I had a chance this week to attend a presentation on Rachel's Challenge. The challenge is based on the life of Rachel Scott, one of 13 victims killed in the shootings at Columbine High School in 1999. I was nearly brought to tears as Darrell Scott, Rachel's father, talked about his daughter's dream.
Scott shared passages from his daughter's diaries.
"She said, "I want to start a chain reaction of kindness that will ripple around the world.' And today that's become a reality," he said.
The cornerstone of Rachel's Challenge is to encourage young people to show one another kindness and compassion. And, while it doesn't call itself an anti-bullying program - it is certainly aimed at creating kinder, gentler school environments to counter the culture which encourages bullying.
On Thursday of this week, President Obama and the First Lady will be hosting an online discussion about the growing push to stop bullying. The White House Conference on Bullying Prevention will be aired live on the White House website from 9a - 10a PST. Experts will be available to answer questions on the subject, however in order to submit questions you must first RSVP for the "Facebook Live" chat.
Bullying is an issue we've talked about before in this blog. When I wrote about the subject in November I hadn't yet seen statistics from the state on just how pervasive the issue of bullying is in Washington.
According to the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, nearly every district reported an incident of bullying in the 2008/2009 school year (the most recent year for which statistics have been compiled). I was most surprised to find that the Spokane District, with only 29,000 students, had the greatest number of suspensions for bullying (at 1,238), while the largest district in the state, Seattle, (with more than 45,000 students), only suspended 294 students for bullying. That leaves one wondering if there were fewer instances of bullying in Seattle or if the district is just more tolerant of the behavior.
Bullying affects not only the person being bullied, but the students around them. Statistics detail the harmful impact bullying has on academic performance. As parents, we know that children don't always like to talk about instances when they are teased or are being picked on. When I wrote about the subject previously I shared a website that can help provide clues to look for in helping determine if your child is the victim of bullying.
KING 5 has also partnered with Rachel's Challenge. We've set up a Facebook page so that you can join in the discussion.