Let it Begin With Me: Preventing Bullying and Teaching Inclusion

By Ana Borden

School has started once again. Another year of growing and learning. And just like the previous years, before the start of our children’s first day of school, I will remind them to introduce themselves and make their new classroom friends feel welcomed while helping them transition into their new environment. We also will reach out to their parents and welcome them to our school community.

Small acts of kindness that include reaching out to new members in your own community is an important part of keeping not only children but adults feeling welcomed.

During a time in our culture were individuals are seeking reinforcement via social media and attention through acts of violence, it is even more so important that we are teaching younger generations to be accepting and inclusive as well as reminding our and older generations of the same.

A feeling of distance and exclusion is hard to ignore, and it is human nature to respond. Some will thrive while others will suffer in silence or use actions to respond. Signs of exclusion are dealt by some with quietness, turning to academics, hobbies, talents and humor, while others choose to make poor decisions or act out with physical force or words.

But what about those who are causing the action? Are they choosing to exclude because of fear, the unknown, lack of education or knowledge or even jealousy? And, do they realize that actions are learned and that they are teaching their children to also be excluders?

Exclusion comes in many ways from gossiping, to mocking, to negative body language and taunting. And bullying does not stereotype any age, gender, ethnicity, faith or community.

So, in the upcoming weeks of the new school year, I challenge each of us to introduce ourselves to new faces and even reintroduce ourselves to familiar ones as a sign of peace, respect and support.

Let’s take the time to shake hands, share a smile, ask about summer adventures or if we can help a new student and/or parent during a new chapter in their lives.

Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me, are lyrics to remember.

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