This is a sponsored post.
So we are fully in the swing of the school year, and we have great news to report from the school front: Tori LOVES her new school. Every day when we pick her up, she fights going home.
Tori liked kindergarten at first too, of course. But the day she came home with her first “behavior note” – a whopping six days into the school year – she began shrinking into herself. By the end of the school year, she was miserable each day at school, and not simply because she was so tired of always getting into trouble: she was suffering from some mild bullying.
About three months before the end of the school year, one of Tori’s best school friends decided that Tori was persona non grata and ordered most of Tori’s friends to stop playing with her. You can imagine how this devastated Tori. Parenting in such a situation is so tough; there’s so little I can do as a parent, particularly since it didn’t involve what most people think of as “traditional” bullying; there were no threats, no name calling, no violence – just a simple removal of friendship.
I remember something similar happening to me in third grade; my two best friends, Jenny and Veronica, came to school one day and simply ignored me all day. I tried to speak to them and they pretended I wasn’t there. It was so fucking horrible – and worse, in fact, than the actual bullying I suffered (you know, getting beaten up and stuff). The next day they were back to normal, but I never trusted them fully again.
For Tori, those friendships never returned. She played with a few of the boys from her class, but none of the girls were her friends during the last three months at school. I don’t blame the teacher, either; with thirty kids in her class and no help, it would be impossible to monitor this particular brand of bully behavior, and honestly, how can a teacher force kids to be friends?
Nonetheless, this was a major factor in our deciding to move Tori to the Philadelphia Free School. I can already tell how different this school is for Tori; she comes home content and bubbly, and each day we arrive to pick her up she begs to not leave (after the first day when she called and asked to go home at noon; by the time we came to get her, she was wanting to stay). We’re very happy with our decision to have Tori in this school, and it’s great fun hanging out with the directors and other parents as the kids wind down the day playing outside.
But I wonder if even just one of Tori’s friends at the old school had stood up to the class queen bee and decided to stay friends with Tori no matter what, would we have pursued this other school so heartily? Would Tori have been so willing to abandon her first school?
I don’t know.
So the folks behind a great new app called Awesome Upstander! are sponsoring this post. The app is really interesting; instead of the more traditional programs addressing bullying that I’ve seen – most of which are simply awareness campaigns – it addresses the kids that WITNESS bullying, suggesting that they should “stand up” in defense of the bullied and make it clear that bullying is wrong and unacceptable. Here’s how they describe the app:
Awesome Upstander!, the ﬁrst-ever anti-bullying game for young kids, is the most funway to learn how to deal with bullies. Awesome Upstander! is a side-scrollingadventure where players must race through school cafeterias and bathrooms torescue a target from a bully. To successfully rescue the target, players must collectenough friends to become upstanders and stand up to the bully together. AwesomeUpstander! can be played for free at awesomeupstander.com, or downloaded in theApple App Store or Google Play for $0.99.
Before letting her play with the app, Tori and I talked about bullying for a while. When I asked her what it was she said, “It’s when people are super mean to you and hit you and give you wedgies!” I asked her if she thought what happened to her in kindergarten was bullying, and she thought about it a while, and said yes, she guessed it was. Then I asked her what she should do when she sees someone get bullied, and in typical kid enthusiasm said, “Tell them to stop it! Then tell an adult!” I told her that was called ‘standing up’ for someone, and then gave her my phone to play with the app.
I didn’t see her for over an hour.
The app isn’t super fancy; the illustrations are simple and the play just challenging enough to hold Tori’s interest. I think older kids might not find it as much fun as Tori did, but it is an excellent start in educating kids about this subject. Frankly, I think targeting kids Tori’s age is a really smart plan, and could really make a big difference in the future.
Take a look. It’s a great way to spend $.99!