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Training Our Children to be Heroes

The latest victim of bullying, Ashlynn Conner

This morning I read this story about a 10 year old girl in Illinois who committed suicide because of the never ending bullying that she endured. Stories like this make me weep. We live in a fallen and broken society in need of healing.

As I was thinking about this situation, I came to the conclusion that we need to train our children to be heroes. My guess is that some of our children aren’t the ones who are bullies. But they are the ones who watch children like Ashlynn being bullied. As we learned from the horrendous evil that happened at Penn State, sins of omission allow evil to flourish. When we see evil happen around us, we must speak up so that acts of evil will not continue to happen.

The summer before my sophomore year of high school our family moved from a small town in Indiana to the suburbs of Denver. I experienced first hand what it is like to walk into a crowded cafeteria and not know anyone. There were many days that I ate by myself and felt very alone. This experience put me in the shoes of those who are alienated and alone. I was driven to reach out to them and stop those who intentionally alienated and bullied others.

My senior year I personally witnessed one of my friends be bullied and harassed on the track team and in gym glass. Finally one day I had had enough. In the locker room, while this big lacrosse player lit into my friend, a switch flipped inside of me and I looked this bully right in the face and yelled at him. You might not know this but at this point I weighed about 145 pounds and was the skinniest runner on the track team. The bully was so surprised that this little skinny runner would tell him to stop that he didn’t know what to say and walked out of the room. It was the last time he ever messed with my friend in front of me.

How do we raise our children to be the ones who will stand up to bullies in their schools? I don’t have any specific answers yet but I believe that the answer lies not with the bullies but with the kids who are watching the bullying but don’t jump in to stop them. There are millions of children like Ashlynn out there who need a hero to step up and confront the bullies. May our children be the heroes that they need.