Dec 29, 2016

During the year 2016 I have observed that many schools are putting together programs that encourage acceptance of diversity. This is a very good sign because one of the key reasons for bullying is that someone is perceived as being different in some way. That’s why in many of my presentations I make the point that it’s okay to be different and that it’s our differences that make us strong.

In these presentations I focus on the fact that ability to accept differences in people and to promote unbiased positive interactions are key ingredients for overall success for students and for all of us as a society. It is not a difficult concept – if on a regular basis a child is concerned about having to deal with negative issues/events/incidents because he or she is perceived to be ‘different’, it is simply not possible for the child to focus on important academic and social aspects of school life. All school staff, students, and parents need to have a common goal – to maintain a safe environment for all children. The parents share this task when the children are not at school. Their combined effectiveness determines the longer term negative or positive impact for the children.

When we talk about a safe environment in schools we must include discussions about creating and maintaining an atmosphere where ALL children can feel free to be themselves and learn most effectively at their own pace. It should be an environment where no children will feel the need to wonder if he or she is different from others and what that would mean. If all school staff, students, and parents can work together to develop a culture where differences in people are accepted as a normal way of life, then all children will be able to attain a strong emotional health and it will have a long lasting positive impact. On the other hand, if a child has to face negative environment on a regular basis because he or she is perceived as being ‘different’, it can lead to long lasting negative impact far beyond the school years.

© 2017 - Sumi Mukherjee
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