The Character Movement

Kids Will Stand Up

The end of our Respect Retreat® is a powerful time for students. Kids start to realize the impact of bullying – not only on the bullied, but also on the rest of the school and even on the bullies themselves. It’s not uncommon for chronic bullies to get up and apologize to the people they’ve picked on and also to their classmates and teachers. They also often promise that they are going to be better people going forward.

After one of these retreats, I got a call from an assistant principal who is a friend of mine. He called to tell me that after the retreat, one of the school’s worst bullies had gone right back to his old ways of behavior. He said that while the bully was picking on one of his favorite targets, two girls in the class stood up and called him on it.

“We are sick of this,” the girls said. “Yesterday, you promised you were going to stop. Cut it out!” Apparently the bully was so rattled by this confrontation that he ran out of the classroom.

Stories about kids who overcome their fear of standing up for themselves and others are the stories we need to be sharing. Teachers, administrators and parents can only do so much when it comes to bullying. It’s not until the kids themselves stand up and take ownership for a school’s culture that it will change.

Our challenge as parents is to encourage our kids to take more courageous stands. We have got to stop telling our kids to turn the other way when they see trouble. They need to see when it is their responsibility to do what is right and perhaps risk a bit. We need them to see that who they are and what they do will always matter – even when it comes to the biggest, thorniest problems facing the world.

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