I like silence. I enjoy the few hours that I finally get every day while my seedlings are in school. Silence is beautiful. I beg my children at least once a day, to just be silent for a few minutes and allow me to collect my thoughts. Silence is essential at times. There are times, however, when silent is the last thing I want my kids to be.
Last week, my friends over at Piggies & Paws did a anti-bullying week on their Facebook page. It was on their page that I saw the video that nearly ripped my heart to shreds. (You can see it by clicking this link.) I realized as I watched a father plead with an auditorium of young kids to take a stand against bullying, that I have not one enough to educate my own kids on the seriousness of bullying. Then I realized that it happens right here in our own home. My kids do it to each other. And if my kids do it to each other, why wouldn’t they do it to others? So we had a long talk on Saturday.
We watched the video on Ryan Halligan’s tragic story. My kids grew somber. We talked about what bullying is. They realized that it happens all the time. We talked about the three people involved in bullying. The bully, the bullied and the bystander. My kids looked shocked and were speechless to learn that they themselves have been a guilty party in bullying just by being a bystander. Then we talked about how to make a change.
We pledged to stand up against bullying. We pledged to use our words not as weapons but as tools to build each other up. We promised to stand up for ourselves, not engage in bullying and most of all not to be silent. To me, the bystander is an accessory to a crime. They see it happen, they know it is wrong, but do not do anything. It is wrong. And someday, it could be too late. Silence is beautiful and essential, but it can also be deadly.
We made signs to hang in our rooms as a daily reminder of our promises made to help end bullying. I truly hope that my kids will never have to feel like Ryan Halligan, never make somebody feel that way and never stand by and silently watch it happen. It is too late for Ryan, but not for some other kid out there who still has a chance to be stood up for.