Tuesday, November 19, 2013

A kind word

I was on a panel of authors who have written books about bullying, along with K.M. Walton and Allison Whittenberg, at the Lansdowne Public Library. We had a great discussion with a lot of audience participation.

One of the topics that came up was the many ways in which bullying can occur. It's not just the cliche of the big kid taking the smaller kid's lunch money; it's not just punching and shoving and name calling. There can be an online dimension to it. But there are also all kinds of social games that go on: selective inclusion and exclusion, shunning and isolation, elaborate alliances. Allison Whittenberg and some of the audience members had some hair-raising real-life examples. As social beings, we are very sensitive to the disapproval of others. Even those of us who are loners prefer voluntary solitude to enforced isolation and rejection.

One librarian said she tries to make the library a safe place, but given everything kids face today, she wonders if her efforts are any more than a drop in the bucket. K.M. Walton said, "Kindness matters," and also that the only way bullying ends is through the cultivation of empathy. I said that during the period when I was bullied the worst, a kind word could help carry me through a day. That librarian will help people, whether or not they ever tell her so.

No comments:

Post a Comment