Amanda and I wrote The Kindness Advantage, in part to help families positively address the increase in disrespectful and bullying behavior. Bullying can be physical or emotional and can occur at any stage of our life.
Too many of us choose to do nothing when they see or hear something that demeans another person. There are many reasons why people walk by or watch but do nothing when they see an injustice. Sometimes, we don’t know what to say, don’t want to get involved, are afraid, or feel we don’t have enough information to intervene. Most bullying stops when someone intervenes. And more to the point, the person who is being bullied feels that SOMEONE is standing up for and with them. “When you see something say something” is not just about reporting a suspicious bag on the subway or at the airport. It is for everyday life.
We generally feel better when we live in a way that is consistent with our values. We are the ones responsible for teaching our children to do the same. Helping another person who is threatened or in peril (or trying to get them help) is what we would hope someone would do for us if we were in a similar situation. Each of us can “be there” for a person in need. When we witness someone being mistreated, insulted, demeaned, or excluded, we can check in with ourselves and do the kind thing.
There are a few organizations that have devoted their time and energy to developing programs and trainings for children and adults to help them adjust from being bystanders to being allies. We can all benefit from their work in calling out, trying to reduce, and hopefully illuminate hatred and bigotry. We can all find ways to focus on helping children find their own voice to stand up for someone who is being bullied.