The Role of Compassion in Stopping Bullying
My heart is heavy after reading this story about Ashlynn Conner, a 10-year old child who hung herself. According to her parents, Ashlynn was relentlessly bullied in school.
I always wonder about the bully and what motivates someone to be relentlessly cruel. I ache for kids like Ashlynn who are hopeless, and see no light at the end of the tunnel. And I think about all of the other kids in her world who knew about the aggression she was facing.
Even having written a book on the subject, I don’t pretend to have any simple answers about how to stop bullying. It’s a complicated problem and intervention has to occur on multiple levels. That’s jargon for: we’ve got a LOT of work to do! What I do know, though, is that fostering compassion is one of the most important missing links when it comes to creating a climate in which bullying becomes unacceptable.
In this recent HuffingtonPost article, I wrote about 7 ways that parents and nurturing adults can help kids become more compassionate. I think it’s a mistake to assume that kids are either compassionate or they’re not. Big hearts can be nurtured and compassionate kids hold a critically important key in creating cultures where bullying is not tolerated.
Whenever I talk with groups of kids about bullying, I share this mantra: It is never OK to do nothing about bullying. I have kids repeat the phrase. I encourage them to shout it. Sometimes, we see if the whole building can hear us! I want kids to remember this truism.
Today, after reading Ashlynn’s story, another set of words–this time from Albert Einstein–are echoing in my head:
“The world is a dangerous place not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing.”