Friday, August 19, 2011
It was a simple Facebook post I happened to read while taking a break from working:
“School is starting, so if you see someone who is struggling to make friends or being bullied because he/she doesn't have many friends or because they are shy or not as pretty or not dressed in name brand clothes PLEASE step up. Say hi or at least smile at them in the hallway. You never know what that person might be facing outside of school. It might just make a BIG difference in someone's life!”
Wow was all I could think…my own kids are thrilled about going back to school, they’ve got new backpacks, new lunchboxes, new clothes and shoes, bags full of school supplies, they know who their teachers are, we’ve been practicing multiplication facts, making bike-riding plans with other neighborhood kids, they can’t wait to see all of their friends – I don’t think the excitement level could get much higher. And then it hit me, some kids are probably dreading going back to school. For them, school is filled with days of being taunted, ridiculed, and bullied. They don’t have friends, they don’t fit in, there is no happiness, no excitement, and my heart sank. That any child should feel that is simply unimaginable and unjustified. Yet we know it happens in schools every day with research stating almost 1 in 3 students will experience some sort of bullying or cyberbullying while in school.*
Sufficiently depressed, I got off Facebook and got back to work editing documents for our Speak Up Be Safe™ (SUBS) program. SUBS is a safety and child abuse prevention program that includes prevention education for Florida’s 1st through 5th grade students on all types of child abuse, Internet Safety, and BULLYING. It teaches kids about tricks and force, bullying and cyberbulling – and it teaches them strategies to use if they find themselves in unsafe situations facing these things. Research tells us that half or more of all bullying CAN BE PREVENTED, and knowing that The Foundation is working hard to provide Speak Up Be Safe™ to all elementary children in Florida certainly made me feel better!
So here’s a reminder: Speak Up Be Safe™ and the work of the Monique Burr Foundation for Children staff, the Speak Up Be Safe™ facilitators, our partners, our donors, and schools can change this! We can help create the next generation of students that care, that don’t taunt, ridicule or bully, that will say hi and smile at that student in the hallway who is struggling to make friends, is shy, or isn’t dressed in designer clothes, so they can be just as excited to go back to school as my girls are! What a great day that will be not only for them, but for everyone who cares about kids as well!