Every day in the news we hear story after story of children being bullied. Bullying has become so bad that many children are committing suicide rather than take one more day of abuse – and yes bullying is abuse. As this New Year is upon us, we at KidSafe Foundation want to share with you about a special young teen, who once the target of bullying turned it around and is now on a mission to change the world and help others who are suffering from bullying and other personal challenges with her “positive pocket”. To fully understand who she is, what she created and why we feel she is a hero, we share with you below the letter we received from her parents 2 years after they all went through the KidSafe Program.
Meet Rebecca here is her story:
“My husband and I cannot express how KidSafe has impacted our entire family. It was almost 2 years ago that KidSafe held a parent-child night at my daughter’s elementary school. Having been a teacher for 18 years at the time, I didn’t know what to expect from a ‘KidSafe Family Event.’ Your presentation was shocking even to a seasoned teacher about the safety issues kids are faced with every day. ‘Prevention Education’ is what KidSafe calls their programs– which I wasn’t sure quite what that meant just yet. My husband and I went and learned about; empowering children to keep their bodies safe, empowering your children that they are in charge of their bodies, teaching our kids they have the right to be safe, the right to have a voice, the need for rules and guidelines for my children being on the Internet, the prevalence of bullying and cyber-bullying even in elementary school. Most important was learning how to talk with your children in a different way, to keep communication and dialogue open. This seminar was completely shocking, life changing, and provided a learning experience that unbeknownst to me I would NEED to use that very night.
That night our children, Rebecca, 10 and Hannah 6 participated in the children’s KidSafe workshop. After it was over, dialogue began immediately in the car in which both girls shared their drawings about their ‘Circle of Safe Adults’ (the trusted adults they would go to if they had a problem) Rebecca shared about situations she had witnessed in school where bullying took place. She also disclosed some very private concerns that she had finally felt comfortable enough to share with us. I remember KidSafe’s recommendations that when your child wants to share – no matter what they say (and how you want to respond) to keep a poker face, do not over react, don’t interrupt so as not to cut off communication, as it would encourage them to keep talking. KidSafe taught us to validate what our child was saying, without giving an opinion, and to always believe your child. We responded to our daughter – just the way we were taught, and guess what? It worked. That night was the beginning of a complete life change in our whole family dynamic.
Flash forward 1 year. Rebecca is now in Middle School and suddenly she became the target of a bully. She was bullied by an 8th grader, who was in one of her classes. Then, one morning outside the classroom at school in front of her peers and other students, Rebecca was ridiculed, demeaned and told not to tell anyone. This incident forced her to hold in her tears, get sick in the bathroom and have to spend the day with this on her shoulders, taking tests and later in the day, seeing this person again.
When I picked up Rebecca from school, she was quiet, and looked emotionally beaten. I asked her what was wrong and she said that although she was “not supposed to tell” she told me about the bully, because she had learned from KidSafe, that if anyone ever tells her not to tell and it makes her feel bad, confused or uncomfortable that she needs to go to an adult she trusts and tell. She feared she might be tattling but remembered how strongly KidSafe stated that whenever it comes to safety it is not tattling but REPORTING. She realized she needed to report.
For several days my husband and I attempted to build up her confidence, do positive activities to make her feel good about herself, but things did not change. Our attempts at school to address the issue didn’t prove as positive as we had hoped. A slight reprimand and parent notification, and the ‘bully’ was back in her class everyday as a student aid. Yes- Rebecca had to face her every day for the rest of the year and deal with some others due to the backlash.
Then came the ‘Positive Pocket.’ A few days after the incident, I picked up Rebecca from school. She seemed different; less tense. I asked her how her day was and she said, ‘It was a great day.’ I was shocked and confused. I asked her why and then she pulled out of her pants pocket, a piece of paper with positive affirmations and designs…she said, ‘Because I had my positive pocket with me.’ Rebecca explained that she was unable to sleep, felt bad about things so she went on her computer to type up some of these positive affirmations in the event she began to feel anxious or down on herself. She pulled out the paper in math class, and her teacher, asked her what she was holding. Her quick response was, ‘It’s my positive pocket…to keep good thoughts in my pocket wherever I go.’
The rest is history!!! Positive Pockets are now in schools, rehabilitation centers, hospitals, and are helping to make others feel good about themselves. Rebecca has a website where guests share about their experience with the Positive Pocket. She is making a difference and credits the KidSafe Foundation for giving her the tools to stand up for herself and have open lines of communication with my husband and I.
KidSafe has had an immense impact on our family and because of you, Rebecca is helping not only herself, but others. She has spoken out about bullying in several classes in her school and will be speaking at some other venues to address bullying. Thank you, thank you , thank you, for helping to make parents more knowledgeable, for helping to keep our children healthy, emotionally and physically and for keeping our Kids safe!!!”
Rebecca has taught us all that finding your voice, and becoming a more positive assertive person is an amazing way to improve your everyday life. (Many adults don’t figure this out until their forties). She has turned this negative bullying experience into a positive proactive mission! Of course having supportive adults in her life – her Circle of Safe Adults – is hugely important, as it is for all children. We thank Rebecca for sharing her inspiration and the skills she has learned in KidSafe with other children and adults. What Rebecca is doing with the Positive Pocket is making a difference, and that is what the world should be about. Each person learning and passing it on. To us at KidSafe Foundation, Rebecca is an inspiration, hero and future leader.
For more information about Rebecca and Positive Pocket please visit her website www.positivepocket.org