Some things seem to change from one moment to the next — popular slang, wind direction, what social media platforms kids are on. Our grandparents paid a nickel for an ice-cold soda pop, our parents paid 50 cents, and we’ll pay a $1.50.
Other things stay the same. Dictators hunger for power; music can move us; and trees grow tall when they have room to do so. And one more: there have always been bullies.
Like many children, I was bullied. It started when I was young, and went right up through to high school. Call it wishful thinking, but I’d like to think that these days there is far more vigilance and action taken to prevent bullying than when I was a child.
Here at the library, we’re happy to join in the fight against bullying by launching our brand-new anti-bullying kits. Like our anti-racism kits (which have been so popular you have to get on a waitlist to borrow one) these will contain an assortment of books on bullying, in addition to a fun board game and lots of information for parents. The kit has been put together to help parents who fear their children are being bullied — as well as those parents who fear their children might be bullies, or even bystanders.
The books that are included in the kit have been selected to appeal to a variety of ages — from picture books for the youngest, all the way up to chapter books for tweens. We also have included two books to help parents: The Bully, the Bullied, and the Not-So-Innocent Bystander (Barbara Coloroso) and Bullied: What Every Parent, Teacher, and Kid Needs to Know About Ending the Cycle of Fear (Carrie Goldman).
Although this anti-bullying kit is specifically aimed at families, we know it’s not just children who bully each other. Adults bully each other, especially at work and on social media. You’d be hard-pressed to find a Facebook post or Twitter thread that doesn’t contain some foray into bullying.
Want to see it get really bad? Wade into any social media content that is political. Or better yet, any content that’s related to a certain global pandemic.
For those adults who wish to curb their bullying tendencies, we offer you a simple cure: read more fiction! That’s right — studies have shown that reading fiction increases people’s empathy and compassion. It’s not a cure-all, but every little bit helps.
In these difficult times, it is more important than ever that we all show kindness to each other. Whether it be in person or online, whether you’re an adult or a child, we all need to treat each other compassionately.
When I was bullied as a child, I sought refuge in the safest place I could think of: the school library. Now, I’m happy to be a part of a library that wants to do its part to help fight against bullying in our community.
Avi Silberstein is the Children’s Librarian at the Nelson Public Library. Check This Out runs every other week. If you’re interested in learning more about library programs and services, sign up for our monthly newsletter on our website or by giving us a call.