“We don’t want you to be our friend and you can’t play with us anymore”, were the cruel words hurled at me by a group of girls at school. As their snickering and laughter followed, any sense of value and confidence I had as a 10 year old was completely torn down
The sad reality is that as I work in schools more than a decade on, there are still many young people being bullied and rejected. The effects are huge as their self-esteem gets battered and their dreams and potential threatened.
Current statistics show that 160,000 young people stay home from school each day because of bullying. Sadly, 29% of this bullying happened in school hallways with lots of bystanders around.
Friday 20 March 2015 is the fifth National Day of Action against Bullying and Violence. It is an annual day that provides a focus for all Australian schools to strengthen the message with their students that bullying and violence is not okay.
Every young person deserves the freedom to find a safe place to learn, have fun and be themselves at school. Bullying robs them of this freedom leaving them feeling trapped, abandoned and alone.
As The String Movement Coordinator with CityCare, I have the privilege of seeing one of my passions fulfilled, seeing the power of bullying disarmed with kindness.
This year The String Movement is taking the message of ‘Be Kind’ into schools by rallying and empowering students to create ‘Home in the Hallways’ where they can all feel safe. We use a strengths based approach by encouraging peer involvement and working with them to build community.
This prevents social isolation that is often caused by bullying and encourages young people to be the change by gathering together to enjoy life, make friends and build lasting and healthy relationships.
We need to teach young people how to find a safe place. A place free from the opinions of others, free to be who they are, free to learn, free to express their ideas and free to dream and create.
Students need a place where they can find hope and be united with other young people who make the stand to say Bullying. No Way!
The String Movement