‘How can I continue to teach kids compassion when they no longer see it from adults?’ | Opinion | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

‘How can I continue to teach kids compassion when they no longer see it from adults?’

How can I continue to teach kids compassion when they don't always see it from adults?

It’s been seven years now that I have traveled the mid-Atlantic region of America spreading a pro-kindness/anti-bully message. I have been to schools, churches, community centers, libraries, AARP meetings … You name it, I’ve been there.

It’s been a dream job getting to do something that I deeply believe in while helping others along the way.

The main points of the pro-kindness movement are tenets that I practice in my own life. I think that’s why this has been such a good fit for me because I truly believe in everything I promote.

I promote advocating for yourself if you are being threatened by a bully. I promote self-love because I truly feel that if you love yourself, you can overcome the cruelty of others. And if you love yourself, you won’t become a bully.

One of the practices I cover is inclusion. If you see someone sitting alone at lunch or recess, walk over and ask if you can hang out with them.

A lot of schools now have “Buddy Benches.”  The idea of the bench is that if anyone is lonely they can sit on the bench and when someone sees them they can come over, sit with them, and be their buddy. It’s a pretty awesome concept.

There is also a lot of emphasis on welcoming new students to the school. Most schools have a “first week of school buddy” who shadows the new kids to make them feel more welcome. In my program, I offer conversation starters to help make new friends.

Finally, we talk about the role of the bystander. We tell kids that if you see something, say something. We remind the students to look out for one another.

I started this column questioning whether my efforts would accomplish anything when our country’s leaders are putting kids in detainment centers that aren’t fit for animals, let alone kids.

These are children who are not being included or welcomed. Sure, there are lawyers attempting to advocate on their behalf, but there are no buddy benches for these kids. They are surrounded by a nation of bystanders.

It seems impossible to teach compassion to kids on a local level when they witness zero compassion from our country on a national and international level.

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