I was invited to speak to an elementary school in northern California that had major issues with bullying. Bullying has gotten worse over the years, and many schools are at a loss knowing how to deal with this issue. I was a high school teacher myself, and understand the complexities and detriments bullying can have on everybody’s learning and social interactions.
Some bullying programs only focus on the fact that bullying is wrong. But knowing something is wrong doesn’t necessarily stop bad actions. One also needs to know why it is wrong. When I stepped foot upon this particular school I was determined to do my best at helping the kids see how bullying affects and hurts everyone – including the bullier.
When I entered the room I was immediately greeted by laughter from three kids. They were not laughing with me, but at me. The moment I started to speak their laughter got more intense. I immediately said, “I see that some of you are laughing at me.” I then scanned the room and looked directly at the kids that were laughing.
I then explained how if I saw them laughing at me when I was younger I would have been really hurt. Then I asked them blankly, “Do you want to hurt me?” Their laughter stopped. I then explained my story of why I’m in a wheelchair and how I value life and others – including them. Within 5 minutes all three of the kids, along with all of the other kids, began to cry.
At the end of my talk two of the three kids came up to me. They wanted me to know they were the ones laughing at me and they were extremely sorry. I embraced both of them and asked them to watch how they treated others from now on. They fully understood why I asked and eagerly said they would never hurt anyone again. This is why I speak.