Thursday, January 2, 2014

Wake-up Call on Bullying

Wake-up Call on Bullying: 

What are you waiting for? Get Compassion-Fit

At the start of every new year, people are filled with dreams and goals for the coming year as though they get to wipe the slate clean to erase the negative habits from the year past.  It gives us hope to think we can, for example, shed some pounds, quit smoking, become more physically fit, run a marathon or climb a mountain peak. Memberships at the fitness centers increase and classes are bulging at the seams but within a few weeks, the overcrowded gyms and running pathways dwindle down to the numbers of people who were already there – the ones who have cultivated the daily habits as a way of life.

Why is it that so many people do not stick to their goals?

Perhaps they have not had a “wake-up call”. Perhaps their reason, their “why,” is not grand enough. How many times have known someone was whisked away in an ambulance, or returned home from a doctor’s visit with sobering news of a health threat and they begin their fitness regimen to do the things we knew we should have been doing all along: healthy diet and regular exercise. Their wakeup call? Their diagnosis. The goal? To beat the looming threat of disease or health threat and live longer and healthier. However those who are unable to give up their habits despite the wake-up call, will unlikely be able to give it a fighting chance.

Another reason why they don’t stick to their goal is perhaps they really don’t see their negative habits as part of the problem or don’t really want to give up that way of life. Perhaps the goal was perceived to be unattainable, too big, too far, too long and so they give up. Or perhaps, when they have a set back or two, they give up on themselves and quit. Perhaps they never really believed things could change in the first place.

I find all of this analogous to why so many schools continue to be ineffective in dealing with the problem of bullying. Under certain conditions and without effective treatment or preventive practices or habits, cancer spreads and grows and has damaging outcomes. Did you just see the light bulb? The analogy? Bullying is like a cancer. The climate and culture of bullying spreads and weakens a school and home environment and without effective intervention or preventive practices or habits, it spreads and grows and has damaging outcomes.

Diagnosis- bullying is at epidemic levels
The wake-up calls are sending us information: crisis! People are crying out for help. Children need our help and we are failing them. When children are ending, or attempting to end their lives, to escape the pain and torment of bullying, or when children are taking out their frustration on others through violent rampages, I don’t know how the message could get any clearer. And yet day after day there are stories, only some of which make the headlines, or comments from people on social media how their pleas for help at school get dismissed or unanswered, or additional school shootings. The cancer is spreading.

We have all heard the rally “it takes a village to raise a child” yet when the child is at school we are told “it’s the parent’s responsibility” and when at home we are told “it’s the school’s responsibility”. When it’s not our child we say “not my child” and we stay out of it. When our child is accused of bullying parent's try to excuse it. Wake up! Bullying will only grow and spread more unless we are willing to stop it in its tracks. All of us. The whole village- at home, at school, and in the community.

Wake up! You don’t beat cancer by wishing it away or agreeing “isn’t it awful?” You face it and you do the things you need to do to make it go away, never to return (yup-like cancer!).  You don’t race in a marathon without creating a plan and many short term goals to work up to achieving that goal. You don’t jump the high jump without starting lower. You raise the bar after you become successful at one level and you practice, practice, practice. Too many people believe bullying is too big a problem to be able to do anything about it. You’re taking on too big of a goal. You begin with yourself. Look within. What can YOU do to help stop bullying?  We have all learned that in order to reach our fitness goals, in order to break the old habits, we have to replace them with healthier habits which will help us get closer to, or achieve those goals. We know we can’t achieve these goals without actively practicing the daily habits required to achieve them.

Wake up! You don’t beat cancer by continuing the habits that feed the cancer! You don’t beat bullying by responding with more bullying, aggression, and violence! You beat it by becoming a Champion of Compassion, Caring, Courage, and Character. You beat bullying and violence through a commitment to strengthening your own skills at being more compassionate in your day to day lives and being a positive influence on others. You become the change. You look at what needs strengthening in you; look at what negative habits need to be phased out; determine ways to routinely practice these habits (at home, in the classroom, school-wide, or in the community), and you never give up. Keep raising the bar on compassion and develop the life-skills necessary to change the culture. Make history!

What are you waiting for? Get Compassion-Fit

Caring and Courageous Kids is now offering a pilot program for teen leadership, “Circles of Compassion” at Sutter Middle School, Folsom, CA.

We also offer a do-it-yourself elementary school program. Order the book "One Caring and Courageous Choice at a Time" which includes the children's educational DVD "Which Team Will You Choose?"  This is a great complement to any existing bullying prevention program in schools or a spark to get one going. It is a great way for families to practice skills together to become Champions of Bucket-filling!

Join our Humaniteam to inspire a more compassionate culture.

Dee DiGioia

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