According to Nicole Gordon Levine of Beautystat.com, 48% of young adults age 17-22 experience or witness bullying at school or at work. Levine approves of Secret deodorant’s campaign, “Mean Stinks!”
I reflected upon this and reviewed a lesson plan that I created in October 2002. My ninth graders were given the scenario, “What if you were being harassed at school? What could you do? Who could you tell?”
The English department gave me freedom to include critical thinking and life lessons into my literature and composition class. That year we were studying, Great Expectations. At the time, the local news could not be ignored. Students were victims of hate speech and bullying if they looked like Arab Americans or Muslims. Many of my students were Sikhs. I wanted to be sensitive to problems that all students might be facing. I wanted my English class to help students become more analytical thinkers and clear communicators. Though Pip from Great Expectations did not have a social support system and had to struggle with bullies like Miss Havisham and Estella by himself, I wanted to make sure the ninth graders knew that they had options in their daily life at the school. I taught them the word, mitigate.
Why would I begin a home lighting guide with an anecdote about school bullying? Because many parents find early warning signs that their child is depressed when their child begins to withdraw and stay in the dark of their bedroom. My suggestion as a former youth counselor, classroom teacher and current home lighting copywriter is to–make your child’s room a welcoming, uplifting place through lighting. No, I do not mean flip on glaring lights to interrogate. I recommend a gentle parenting approach with subtle lighting. I mean, consider installing wall lights are attached to a dimmer switch. I’m opposed to only having a fluorescent ceiling light and a table lamp that doesn’t dim. Floor lamps can give the room an unhealthy hospital room appearance if it is an uplight and the sole source of light in the room. Layer lighting. I’d suggest floor lamps with table trays and reading task light attachments. Why? So you can set a box of tissues on the tray and ask your child’s permission to sit with them if they are hurting from a bad day at school. Parents have good instincts. Sometimes if you don’t have advice to impart, just sitting with him or her can make a world of difference.
In 2002, my ninth graders answered in the following ways. They said that first they would tell their trusted friends. Then if their friends couldn’t help them they would tell their parents. One student wrote that he was confident that he could trust his parents because parents are there to protect their children. I asked my classroom of thinkers to go farther, “What if your parents wanted to help but did not have the language skills to tell your teacher?” Many of my students’ parents did not speak English. Many of the parents owned ethnic restaurants or worked in business offices that were enclaves. When asked to mitigate, my students answered that they would speak to their teacher and if the teacher was distracted or did not take action to protect them that they would speak with the principal. Good idea! This was the funny part, though. Some students said they would approach the principal because he or she is not that busy. But they got the following part right–that the principal is there to uphold the policies of the school and bullying was against policy.
So in summary, install an older child’s night light of sorts by including dimmable wall sconces or a floor lamp with table tray and reading light. Secondly, go with your instincts. If you feel your child is unhappy at school, you are right. Be gentle, listen, and empower your kid to use critical thinking and clear communication to mitigate.
My students have graduated college now and gone into the workworld. According to statistics, they might face bullying again at the office. I am confident that they are prepared and equipped with the right skills to advocate for themselves. I also approve of Secret’s “Mean Stinks!” campaign in 2011. As an adult, I recommend Mean Girls: Facing Your Beauty Turned Beast by Hayley DiMarco.