Learning a Hard Lesson

In the hallway outside Grace's classroom is a wall of photos.  Each kid in 5th grade, holding up a piece of paper where they wrote how they were going to stop bullies in the school.

Grace's said "I will be a hero".  

So how exactly can you be a hero when it comes to bullying?  By standing up for those who are getting picked on.  By talking to people and telling them their actions are hurting over people. By reaching out to teachers/counselors/adults when things seem to be out of hand and they need to get involved.  

Everywhere you look these days are stories of kids who were bullied, who felt alone, and who sometimes act out their anger/resentment/sadness is very violent or sad ways.  Its all over the news and every story like that makes me so sad.  So when I saw Grace's picture comment, I got teary --- at the amazing-ness of her statement.  

What we aren't talking about is what happens to the kids who ARE standing up, who ARE trying to reach out, and who ARE calling people out when they are picking on someone.  

Grace was a hero and now.....she's the one paying the price.  Not the kid who was bullied or even the kid who was the bully.  She is the one left out of the birthday party invitations.  She is the one left out of the lunch table and group texts after school.  She is the one who is asked over and over "why did you do that?".  The kid who was doing the bullying --- that kid has everyone rallying around them because "(Grace) hurt her feelings and she got into trouble cause (Grace) told on her.  Why would you do that?!".

The lesson Grace has learned --- don't tell.  Don't say anything.  Don't get involved.  Because now, in her experience, when you stand up for someone and get the adults involved, you lose your friends.  

Is that really the lesson we want our kids to learn?  Why is the girl who stood up for someone the kid sitting in her house sobbing because her friends are mad at her while the kid who did the bullying is enjoying a sleepover birthday party --- a party for one of Grace's friends and one she was excluded from by this friend? 

Sometimes being the hero really sucks.  Even when it is the right thing to do.  Try explaining that to a 5th grader. 

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