taunting, whispering, rumors, slanderous text messages and phone calls, all instigated by the person you trust most in the world, your best friend!
Eventually the girls involved were punished. The school counselors attempted to alter schedules to accommodate my daughter, but it was time to move on. My daughter now attends a public school with grades 8 to 12. She’s engaged in learning making A’s and B’s and has a wonderful new group of friends.
I’m sharing this story because I’m certain hundreds of parents are dealing with this same scenario. How can we be proactive and stop bullying? The answer is create an environment where bullying is unacceptable. Improve the school environment by establishing a program that promotes character building, inclusiveness, caring attitudes, and leadership development. If we teach elementary students about these concepts they will walk away with the necessary skill set to deal with middle school bullies.
As adult volunteers we can go to a school or community center and model what being a leader and a caring adult looks like. We can serve as a mentor and provide a group of students with important life skills that will positively impact them throughout life. For those of you who currently serve as K-Kids club advisors, or Terrific Kids and Bring Up Grades sponsors thank you! For those of you thinking about sponsoring one of these programs – what’s stopping you?
If you need more convincing about the impact we make by becoming involved as a mentor through K-Kids, Terrific Kids or Bring Up Grades, visit the Search Institute’s Web site. The Search Institute has identified a group of developmental assets, or skills every child should attain in order to develop into a happy, capable and caring adult. Kiwanis is making a huge impact, but there’s always room for improvement!
My daughter’s new school has a Key Club (Kiwanis sponsored service club for teens). The environment at the new school is very different than the previous school she attended. The students are accepting, focused on academics, and very involved in giving back to the school and community. Does having a Kiwanis sponsored service program at this school have anything to do with this? What do you think?