When our oldest daughter left her small and innocent world of preschool and entered kindergarten, my partner and I were excited for her. She is independent, curious, and outgoing. She was ready for the adventures waiting for her. But my partner and I shared one very real fear that neither one of us can always prevent: bullying.
Kids can be so amazingly kind and forgiving, but some can be a child’s worst nightmare. A perfect example of this can be seen in a viral video of Tennessee boy Keaton Jones as he talks to his mother about the other students who bully him at lunch.
Through tears, he wants to know why people find joy in being mean to other people. He explains that the kids make fun of how he looks. They tell him he doesn’t have any friends. They dump milk on him and throw bread at him.
“It’s not okay,” Jones says with frustration and sadness. “People that are different don’t need to be criticized about it.”
No, bullying is not okay. It’s never okay to tear someone down for amusement, whether they are different or not. Breaking someone’s spirit and confidence is about more than hurt feelings. It’s about self-worth and the belief that we all deserve happiness and success.
In an effort to raise awareness and end bullying, PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center has joined forces with Omaze and R.J. Palacio’s children’s book turned movie, Wonder.
Wonder tells the story of fifth grader Auggie who is about to enter a mainstream school for the first time. He has had 27 surgeries to help him breathe, see, and hear. He has facial differences and people notice. Auggie is terrified. Will kids be mean to him or will they be kind?
With the help of Omaze — an organization that uses influencers, brands, and do-gooders to benefit humanity and charities around the world — everyone can choose kindness with their Choose Kind campaign.
Julia Roberts; Jacob Tremblay, who plays Auggie; and the cast of Wonder are wearing Choose Kind t-shirts because it is a message they believe in and one they want others to live by. While kindness doesn’t cost a thing, proceeds from these $25 shirts will go to PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center and will be used to make the world a kinder place.
PACER’s website indicates that one in five kids will be bullied this year, and that is just the number of kids who report being a victim. The website is an endless supply of resources, stories, and information on ways to combat all forms of bullying.
Right now, one way to help kids like Auggie and Keaton Jones and so many others is to purchase a Choose Kind t-shirt and help spread this important message and fund the projects working to prevent bullying.
When I send my kids into the world every day, I remind them to be kind. I also say a little prayer to no one in particular that others are kind to them. No matter our differences, this simple concept can make the world of difference to so many people.