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Teaching My Kids to Stand Up for the Underdog

05/09/2013 12:41 EDT | Updated 07/09/2013 05:12 EDT
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Stop Bullying

As I sit here, almost seven months pregnant, just starting to really wrap my head around the upcoming birth of my second child this summer, I'm faced with thinking about what the future holds for generations to come. More specifically, for my children. Much of the recent news concerning young people taking their own lives, specifically the case of Rehtaeh Parsons, have really made my entire being angry, sad and scared. And I don't feel that these cases, especially this one, was a case of bullying, in my opinion. She was the victim of illegal behaviour -- a crime.

Bullying has become a word that almost feels "trendy" to use. But in my younger years, bullying was a clique of girls who all decided at the same time that they didn't like you any more and would start a campaign to make fun of your name, your hair, your clothes. It hurt your feelings (it certainly hurt mine), but it wasn't plastered all over the Internet (with photos -- horrifying) for the world to see. Or what you believe the world could see.

I fear for my children, especially my daughter, (find out why here). I don't want either of my children to be the "mean" kids, but I don't want them to be pushovers either. I want to teach them to do the right thing -- always. But with the layers of social media, experimentation with sex and drugs earlier than ever before, and the apparent lack of support from our justice system, how can I make sure they are safe?

There is no way, really, but I do know that I can instil moral values in them that I believe in and can teach them right from wrong. Stand up for the underdog. Speak up when there is injustice. Believe in karma. Don't leave your girlfriend drunk with a group of boys because you're jealous she is getting all the attention. It's not likely the kind of attention she meant to receive and you could save her from embarrassment, from harassment, from rape; you could save her life.

I lost a baby one year ago this week due to a miscarriage. The baby's heart stopped beating. The doctor's don't know why -- it just happens sometimes. The pain my husband and I went through was far more than I could have ever imagined. I sobbed for days and couldn't get out of bed. I mourned for a child I didn't know yet, but who lived in my body for three months and had started to become a part of me. I went through the motions and the doctors and moved on... and now I am lucky enough to be given another chance. All I can pray for is a healthy child. The rest is my responsibility -- for a long time. I can't imagine the hurt, the indescribable pain of parents who have lost their children. The ones who are gone forever, the ones who lose themselves on their journeys and also the ones who have disappointed their parents in unimaginable ways, by committing immoral acts against others.

It is up to us as parents to give our children the love, smarts, confidence and support to make the right choices in their lives and do the right thing. Don't become a bully as a child, and don't become one as an adult. It's wrong to make people feel badly and you are a bad person if you do that. Plain and simple. Treat people the same way you want to be treated.

Even if you don't have a child, there are children around you watching your choices every day. I had the pleasure of working with Morgan Freeman recently. He talked about teaching children very young. Don't wait for them to grow, start teaching them at two years old. If they can learn any new language, learn how to walk -- are we maybe underestimating what they can do? It resonated with me. These children will be the adults that run our world when we get older, the ones that take care of us and set our values.

Let's try collectively to teach our children well. It's all I can hope for.

Canadian Bullying Victims