George Lucas Educational Foundation
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It's been a long time since I was in elementary school. But I can remember it like it was yesterday.

I wasn't the cutest, skinniest or best-dressed girl. I wasn't even a popular girl, but I had an advantage; I could sing like "nobody's business," and my teachers loved that about me. As a result, I think I was spared the bullying that could've come from classmates due to my lack of the aforementioned qualities.

Times were tough in the late '60s. Maybe not as bad as what some call the "mean-girl phenom," experienced now by many, but it was there. So I think the fact that my classmates knew how much my teachers liked me may have spared me from their belittling.

Not true for all girls in my class.

I'll never forget one who was not spared the pain, the hurt and the bullying. She was easy prey: short, overweight and not very attractive. Most days she pretended to be tough and take the bullying in stride, even though I saw the tears that were privately shed.

I did my best to defend her when I could. But my actions were rare. Most of the girls in our class -- and boys, too -- were relentless in their pursuit of pain, the kind of pain that was inflicted mostly through name-calling, taunting and ridicule. This was especially true at recess time, when teachers were not easily accessible, or when they deemed it to be "child's play." We were only 10 or 11 years old at the time, but the hurtful actions projected by some classmates against this girl were alarming. No child should have to experience this kind of bullying, and yet, sadly, it happens every day, even at our best schools.

The Kind Campaign

Recently, I ran across a post about the Kind Campaign and their film, Finding Kind, and I knew that I had to share it. It struck a chord in my memory of the hurt my classmate endured and came back to haunt me.

Take a minute to watch an excerpt of this moving film:

In Finding Kind, filmmakers Lauren Parsekian and Molly Thompson, who met while in school at Pepperdine University, set out in a cross-country journey of discovery and education. Interviewing women and girls along the way about their lives and experiences, Parsekian and Thompson find, among all of the unique personal stories, some universal truths about growing up as girls.

Finding Kind is a document of that journey, and of the filmmakers' quest to take these experiences and find a common ground of kindness and mutual respect.

In addition to all of the individual girls and women who share their personal experiences about girl-on-girl bullying, Parsekian and Thompson include interviews with respected experts and authors in the fields of psychology, education and the interrelationships of women and girls.

It's clear that the Kind Campaign is taking their message to the streets and sharing it across the world, and I believe that educators should do the same.

Eight Steps Toward a Kinder World

As a new teacher preparing to enter the classroom, or as an experienced one, you're going to encounter potentially volatile situations between students on any given day. That said, you should be prepared to work through it with your students, prepared to support the teaching of kindness which, for many students, will be just as important as any other content area you teach them.

Let's look at a few ways we can support teaching kindness:

  1. Take part in the Random Acts of Kindness Week, February 11-17, 2013.
  2. Immerse yourself daily in modeling the teaching of kindness in your classroom and school site.
  3. Find resources for your students that can promote the work of kindness in their lives at school.
  4. Get students involved in creating lessons on the subject and incorporate journal writing, video production and podcasting in delivering the "kindness" lesson.
  5. Check out what indie film makers Lauren Parsekian and Molly Thompson are doing to take the mission of kindness to schools across the U.S.
  6. Schedule a screening of Finding Kind in your own school or neighborhood.
  7. Watch and share this video on The Kindness School that's inspiring students and their communities.
  8. Do everything you can to be a warrior of kindness with your students!

What are you doing to teach kindness? What strategies do you have in place to de-escalate the issues when they hit? How will you protect the students in your care from gossip or bullying? What do you still need help with? Leave us a comment, and let us know!

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Renee's picture

What an inspiring post! I am currently involved in a PLC in my school that is focusing on Character Education. We recently had a group of local athletes come in to present about the prevention of bullying and it was well-received. I look forward to being able to preview the film "Finding Kind" and presenting it to my group of colleagues to see if this is something that they would be interested in presenting the student body. I would also be interested in talking to them about Kindness Week this week. Again, thank you for this timely posting, as students today have so many issues to deal with, many of which have to do with peers who are not nice to each other.

momstoryteller's picture
mom and author of children's books that help build character

So often for us girls, it's our own friends who do cruel things each other. One girl perceives a slight, and the only thing the other can think to do is retaliate. After watching my daughters struggle with this, I wrote a book for elementary age girls about rising above hurt feelings and dealing with the issues, without causing more hurt. Check it out at

Cathryn Hudson's picture
Cathryn Hudson
Project manager, Conscious Dimensions LLC.

Children today, as did we, learn their ABC's, but what about learning about themselves and then how they interact with others. Would another child step up to the bully and protect bullied?
Conscious Dimensions LLC. is dedicated to making a difference in the world, by educating as many as possible about the life-transforming power of conscious awakening, to live a life of whole-hearted receptivity and compassion for self and others for the continuation of all life. We feel this can be done through technology, entertainment and education.
Our group is in the process of getting support. Little bit of an uphill climb. But older folks go to corporations and more often than not get trained in Meyers Briggs or DISC. Why are we not helping students to find out about themselves as students?

Would love to hear thoughts on this from teachers! And by the way, I am practiced in consciousness, but continue to learn, and really learn from the materials created for these games!

Kohl's picture

Although bullying may be more prevalent between girls it is also important to remember that more and more boys are also being bullied. It is a problem that young people have to face whether they are the bully, victim or bystander. It is important to note that the percentage of young people committing suicide is rising and that should not be accepted by society.

Bullying is a sad thing. It is great when people take a stand against bullying, but it should happen every time that bullying behaviors are seen. Teachers are mandated reporters therefore should be reporting when it happens at school because bullying can be classified as verbal or physical abuse. At home parents need to play a larger part in monitoring what their kids do online and if an issue were to ever arise, talk about it, and give appropriate consequences. Kids should hold each other accountable as well, not feed into negative pressure, and stand up against bullying.

Nicole's picture

What an inspiring video and blog post. As a new teacher, I had several incidents involving girls and bullying during the year that I felt I was unprepared for. It's not exactly the type of topic you take a college course on. I was horrified to hear some of the stories, and often times I had girls confide in me about the terrible things that were being said or done to them. There wasn't much I could do, other than refer them to the guidance counselors. I am looking at this as something I can do this year as a preventative measure. I feel like this would really hit home and start the year off on a good note. It would set my expectations from day one, and promote kindness in my classroom and hopefully beyond. Thanks for posting!

DonML's picture
Eastern Oregon University Business Administration Student

It has been a long time since I was in elementary school as well. I was not really the most popular guy, but I did find my place. I was athletic and was very competitive kid in elementary school. I did notice the cliques and popular groups demeaning kids for being different even back then. There was a boy in my 6th grade class named Ryan. He was poorly dressed, had bad hygiene, was very ill-mannered, and he was black. He lashed out a lot at people, but he was constantly being bullied. I tried my best to get people to stop bullying him because it was very clear how racist they were being. It didn't always work, but I think I did my part to limit the bullying.

I ended up running into Ryan at Fred Meyer a few years later. We got to chatting about the past and how people treated him so terribly that he began to take drugs. He was not doing so well. I decided to be friends with him and show him that drugs are not worth it. Soon after, he started on a road to quitting drugs and making himself a better person. It was not long after that I started up some retail businesses and gave Ryan a job. I eventually moved him up to a supervisor position which really helped shape his life today. I haven't seen him in a while, but from my understanding, he is doing quite well.

I think that everyone should reach out and give people a chance. Kindness is a wonderful thing!

brooke's picture

This article hit me in a way where i experienced something different growing up. I was born deaf. I went to a public school full of hearing people and they were nice to me. They learned sign language and were able to communicate with me. I always thought i was lucky growing up because i have never dealt with that kind of stuff. Because usually people who are different deal with the harsh bullying. I have to be grateful for what didnt happen to me but i have always hate seeing other people oppressing women, weird how that was a bigger issue than me being deaf. I am involved in some organizations. We just have to keep spreading kindness and awareness to educate others. Make a wave is all we have to do to stop this. People will follow society and we are society. WE can change by starting together.

Cathryn Hudson's picture
Cathryn Hudson
Project manager, Conscious Dimensions LLC.

Brooke, love your post. My team is working on games that help people to know themselves and others. We just released a game that showcases the 1st of 9 characters. His name is Ramthor. So far, the comments have been how scary he is, however, if one digs deep, works to understand his personality, they will see a very different character. Rage and fear, give into vulnerability.

Ann Duckworth's picture
Ann Duckworth
I am a teacher who loves to help students continually improve their lives

As a teacher, I try to model much kindness, humor, care, and goodness to all of my students. I also use my own form of management I call my quiet Canter variation. I will put checks on the board for less than good behavior and if at the end of a time an hour or so, I provide a reinforcer for those who do not have four checks. This enables me to model much more kindness, care, mildness, and support for my students without the usual vocals that are not pleasing. This also enables me to have much more control over the treatment of students in the classroom, playground, lunchroom, and the hallway. This really helps in preventing bullying. - When a student is taunted by another student, the offending student not only loses their reinforcer, the offended student receives that reinforcer.
As for boys, we need not go along with the idea boys should be strong. The belief boys should be strong is allowing much more aggressive and less supportive treatment for boys by parents, teachers, and peers. We need to tell parents, teachers, and students that this belief is not only creating higher average layers of stress (layers of average stress are maintained by the mind, not just some situational problems) but also more defensiveness, preparation for defense, social/emotional distance, and much detriment to thinking, learning, motivation, and yes, much less kindness and care for others due to much continued adverse modeling from everyone. We as teachers all to often are the guilty of this next to many parents and peers.

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