With May upon us, we focus at BCS on our next habit of empathy from Michelle Borba’s book Unselfie: Why Empathetic Kids Success in Our All-About-Me World. This month’s focus is that empathetic people Stick their Necks Out. In her book, Borba says that empathetic people have the “moral courage” to stick their necks out and become “active bystanders, better known as “upstanders”. Bystanders stand by and passively observe or witness any acts of unkindness to others. We need to teach our students, even ourselves, strategies to stand up actively. In her book, Borba shares some strategies to positively S.T.A.N.D. U.P.:
- S – seek support
- T – tell a trusted adult
- A – assist the victim
- N – negate with positivity
- D – detour
- U – use a distraction
- P – pause and rethink
In helping students nurture this habit of sticking their necks out, we need to explicitly teach what each of these strategies look like and sound like. For many middle school and high school students telling an adult is taboo. We have to help students realized they have a moral obligation to help create a safe environment for each of us who have the privilege to be part of the community in which we find ourselves. Telling a trusted adult is not “ratting out” a classmate; rather, it is getting help to further support the safety and well-being of those in our community. If a student just won’t report, there are still other strategies to demonstrate this moral courage. A student can be an upstander with another strategy such as assisting the victim, detouring or simply using a distraction. These do not require reporting; the taboo for many older students.
So what happens when we become upstanders? Here are the research-based outcomes. Upstanding…
- reduces the audience that a bully craves
- mobilizes the compassion of witnesses to step in and stop the bullying
- supports the victim and reduces the trauma
- is a positive influence in curbing a bullying episode
- encourages other students to support a school climate of caring
- encourages reporting a bullying incident since 85 percent of time bullying occurs an adult is not present. Students are usually the witnesses.
In short, “When bystanders intervene correctly, studies find they can cut bullying more than half the time and within 10 seconds (Pepler and Craig, 2005).
If that is not enough to demonstrate the benefits. “Sticking your neck out and nurturing this habit, as Borba contends, helps our students find their “inner hero.” What can we do to help nurture the inner hero of our children?
- Expect social responsibility
- Set the example: model it.
- Offer Heros: Harrry Potter, Huck Finn, Nelson Mandella, Little Engine that could.
- Stop Rescuing : We do not build confidence when we rescue.
- Try small scale courage.
Above all, always encourage, and help children live the mantra of Muhatma Ghandi, “be the change you want to see in the world.”
Be the Change – It is done everyday, let’s just make it larger scale! Show this below video to your students and children to help them find their inner hero. “Kindness begins with you!”