When we think of bullying among children we tend to focus on the
bully and his/her victim. We forget another set of participants in
the event. However, researchers have discovered that witnessing acts
of peer violence can be quite traumatic for kids. Jan De Kinder's Red
addresses this issue quite neatly.
The child protagonist of the book is on a playground with
friends. They discover that Tommy blushes. At first it's kids just
joking around. Then a boy named Paul takes it too far. When a
teacher asks what's going on our Everygirl is torn between desire to
tell and fear of Paul who is big and mean.
Red is a wonderful book to read aloud and discuss with
children. Giving them skills for when they see bullying is crucial.
Not only will not being trapped in passive witnessing leave them less
traumatized and more confident, but spaces without silence that can be
interpreted as approval are less conducive to bullying.
This, by the way, is as true with adults as with kids. With
adults, including those in very high places, bullying people they
perceive as other (i.e. transgender people, welfare recipients,
Muslims) the rest of us need to speak up against this injustice in any
way we can.
On a personal note, I was angry because Governor Paul LePage and Mary
Ellen Mayhew, head of DHHS, kept writing about individual (but never
corporate) welfare cheats being the biggest problem facing Maine. I
researched and wrote an op ed piece on the very real context in which
this occurs, one in which it's nearly impossible for the very poor to
play by the rules and survive.
A great big shout out goes out to the people who work full time to
help our most vulnerable citizens and enlighten the rest of us about
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