Anderson Cooper should get a Tangled Ball Award for putting so much effort into trying to untangle the complicated mess of bullying through his series this week: Bullying: It Stops Here. He is definitely a Be the One Go-To Adult.
If you missed the televised town hall meeting that he hosted on CNN from Rutgers last night, tune in to AC360 for the next 5 nights as he, along with expert guests, shave away at this tangled up problem affecting the emotional and physical health of so many kids.
Rosalind Wiseman, Dr. Phil, Lee Hirsch of The Bully Project and even mom and celebrity Kelly Ripa and Jane Lynch were on hand but clearly, the stand out experts last night were the kids and clearly the stand out message was “Listen.”
Bullying is such a huge issue. There are three strings in this knotted mess that I would like to address: Early prevention, parenting and the role of the bystander (or a better term — upstander.)
We need to start young. Waiting until middle school is too late. Even waiting until middle school to encourage kids to talk to a trusted adult is often too late. They’re self-conscious at that age and it helps if they’ve established trusted relationships with adults they can talk to before they have an issue.
• We need to encourage young parents to prepare their kids for school and then set the expectation with their children that they need to be treated well and they need to treat others well.
• We need to bridge the gap between the school and home. What’s wrong with having mandatory school-wide meetings at the beginning of the year to discuss the school’s expectations when it comes to bullying? Often it’s only addressed after a problem arises.
• As they get older, we need to know how to respond when they come to us with a problem.
Money, time and effort have to be spent creating school climates where you feel like the outsider if you treat others poorly. Train kids how to — and expect them to — step up. Make them feel good that they have that power. (There are plenty of great organizations that help with school climate. The National School Climate Center is one.)
There are dozens of other tangled strings and I hope some are going to be discussed this week on AC360. On my wish list is the role of media. Literally, our kids are surrounded by mean.
Tonight Rachel Simmons will be on talking about the role of the counselor. Tune in.
What would you like to see addressed?