School districts in the United States are implementing a very powerful anti-bullying program called “Rachel’s Challenge” — a tribute to Rachel Scott, the first student shot in the Columbine disaster. Some schools in Forsyth, North Carolina, for example, have taken on this challenge. As Fox news is reporting:
“The program, which left students speechless and emotional Wednesday at Glenn High School, mixes Rachel’s words and personal photos with words written by Ann Frank and Martin Luther King. The basic message is simple: be kind and look for the best in people. The challenge, however, is to start chain reactions of kindness with others.”
While some students will dismiss this type of program as too emotional or for sissies, it is a very positive way to get individuals to look at a whole person — be it the bullies or the victims. Questions that could stimulate debate might be:
- Why is someone bullying other students they see as weak?
- What is behind their bullying?
- Is their bullying a reaction to something going on in their own lives?
- Are bullies insecure or do they have a mental illness or undiagnosed disability?
In other words, why do some young people find it necessary to belittle and hurt others? Whatever is the case, as a society, we have to get to the bottom of those reasons because far too many victims of bullying are dying to escape its clutches (e.g., Ottawa’s Jamie Hubley).
Yes, there have always been bullies and there always will be to some extent. Now, however, there is social media and the permanence of things written and posted on the Internet. Rachel’s challenge is, therefore, applicable to all of us and which in many ways expands on “random acts of kindness” principles.