When they start listening, then maybe they can start to see how we can change the narrative in the Luther Public School District.
The current narrative is one where the bully wins, the bystanders don’t need to speak up because action is not taken, and victims are ignored. That narrative will continue to shape the people who are growing up in this environment. Into adulthood, these people will carry beliefs about how they should treat others, how they should allow others to be treated, and how they should allow themselves to be treated. Let’s give our kids a healthy narrative for how to treat others, how to be treated, and how to allow others to be treated.
I believe an anti-bullying campaign needs to be launched in the school district that deals with the issues from multiple angles. I think a speaker or series of speakers/assemblies should be held to start the conversation. I think we should put tangible items in the hands of kids, faculty, and parents – conversation starters, reading material, posters, jelly bracelets, t-shirts, etc.
I think we should make sure parents are made aware of the issue via all communication avenues available – phone calls, emails, text messages, and they should be brought into the conversation. This should not be done as a blame game, or pointing fingers about whose child is taking which part in the bullying dynamic. Instead, this should inform parents and give them tools and resources to have conversations at home. Many parents believe bullying won’t affect their kids, and they often don’t know how to start these conversations. Let’s help them talk to their kids about how to treat others, how to be treated, and how to allow others to be treated.
I think the most important part of making this puzzle complete is bringing students into the picture, and giving them ownership. This is their school, their conversation, their fight. They should be given the platform to have conversations about bullying. This platform needs to be facilitated in assemblies, small group settings, and the classrooms.
Bullies need to learn a better way, and this education needs to come without assumptions about their home lives. The bullied need to gain a voice, and be given an appropriate way to express how being victimized makes them feel. They need a chance to create something healthy from the hurt. They need to know they will be heard and action will be taken on their behalf. The bystanders need to learn that intervening can save someone from heartbreak, and can even save their life. They need to learn that they aren’t just tattle tales for reporting the things they see or hear, and that they will be taken seriously.
If we can guide the students in LPS to take ownership of the bullying dynamic, and break it apart, we can see lasting change. This type of change will be carried on in years to come, and the LPS District will be a safe source of education for more kids in the future. There will not be room for an elite group of students that are hailed for particular strengths or talents, while students of other talents and strengths are allowed to be pushed around because they are viewed as weak.
We can empower our students to choose kindness when dealing with one another, to accept one another, and to coexist with peers they don’t always understand or agree with. If we can start these conversations, and break down the walls created by fear and ignorance, we can begin rebuilding a unified, strong community. We will have to work together, and we will have to choose kindness. We will have to find a way to communicate through and past the issues we don’t agree on. We will have to remember, as we have these conversations and make these changes, that as parents dealing with fellow parents, we are fiercely protective and greatly naive in regards to our own children. We will have to rise above our instinctual nature to protect and our desire to believe the best, we will have to step back and clear our view and our vision, and we will have to own our part as we lead our youth to own their part.
I believe that we have it in us, and I believe these changes can come to fruition. I pray for eyes to be opened, hearts to be softened, and grace to abound.
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13