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Anti-Bullying Messages Resonate on Both Sides of the Pond

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My children's book, Ducks in a Row, has themes that encourage children to accept and respect others for their differences and to be confident as they express themselves in the world. It's gratifying to see the story of the #MacQuackens used as a resource in school anti-bullying programs. I'm heartened by the comments I've received from educators, who use the book to teach character development. I especially loved the encouraging words of the Superintendent of Chicago Catholic Schools, Sister Mary Paul McCaughey, who said, in part: " this book is a reminder to us that kindness is really the highest form of getting our ducks in a row."

During an author visit, I always ask the children: "What do the #MacQuackens teach us?" I've had many thoughtful as well as entertaining responses. My favorite, one that gave me a real heart charge, came from an enthusiastic second grader named Mark, who jumped up from his seat and exclaimed: "The #MacQuackens teach us to spread kindness wherever we go!"

USA: A Former Bully and His Victim Create an Anti-Bullying club

When a second grade boy brought a Barbie Doll to school, Cameron recruited his friends to tease and torment the child. Teachers saw the bullying and reported the abuse to Cameron's mother. The boy's mother helped her child to really understand the pain he had caused his classmate, which prompted Cameron to say, "I became ashamed of how I acted, and I felt bad for the boy." He not only apologized to his victim; the two boys became friends and have partnered to form an anti-bullying club at their California elementary school.Kudos to these observant, quick acting teachers and the good parenting of Cameron's mom! Watch this three-minute video with your kids:

Shame on Grownup Bullies

In a related story, one without any semblance of common sense or compassion demonstrated by adults; nine-year-old Grayson was ridiculed by an entire student body for bringing his My Little Pony backpack to school. One must wonder about the administration of his North Carolina elementary school, which actually told the boy he could no longer bring the inappropriate backpack to school because it "set him up for bullying" and was "causing a disruption. "Really? Wow! So, let me get this straight; Grayson's choice of a backpack was the problem? In not standing up for young Grayson, the adults in this situation- specifically the school principal and school counselor, put forth a message: bullying is acceptable and the mean-spirited behavior by his schoolmates was Grayson's fault because he carried the "wrong" backpack to school. What a missed opportunity to speak out against bullying and build acceptance and empathy among their students. Such ignorance! Still, this heartless behavior has at least brought additional attention to the monumental problem of bullying. But, let's get back to the uplifting actions of kind ducks!

Britain: Bars and Melody are "Hopeful"

During a recent Britain's Got Talent show, two young Brits, Leondre, 13 and Charles 15, who call themselves Bars and Melody, were embraced by audiences and judges alike with their stirring and heartbreaking anti-bullying rap. The song tells the story of the incessant bullying Leondre endured throughout grade school. There was not a dry eye in theater; the performance even brought tears to the eyes of the ordinarily stoic Simon Cowell. (Lyrics appear at the end of the blog.)

The performance went viral and has struck a nerve worldwide, as more than 30 million people (and counting) have watched it on YouTube. No stranger to bullying, Ellen DeGeneres, well known for her kindness and compassion for others, brought the boys across the pond to appear on her show, further promoting their powerful message. Following is Ellen's interview with the boys and their wonderful performance.

In closing this week, I'll leave you with the wise words of my second grade friend Mark: Let's "spread kindness wherever we go!"

Word Scramble

sensdink drspae

Hint: Wherever we go, let's do this!


Anti-bullying resources:

http://www.stopbullying.gov
http://www.bullying.co.uk/


Hopeful lyrics:

Note: I wasn't familiar with the word skint, which is included in the song. I looked it up and found the following:
Skint (Adjective)
British - informal
Having little or no money available. "I'm a bit skint just now."


Please help me God, I feel so alone. I'm just a kid; I can't do it on my own. I've cried so many tears writing this song. Trying to fit in. Where do I belong?

I wake up every day, I don't wanna leave my home My momma's asking me why I'm always alone. Too scared to say, too scared to holla I'm walking to school with sweat around my colla. I'm just a kid, I don't want no stress.My nerves are bad; my life's a mess. The names they call me hurt real bad.I want tell my mom; she's having trouble with my Dad.

I feel so threat, there's nowhere to turn. Come to school, don't wanna fight; I wanna learn.

So please, Mr. Bully, tell me what I've done. You know I have no Dad. I'm living with my mum.

Chorus

Cuz I'm hopeful, yes I am, hopeful for today. Take this music and use it; Let it take you away and be hopeful, hopeful and he'll make a way. I know it ain't easy but that's okay. Just be hopeful.

Why do you trip at the end of the day? I didn't ask to be born, now I have to pay. I ain't got no money, take all I have. When I give it to you, you search through my bags. I feel so skint when you shot me down. You pick me, push me, throw me to the ground. When I asked you again, Yo, what have I done? You hit me again and make fun of my mum.

Chorus

Cuz I'm hopeful, yes, I am, hopeful for today. Take this music and use it; Let it take you away. I know it ain't easy, but that's okay. Just be hopeful.

What I wear is all I have. We lost our home. I'm living from a bag. Yo Mr. Bully, help me please. I'm flesh and blood; accept me please. Hey, Mr. Bully I don't know what to do. My mind can't explain what I done to you. Mr. Bully take in all my pleas and you see the day you bring me to my knees.

Chorus

Cuz I'm hopeful, yes I am hopeful for today. Take this music and use it; Let it take you away and be hopeful, hopeful and he'll make a way.I know it ain't easy but that's okay. Just be hopeful. Hopeful.

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