Kids Making a Difference: Anti-Bullying
Suicide continues to be one of the leading causes of death in children 16 and under and according to statistics at the Yale School of Medicine , there is a strong connection between bullying and suicide affecting between 9 and 54 percent of children.
With these staggering statistics in mind, many adults are making an effort at turning the tide on the bullying epidemic with things like: The BULLY Project, inspired by the movie, “BULLY,” a national movement that is “transforming kids’ lives and changing a culture of bullying into one of empathy and action.” and government-based movements like Stopbullying.gov which offers many resources and explains what bullying is, who is at risk, how to prevent it, how to respond to it and where to get help. The NoBullChallenge is a social action organization that offers teens and young adults the opportunity to promote digital responsibility, leadership and social change using creativity, the power of peer-to-peer education, and the magic of filmmaking. There is even an app designed to put the power of anti-bullying in your hand. Parents can get KnowBullying, the free app from SAMHSA that is intended to help prevent bullying.
All of these efforts and the hundreds more intended to help protect our kids are invaluable resources, but today we’re going to look at some of the anti-bullying projects started by the kids themselves.
Kids Making a Difference
Some remarkable children and young adults are working hard to bring the issue of bullying to light, and make a difference in other kids’ lives:
Jaylen Arnold was teased at school for his Tourette’s Syndrome. The 8-year-old started a campaign called Jaylen’s Challenge to stop school bullying. He accepts donations and sells anti-bullying wristbands that fund educational programs focused on helping teachers tackle the problem and teaching students about tolerance. He even has celebrity and sports fans who support his efforts.
Vanessa Van Dyke, 13, a native of Florida, was teased because she wore her hair “natural.” The stigma of being different today has become more of a challenge than ever before and peer pressure among children often makes a child feel less than they are when they don’t follow the trends. Inspired to do something to help others with hair like hers, Vanessa started a natural hair care line with products for girls that highlight and strengthen naturally coily, curly, wavy, and kinky textured hair. Vanessa’s website is Vanessa’s Essence where you can purchase her hair products there. The Company’s goal is to encourage young girls to love themselves and be who they are naturally.
Brigitte Berman’s motto is “Let’s change the world one life at a time.” When she was 13, Brigitte considered taking her own life due to the amount of bullying she was facing at school. Instead, she sent a questionnaire and survey out across the country, learning that she was one of many who were not only suffering from bullying, but also did not feel they had adequate tools to address harassment and bullying issues. At 14, she decided to write the novel Dorie Witt: A Guide to Surviving Bullies. Brigitte is dedicated to working with students, educators and legislators to create safe learning environments for students in schools. Brigitte is an author, speaker and at 16, became the youngest person ever to participate in a NASA mission. Her website is brigitteberman.com.
You can help your own children navigate this serious social issue by listening more and really paying attention to what you see going on in their lives. As parents, we can help develop and grow our children’s self-esteem: the number one most effective anti-bullying effort available. By teaching them to speak up and not to be afraid to let someone know if they are being bullied and sharing the examples of these three young visionaries we can also help inspire our kids and remind them that they are not alone – that adults and their peers alike are looking out for them.