When I think back on my elementary and middle school years, I have a lot of fond memories of female friendship, from camping as a Brownie Scout to watching movie marathons at sleepovers. But there are also several instances that, to this day, make my cheeks burn in shame: not befriending a girl my first grade class had ostracized, using the (then) newfound power of the internet to mock a classmate, and hurling words at my sister that I knew would hurt the most. While in a literal sense, I knew better than to do those things, I didn't fully comprehend the pain I caused, and similarly, I don't think girls that gave me grief understood the power of their words and actions either.
The Kind Campaign hopes to bring some awareness to this issue of "girl-on-girl crime," the name-calling, rumor-starting, and threat-making behavior girls these days have to deal with. The campaign is a nonprofit movement with a documentary and school assembly program that has a simple but powerful goal: encourage girls to be kinder to each other.
The initiative was launched in 2009 by Lauren Paul (wife of Breaking Bad star Aaron Paul) and Molly Thompson, Pepperdine University film grads who were both victims of girl-on-girl bullying. Since the program's inception, the women have visited over 450 schools to screen the documentary and spread the KIND message, and this year, they are offering their program to Title 1 schools for free.
What's interesting to me about the Kind Campaign is that it doesn't condemn "mean girls." The campaign site has a forum where girls share stories of painful experiences, apologize for hurting others, and pledge to end female bullying. The feature gives all girls, who have likely played both the role of aggressor and victim at some point, an opportunity to realize they're not alone and to repent for an experience that has caused a guilty conscience.
Parents can share the campaign's message with their kids by introducing them to the campaign website's forum and Kind Cards (online messages of thanks to others). To spread the message to your local community, you can host a screening of the Finding Kind documentary, request a program visit to your child's school, and encourage the formation of girls' Kind Clubs.
Back to School: Dealing With Meanness and Bullying
Image: Girls sitting together (Shutterstock)