At COMPASSION IT, we encourage schools and parents to introduce compassion to prevent and curb bullying. Our reversible wristbands are an easy and tangible tool that make compassion accessible for all ages.
My friend Sam* stopped by while I was writing a piece about the warning signs of bullying. His normally smiley face instantly turned serious. With a quiet voice, he told me that he was bullied in school, and that he eventually began to bully others.
Sam was courageously willing to share his story with me so perhaps other children won’t have to endure the kind of suffering he endured. By sharing Sam’s story, we hope parents and teachers will begin to open their eyes to the warning signs of bullying.
At age six or seven, Sam was picked on by older and bigger kids on the playground. They would push him down, keep him off of the playground equipment, say hurtful comments like, “You’re not big enough to be here,” “We don’t like playing with you,” and “You’re stupid.”
This happened day after day, and Sam didn’t tell his teacher or his parents. He figured the bullying would stop eventually, and he believed that adults wouldn’t be able to help him.
The bullying continued. In order to cope, Sam began to pick on kids his own age. Mainly, he would exclude them and use the same types of language that the bullies used on him. Eventually, though, Sam realized that bullying others wasn’t making him feel better.
Unfortunately, the bullying didn’t end there. When he was in the seventh grade, Sam experienced bullying in the locker room. His locker was in a far reaches of the locker room, out of the P.E. teacher’s view, and eighth grade lockers surrounded him. The eighth graders would take his lunch and steal his money each day. They also shoved him and kept him from leaving the corner.
After months of abuse, Sam finally alerted his parents and the P.E. teacher. They moved his locker, but the kids didn’t leave him alone.
What does Sam say about his experience with bullying? He said that for many years, he did not feel comfortable being himself. His sense of self-worth was low, and he wanted to merely blend in as much as possible.
Thankfully, Sam got through the pain and can now look back and see how the bullying molded him into being the empathetic man he is today. “Through experiencing what it is like to be both the victim and culprit, I have learned the hard way that I need to stick up for myself, that is was okay to ask for help, and also how to be a great friend and stand up for others. I can now practice compassion for all others: victim, bully, or by-stander. We all deserve to be treated nicely and with respect. “
Sam is not alone. Nearly one out of every three students reports being bullied during the school year, according to the National Center for Educational Statistics, 2013. (Watch Dylan’s moving story about bullying.)
As parents and educators, we must begin to open our eyes to the warning signs of bullying. We must also begin to add something to the mix – compassion. As the antidote to bullying and violence, compassion allows us to see that everyone around us is “just like me” and deserves to be treated fairly.
The next blog post will explain how making compassion a priority in school and at home can end bullying before it begins.
*My friend’s name was changed to protect anonymity
Order COMPASSION IT wristbands as a simple tool for introducing compassion to children.