Respect's vision of education emphasizes the role of schools as places where
children can practice managing their emotions, handling conflict, and standing
up to ridicule and bullying. As a parent, you know how traumatic these experiences
It is important that parents and communities are full partners in the changes
we are all trying to make in our children's schools. You can play an important
advocacy role in the development and implementation of Operation Respect's
Children today struggle with the influence of the glamorization
of violenc and the increase of ridicule and bullying in our society. As ridicule-free
classrooms provide an opportunity for young people to experience the bonding
they need for healthy development in a school setting, ridicule-free homes can
complement and support this experience. As parents and caregivers, we have a
critical role to play in reinforcing these lessons of the heart at home.
Where there is peace in the family, children grow up with more immunity to at-risk
behaviors related to violence and discrimination. When parents and schools become
partners in modeling these skills, children have an even greater chance of witnessing
positive examples and learning how to handle themselves in a variety of circumstances.
All children suffer when issues of ridicule and prejudice are not dealt with
openly. There are some practical things to remember that will help your children
grow up ridicule-free. The following are some strategies and ideas to keep in
• Make it clear that resorting to violence, which includes ridicule and
bullying, is not acceptable to you, at home, at school, or in the neighborhood.
Your child needs to know how you feel and that you care.
• Develop open, honest communication with your child. Talk about a variety
of events and concerns. A child who knows you will listen will be more willing
to share things that are troubling, especially if he or she is being bullied.
• Teach by example. Settle disagreements with positive words, not put-downs
or threats. Foster respect for differences and make it okay for children to agree
to disagree. Admit your own prejudices and avoid jokes and other expressions
that stereotype or ridicule people.
• Take action when either children or adults show prejudice, instead of
ignoring it or indicating approval in any way. Let young people see you act on
your unbiased beliefs.
• Openly acknowledge not only that each person is a unique individual,
but also that he or she is a member of a group, and that there is good and bad
in every group.
• Help young people to think through how to handle possible problems -
peer pressure, finding or seeing suspicious things, intervening in a bullying
situation, etc. - before there's a need.
• Use common courtesy. It helps ease tensions that can lead to violence.
Teach children that good manners are important.
• Support school programs such as Don't Laugh at Me that train students
and staff in conflict management, problem-solving and related skills. Request
trainings specifically for parents to educate yourself and other families. Enlist
students in identifying violence and problems around bullying and ridicule at
school and assist them in designing projects to address them.
• Work to set up extended-day programs so that students have safe places
to go and positive things to do outside school hours.
• Ensure that the school has consistent discipline policies that are firmly
and fairly enforced, as well as a response plan for emergencies.