Published on June 29th, 2017 | by Thomas Brenton0
Children’s Book Busts Bullying
In yesteryear, bullying was merely seen as an unfortunate right of passage that many had to endure and rise above. However, today, peer aggression in schools has risen steeply, not only in the U.S., but around the globe, and it unfurls in many cultures with undeniably debilitating effects.
Bullying creates a imbalance of power, and the psychological torment that victims feel is real. Such antisocial behavior, whether overt (physical acts) or covert (isolation, spreading rumors and cyber bullying) often result in symptoms which may include depression, anxiety, physical ailments, suicidal thoughts, academic difficulties, truancy, and in more severe cases, students carrying weapons and taking drugs.
It has become increasingly apparent that the act of bullying rapidly sends shockwaves far wider than the incident itself. The involvement in bullying not only heavily taxes the recipient of the aggressive behavior, but also their families, witnesses, the school and society at large.
Wendy M. Craig, Yossi Harel et al. (2001) conducted a study of 163,000 young students across 35 countries, including the U.S., and maintains, “Children who bully or are victimized generate lifelong costs because they become involved in multiple systems such as mental health services, juvenile justice, special education and social services,” and that interrupting this pattern of behavior is a critical issue.
Furthermore, longitudinal research indicates that childhood bullying is associated with antisocial behavior in adulthood such as criminality and limited opportunities to attain socially desired objectives such as stable employment and long-term relationships.
It is generally agreed upon within the scientific community that early interventions implemented in schools may reduce such challenges when children are consistently taught the art of compassion and the importance of accountability during their most impressionable, formative years.
Noko’s Culture Of Compassion Campaign, developed by South African-born educator and children’s author Eleni Theodorou, is based on her globally celebrated tale Noko The Knight, and delves deeply and effectively into the thorny topic of intentionally hurtful behavior. Her educational, colorfully creative program is rooted in the school of positive psychology, encouraging young attendees to cultivate what is best within themselves and enhance their experiences of love, work and play. Theodorou delivers her interactive anti-bullying program at elementary schools across the country with a solutions-focused approach, empowering the students she meets.
Coupled with thought-provoking questions, students are offered a fitting hands-on experience with porcupine quills, demonstrating the piercing impact our actions may have on another, later contrasted with the soft touch of a feather. Here, students are taught cognitive flexibility and are empathetically enlightened that we do indeed have the power of choice. Throughout her energizing program, students eagerly chant, “Yes, I am a knight! I choose to do what’s right!” further reinforcing her message of compassion.
Feedback volunteered by schools that have welcomed Noko’s Culture Of Compassion Campaign confirm students that had attended Theodorou’s program report a deeper understanding of how their actions affect another and consistently display efforts to respond thoughtfully in a pro-social, inclusive manner. Moreover, the accompanying lesson plan ties in effectively with a character development program many schools adopt.
As Theodorou continues to share her potent message, she maintains that storytelling and imitation (role modeling) are two powerful practices that offer valuable teachable moments and opportunities to open communication with our children. They have an inborn capacity for compassion, and it is our duty to collectively take proactive measures and cultivate creative ways to reinforce the values of kindness, respect and integrity.