During a camping trip, Marie and Jessica were hiking in a trail when they saw a big black bear. Marie started to take off her backpack. Jessica whispered, “What are you going to do?”
Marie answered, “I’m going to run for it.”
“You can’t outrun a bear,” Jessica replied.
Marie just looked at her friend and said, “I don’t have to outrun the bear. I just have to outrun you.”
Sadly, this self-centered “look-out-for-number-one” mentality is common in today’s society, even on a lot of school campuses.
Everywhere, basically good people engage in — and justify — selfish, short-sighted conduct that treats classmates, teammates and even their so-called friends as competitors rather than comrades.
A very different vision is suggested by a story about nine youngsters in the Special Olympics (The Special Olympics are for children and adults with intellectual disabilities)*.
Right after the start of a race, a young boy stumbled badly and fell down. A girl just ahead of him noticed and turned around to help him up. As the other runners saw this, one by one they all went back to help their fallen comrade. Then, all nine linked arms and triumphantly ran together to the finish line.
When I think of the bullying problems at most schools in relation to this story I realize how powerful it is when kids, like the first girl to help the fallen runner, see a problem and take it on themselves to deal with it.
Teachers, parents and other adults can make rules and try to enforce them, but the only way school is going to be a safe place is if the majority of students stand together, united in a commitment to create a culture of caring where students like you support, help and protect classmates who are the victims of mean and nasty conduct.
It’s your choice – run together arm in arm or keep trying to outrun each other.
Story Adapted from Michael Josephson http://josephsoninstitute.org/
Mary Lien, Character Education & Prevention Coordinator