We all want to raise kids that are brave in the face of bullying. We can teach them to speak up when things are unfair, but how do they know how to stand up for people who are being picked on? What would your kids do if their friends and classmates were being bullied and discriminated against for their culture or the color of their skin? Here’s how we as parents can help them speak out against bullying and discrimination.
Talk about discrimination, even if it’s uncomfortable
When you aren’t personally affected by discrimination, it’s easy to ignore it and never talk about it. Sometimes, talking about it can even feel uncomfortable or impolite. But if we don’t talk about it, that allows bad people to do more and more harmful things. Talking as a family about the harm that discrimination causes sets your kids up to know when discrimination is happening around them.
Help your kids see from others’ perspectives
When talking about race and discrimination, it’s important to help your kids walk in another person’s shoes. Even if they’ve never been discriminated against, they can still imagine how they would feel if someone was hateful toward them for something they cannot help, like the color of their eyes or hair. When they understand how discrimination hurts people in those ways, they can see it better in situations where another child may be experiencing it, and know to seek help.
Standing up for what’s right, together
As you discuss how discrimination hurts people, encourage your kids to speak up whenever they see others making mean jokes. Not every kid is tough enough to stand up to a bully to their face, though. That’s why your kids should know that you are in their corner when something is happening that they know is wrong. If they don’t feel safe enough to confront a classmate or friend for being unfair to someone because of their race, or, if the bully is an authority figure like a teacher, it’s ok for you as a parent to step in and let your kid’s voice be heard through you. You may choose to reach out to the families who are being discriminated against, and even express your concerns to the school or organization directly.
When you know that racial discrimination is happening, it’s important to show up as an ally for those who are experiencing it. Without speaking over them or dictating what they need to do, offer your help and assistance with holding schools and organizations accountable for discriminatory actions. The issue of racial discrimination won’t be solved just by kids standing up to schoolyard bullies, but one at a time, we can unite with our friends and neighbors against discrimination in all parts of our lives.