if, instead of ridiculing, taunting, and harassing a twelve year old girl who made a mistake, thousands of other twelve year
old girls had said,"Hey. We all make mistakes. It could have been any one of us. Come be my friend."
if we, as an online community, had wrapped our electronic love around Amanda when, in her silence, she flashed the "I
need a friend" card?
What if, Amanda herself had defiantly declared "YES! Those are my breasts and aren't
Janice, Wilfredo and Frank (names changed; from my school):
What if, when Janice removed her sweatshirt in class because she was feeling warm, Wilfredo hadn't turned to Frank
and said something like "flat as a pancake?" and what if the two of them hadn't snickered and laughed derisively?
What if Janice herself had said something like," Yeah, I got small breasts. They're beautiful. Get over it."
"What if, what if, what if?"
What if thirteen year old boys didn't taunt other boys with threats
of rape: of each other and of each other's mother? What if fourteen year old eighth grade girls didn't deride twelve year
old sixth grade girls with "Hunny Boo-Boo" comments and film the girls' dismay?
What if I didn't routinely
and often have crying children in my office? "Slut," "whore," and its derivative "hoe" are common
insults loudly hurled at girls or whispered about girls behind cupped hands.
What if those same children knew
each others' names? What if they greeted each other by those names?
What if children were quiet and attentive
in classrooms? Well rested? Prepared with homework done? Pencils sharpened?
What if teachers greeted children--arriving
BEFORE the bell rang--at classroom doors? What if all the teachers were smiling? What if teachers were not at their computers?
What if their focus truly was children and not the data surrounding those children?
What if Instagram accounts
targeting teachers and students with racially and sexually shocking content were just not created because we as a school community--WE
AS A SCHOOL COMMUNITY--were kind to each other?
What if, when we make mistakes,
we sincerely say "I'm sorry." What if, for example, when Wilfredo and Frank saw Janice's tears, they'd said, "We're
What if, when our feelings are hurt, we respectfully and honestly communicate that hurt? What if
Janice had been courageous enough to say: "Ouch! That hurts my feelings! That wasn't nice!" ?
all school teachers were true role models of integrity, patience, and tolerance?
What if all school administrators
were kind, fair, innovative women and men? Respected by and respectful of every person in their schools?
I, myself, own up to my shortcomings? What if I apologize right now to my daughter for my yelling yesterday at her? Her room
was messy. But it wasn't the mess that had me yelling, really. It was Wilfredo's and Frank's unkindness. It was Janice's tears.
It was my daily frustrations of just how mean we've all collectively become.
What if, instead of shrugging my
"solo" shoulders and giving up, I keep going and going and going? Writing and writing and writing? Live the "one
person can change the world" adage? What if we all lived it?
|Touch for the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program
Click here for U.R.A.J.E.R.K: A humorous play starring Mr. Bully Boss and Captain Effective Leader.
"We, bullied educators, think we each swim alone in isolated danger
ponds. We do not. Ours is an 'Ocean Of Danger.'" (K.W., 2013)