October is National Bullying Prevention Month, and 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.
(Author’s note: My friend’s name was changed to “Sam” protect anonymity.)
My friend Sam stopped by while I was writing about the 9 Warning Signs of Bullying. His normally smiley face instantly turned serious, and 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 wouldn’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 9 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.
Yet, the bullying continued. So in order to cope, Sam began to pick on kids his own age – 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.
Finally after months of abuse, Sam finally alerted his parents and the P.E. teacher. So 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.
But 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.”
And Sam is not alone – nearly 1 out of every 3 students reports being bullied during the school year, according to the National Center for Educational Statistics, 2013 (watch Dylan’s moving story about bullying).
So 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.
Case Study: Oglethorpe Point Elementary School in St. Simons Island, Ga., flipped the conversation on bullying. Read about how they made Compassion a priority after losing a kindergartner to cancer.
Want to do more? Order COMPASSION IT wristbands as a simple tool for introducing compassion to children.
About Compassion It
Compassion It is a nonprofit whose mission is to spread compassion and inspire compassionate actions through workplace training, personal development training, tools, and content. We envision a world where compassion is practiced by every person, for every person, on every day.
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