Written by Rhonda Lee Thomas, President, DTWT’s Board of Directors
Bullying is an issue very close to the heart of both Do The Write Thing (DTWT) cofounders, Loretta (LoLo) Smith, and myself, Rhonda Lee Thomas.
LoLo, a former teacher, saw firsthand the detrimental effects that being bullied had on child victims, including her own great nieces. They were bullied so badly that their mother withdrew them from a Missouri public school in January 2019 and sent them to DC so LoLo could homeschool them. Instead, LoLo enrolled them in a DC Public School where the principal had established a safe and warm environment for all students. The girls appear in one of DTWT’s kindness/antibullying books along with some of the friends they made in DC.
I faced bullying, racism, and other types of hatred and abuse early in life, growing up in the 1950s in South Dakota, where people of color were scarce. As a lifetime human rights activist, I always speak up against injustice on social media and through kindness/antibullying projects.
Unfortunately for humankind, in 2017, 20% of students age 12-18, reported being bullied at school according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Of students ages 12-18, about 13 percent reported being the subject of rumors; 13 percent reported being made fun of, called names, or insulted; 5 percent reported being pushed, shoved, tripped or spit on; and 5 percent reported being excluded from activities on purpose. Parents, guardians, other teachers, and youth must help to develop strategies to handle bullying, which has serious consequences.
DTWT addresses the issue of bullying by teaching children to be kind to one another. We can change the world with one act of kindness at a time! We observed National Bullying Prevention Month in October by focusing our attention on solutions to the critical problem of bullying. As we do every year, DTWT kicked off our month‑long antibullying activities on the first Monday of October. For example, LoLo and I encourage our youth to perform ten acts of kindness during this month.
We also produce kindness/antibullying books, posters, and other materials with our students. Our personalized books feature DC Public School children dressed in superhero costumes; after all, we are superheroes who fight bullying with kindness! One six-year old girl loved her book so much that she slept with it under her pillow, ate with it at breakfast, and brought it to school every day! Our books are available for public consumption on Amazon, including the following titles:
- Ten Acts of Kindness;
- My American Girl Doll and Me: Superheroes Fighting Bullying with Kindness;
- Superheroes Fight Bullying with Kindness.
This year, on October 5th, World Day of Bullying Prevention (also called Blue Shirt Day), DTWT students at Plummer Elementary School signed No-Bullying Pledges and posted them on their customized No‑Bullying Pledge Wall:
DTWT’s NO-BULLYING PLEDGE
- I pledge to stop bullying my siblings at home.
- I pledge to stop bullying my classmates at school.
- I pledge to stop bullying my classmates on the playground.
- I pledge to stop bullying on the Internet.
- I pledge to tell an adult when I see someone being bullied.
- I pledge to say no to bullying like a superhero.
DTWT’s efforts to prevent bullying won’t stop tomorrow on October 31st when National Bullying Prevention Month ends. DTWT continues its bullying prevention efforts throughout the school year. DTWT has developed a unique Kindness Project that we implement year-round at elementary schools. The Kindness Project includes:
- Personalization of a book about kindness
- Independent readers recording the text of the book to create CDs
- A kindness pledge
- Friendship songs
- Group writing stories about kindness
- Reading books about friendship and kindness from a recommended list compiled by the DC Public Library, such as “The Giving Tree,” by Shel Silverstein
- Creating posters with kindness slogans and transferring slogans onto tee shirts and other clothing. Advanced students have the opportunity to walk the runway in a fashion presentation that features girls and dolls in matching clothing with kindness slogans.
This year, Plummer Elementary School students will stage the anti-bullying musical, Corduroy: A Bear In Search of Acceptance and Friendship, during the December holiday season. The musical explores the issues of bullying and the importance of friendship.
DTWT is proud to continue promoting kindness among children during Bullying Prevention Month and year-round!
Visit DTWT’s page at the Catalogue For Philanthropy website.