If you’ve ever been or known a victim of bullying, you know the long-term effects it can have on those on the receiving end. It’s an issue that shouldn’t be ignored. Bullying may seem like a never-ending discussion in today’s world, but if we all work together, we can create a kinder classroom, a kinder workplace, and a kinder world.
Here are four ways to make kindness louder than hate:
1. Teach Kindness
Kindness must be taught and practiced. This is a learned behavior, not something we are born with. Parents, teachers, and community volunteers can plan kindness activities to explain the value of being kind. Giving kids the tools they need to choose kindness is a huge step toward ending bullying in schools and even the workplace as these kids grow into adults. When you see kindness being practiced, it's a good idea to recognize the person that completed the kind act. This validates the behavior and encourages more compassion toward others.
Resources to help you teach kindness:
2. Show Kindness
Research has shown that "zero-tolerance" and punishment tactics don't work in the face of bullying. Kindness wins for everyone. When a child is experiencing bullying, it's crucial for them to be able to recall the friend that reached out, the smile from a stranger, and the encouragement from a teacher.
Bullys need to be shown kindness, too. They need to have adults and kids in their lives that serve as kindness examples, and they need to be able to recall moments they experienced compassion and understanding.
Kind acts and words create an environment where open conversation is encouraged. When we're able to communicate effectively, we open the door to understanding how someone who's being bullied feels as well as finding a resolution for the bullying.
3. Reach Out
Victims of bullying can quickly feel isolated. Reach out to someone you may suspect is being bullied and remind them they’re not alone. Let them know that they are essential and that they matter. Being kind and accepting someone into your community who has felt excluded will boost their self-esteem and help counteract the damaging effects of bullying. You might find yourself a new close friend too!
4. Speak Up
Don’t be a passive bystander to bullying. Stand up for those around you and help put an end to the bullying. Even if you don’t feel like you’re able to stand up directly to a bully, report it to someone who can, and discuss how it should be handled. Letting bullying slide by only gives that person permission to keep going.
Bullying won’t magically end overnight, but if we all do our part, we can create a far-reaching ripple effect. Know that your voice and your kindness matters, even if it feels small.
“Do things for people not because of who they are or what they do in return, but because of who you are.”
— Harold S. Kushner