Bullying ends where kindness begins.

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In the words of Andrew Jackson, “I will speak ill of no one, and speak all the good I know of everybody.”

Andrew Jackson knew the power of words, as did many great people in our history. More and more people are becoming aware of how the abuse of this command of words can hurt people. It is in fact a form of bullying! I am very passionate about raising awareness and preventing bullying. Bullying has grown to be so much more involved and dynamic; furthermore, with the emergence of technology, bullying has snaked into the realm of cyberspace aka cyber-bullying.

The digital age has made bullying too easy because we can hide behind the cloak of a fictitious screen-name and anonymity. It is my mission that we all aspire to use words to bring more love and kindness into our immediate environments. Let us use our power of words to heal, not hurt. Let us serve as an example to those who do not know any better, namely our children. Spread news that is good (not gossip, which is negative). Share words that are helpful and true (not rumors or disinformation). Let us put into practice T-H-I-N-K:

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We also need to remember to be gentle with our own selves. Applying THINK to the words we speak to ourselves is equally important. I know I have bullied myself at times when I am feeling upset or sad, especially when I have felt like I could have done better, looked better, be better, etc. I need to remember that I am perfectly imperfect and wonderful just as I am. I do not need to berate myself with words, when I have made a mistake.

Any form of bullying or negativity is intolerable; and, it should be addressed immediately. When I witness any form of bullying, injustice, or negative behavior, I make a concerted effort to get involved and address it. If I do not get involved, then I believe that I am condoning the bullying and adding to the ill-treatment of the victim. That would be UNACCEPTABLE! So, how do I involve myself in a negative, intolerable situation without becoming an antagonist myself? The answer is with kindness.

Kindness is a vital tool in addressing and overcoming negativity. Through generous, but judicial use of gentle, loving words and benevolent behavior, we can overcome negative situations amicably. Address the actions without pointing out the bully or the victim brings balance back to situation. It is better to ask all involved in the bullying event with questions like: “What is going on here? Or, is there a problem here?” using a calm demeanor and gentle tone of voice, instead of only focusing on the antagonist using inflammatory questions like: “Who do you think you are? Or, what do you think you are doing?”

What is kindness? Kindness is being nice to yourself and others by doing deeds that are loving, helpful and compassionate. Kindness is being courteous. Kindness is showing you care. Love is patient and kind; it does not envy or boast (from 1 Corinthians 13:4). Kindness is being in and experience the moment with others. Kindness is giving your undivided attention during conversations (ignoring distractions like a cell-phone). Kindness is treating others as you would like to be treated. Kindness is whatever comes to your heart; you get to fill-in-the-blank.

What else can we do? As a survivor of bullying in school and in the workplace, I was driven to study the dynamics of bullying and ways to address it in my doctoral work. Bullying, in fact, has actually made me more resilient, which I contribute to the encouragement of my loving family. I also had such a wonderful support system outside of school with community theater and the performing arts. I had no time to let the hurt of the bullying fester, because I had so many extracurricular activities in addition to academic endeavors to keep me occupied. Positive activities outside of school with different groups of peers promote self-esteem.

An involved family and community is essential to bolster the confidence of our youth. I urge parents and other caretakers to be super curious. Be more observant and increase your awareness. Computers and cell-phones are technologies many of us did not have when we were teenagers. Our parents snooped in our diaries and journals, instead. They listened in on our phone conversations over a land-line. Our neighbors “tattled” on us if they saw us doing something out of the ordinary. It takes a loving community to raise our children. Whether you have your own kids or not, see how you can get involved.

Establish open communication with your children. Be assertive. Get their passwords. Do random checks. See what your child is doing. Yes, your teenager will resent it, but wouldn’t you rather be resented than have he or she commit a heinous act (cyber-bullying, suicide, or worse).

Consider doing community service projects with your family, like a canned food drive or neighborhood beautification project. Ride bikes, hike, shoot hoops, kick around a ball, etc. with your family. When parents and their children do activities together, they grow closer. Encourage your teenagers to help the elderly in your neighborhood. Invite your neighbor’s teenagers to wash your car, cut the grass, or pull weeds as an opportunity to earn a little cash. The more we do for each other in a community the closer the community. This is instrumental to creating a safe and secure neighborhood.

Should we condemn bullies? No! We can only disallow the behavior of bullying. Many bullies were bullied! To end bullying, we need to create a loving and kind community, school, and environment that does not support negativity. We need to bring attention to the positive in our lives and community.

Each of us need to be a role model and set the tone. We need to act kindly and loving to one another. We need to engage others with love and compassion whenever possible. This means, blessing drivers who cut you off in traffic, engaging every person with a smile and kindness even when we have a valid complaint. In our own homes, when watching television (especially if we have children), we need to avoid negative comments; and avoid calling a commentator, a newscaster, a political candidate anything negative aloud. If we cannot say something positive, constructive or helpful, we need not say anything at all.

The habit of being positive, loving, and kind will carry into every aspect of our lives. I know that when I am in an agitated emotional state, it is harder for me to be positive; however, I know the more I mindfully practice being positive, loving and kind, the easier it will be for me to stay in upbeat and encouraging. I believe we all can work together to make our world more loving and positive place. And, I have discovered that the more I stay positive, the more positivity I see in our world. May love and kindness fill your heart at this moment and inspire you to inspire others. Let us all get involved, be positive, use loving words and be kind.

One final note…October 1st kicked off National Bullying Prevention Month! National Bullying Prevention Month is a nationwide campaign founded in 2006 by PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center. (PACER – Parent Advocacy Coalition for Educational) The campaign is held during the month of October and unites communities around the world to educate and raise awareness of bullying prevention. Over the past 10 years, this campaign grew from a small week-long event to a worldwide effort with multiple activities throughout October. National Bullying Prevention Month is supported by hundreds of schools, major corporations, and celebrities. Join the movement! Celebrate a Decade Together Against Bullying. Be a part of this exciting anniversary and spread the message: The End of Bullying Begins With Me!

More resources:
Campaign for Kindness – Bringing People Together to Stand Up Against Bullying
Dealing with Bullying: Helping bullied kids and teens (helpguide.org)
Random Acts Of Kindness (randomactsofkindness.org)
Think Kindness (thinkkindness.org)
Stop Bullying (stopbullying.gov)

All rights reserved. ©2016 by A. K. Orobko

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