A Lesson In Bullying From Ryan White
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A Lesson In Bullying From Ryan White

What my campers learned from Ryan White and the people who bullied him.

A Lesson In Bullying From Ryan White
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Last week, I took my campers to "The Power of Children" exhibit at The Children's Museum of Indianapolis. This extraordinary exhibit focuses on three incredible children who changed the world through their words, actions, and voice: Anne Frank, Ruby Bridges, and Ryan White.

I was nervous to take my campers to this exhibit; it's not an easy exhibit to visit no matter how old you are. However, my campers were excellent. They were respectful and asked intriguing questions, but perhaps the most surprising question they asked me was when we were standing in front of a replica of Ryan White's locker at school, covered in cruel words that spread hatred. One of my campers asked me, "Miss Sam, why would someone ever do something like that?"

I wish I could've given her a better answer other than, "some people don't understand that being different isn't a bad thing, and some people are simply mean." My campers seemed to accept that answer, however, I wanted to add something else to that answer.

I wanted to ask how the rude words on the locker were different than the mean words they say to each other in camp or behind each others' backs. Except I can't. I can't make that connection for them, no matter how much I want to. I can't force that connection on them.

I can hope that maybe I sparked a train of thought about bullying, but I realize that in the case of many of my campers, nothing will change despite how moved they were by the overall exhibit and how upset they were when they learned about people being treated cruelly because they were sick, or Jewish, or black.

I think this has been the most difficult thing for me to learn as I go through college in preparation to hopefully teach my own classroom one day. You can't force connections, no matter how important they are. People have to make the connections themselves if you want them to be impactful.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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