Posts Tagged ‘ teaching tolerance ’

Actress Marlo Thomas Speaking Out Against Bullying

Thursday, May 26th, 2011

marlo-thomas-freetobeMarlo Thomas, the actress and activist behind the “Free to Be…You and Me” movement that helped kids to be proud of their individual personalities and culturally diverse personalities, is speaking out against bullying.

Kevin Jacobsen, the father of a bullied teen, inspired Thomas when he wrote to her.  Jacobsen had started a website, KindnessAboveMalice.org, in honor of his 14-year-old son, Kameron, who committed suicide in 2010 as a result of the bullying.  In an article for the Huffington Post, Thomas urges parents to be more aware and involved in their children’s lives.  After speaking to Kevin Jennings, the assistant deputy secretary at the Department of Education, the actress shares how certain questions can help parents determine if their child is being bullied:

  • Does your child not want to ride the school bus any more?
  • Does your child often wake in the morning complaining about stomach aches and asking to stay home from school?
  • Are your child’s friends not coming around so much any more?
  • Has your child stopped receiving invitations to parties?

The most important and helpful thing parents can do is initiate conversations about bullying, especially since most kids are ashamed and embarrassed to tell their parents.  Instead of letting kids handle the bullying alone, parents need to step in and support them through every crisis and to continue carrying the “Free to Be” message of acceptance and tolerance.

Read more about bullying on Parents.com

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Christmas vs. Hanukkah, Round 1

Monday, October 25th, 2010

HanukkahThanks to the PBS show Caillou, my daughter, who is almost 4, knows all about Christmas–about Santa, Christmas trees, presents, and caroling.  Thanks to my wife and me and some quick counter programming on our part, Adira also knows all about Hanukkah, about the candles and presents and foods. She also knows that we don’t celebrate Christmas but her babysitter does, and that Santa is pretend, for everyone and not just us.

And so it begins. Thanks a lot, Caillou. I was entirely unprepared for a DVD from the library called “Winter Wonders” featuring an otherwise bland, bald kid (whose name is not Charlie Brown) to bring Christmas into our home. In  October, no less. But that’s parenting. We don’t get to choose the timing.

I am not squeamish about differences and diversity.  I’m the observant Jew who studied religious pluralism at a divinity school, and who’s written about everything from Hare Krishnas to Mormons to evangelicals.  The last thing I want is to bring my daughter up in a world where she thinks everyone behaves and believes as we do, or looks down on those who don’t. Well… maybe that’s the second-to-last thing I want–the very last being bringing her up in a world where she doesn’t understand, appreciate, and love our own tradition and heritage, and in which she is jealous or angry that we don’t do as others do. (more…)

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