An Upstander before the Upstanders
My 14-year old is in his first year of high school. Because of the work I do with and for teens, he gets a bit more bombarded with the messages I try to impart because he hears and reads my “stuff” – as he calls it – so regularly. He knows and, thanks in part to a recent issue with a hacked Facebook account, has a solid understanding of the impact that choices made in a heartbeat can have in the future. My husband and I have both seen the change in him over the past year or so as he has started to truly take on responsibility for his actions and, just as important, his reactions.
Despite the anti-bullying movements and Safe Schools programs in the school boards, Nathan attends a high school where physical fighting occurs between students on a regular basis. This occurs on the school yard, where students gather to watch, cheer and take sides, and it seems the teachers and administrators turn a blind eye.
Late in September, Nathan arrived home and told me some kids in the hallway invited him to go outside with them to watch a fight. As I held my breath waiting for the rest of the story, Nathan explained that he told the students no, and explained to them that he didn’t agree with fighting, so he refused to pretend that he did by going to watch.
I think I squeezed him so tight when I hugged him that I made him cough. And he told me that he simply thought about it, and knew in that moment he had an important choice to make.
Before he took The Pledge (which he now has done, along with the rest of our family) and before the related Upstanders movement, Nathan stood up. He wasn’t ashamed or afraid to do the right thing.
Can’t we all do the same? If we did, we could effectively end bullying. Now.