I have an 8 year old “American Girl” doll and movie series fan in my home, and today she showed me the “Pledge to take a stand” campaign against bullying on the 2009 American Girl of the Year website.

Anti-Bullying Campaign: American Girl of the Year 2009 website

After clicking the link, click “Take the pledge” and then click on your home state:

Select your state (American Girl Take A Stand Against Bullying)

You are then prompted to enter your name, and click “I Pledge” at the bottom:

Enter your name to take the anti-bullying pledge

After taking the pledge and seeing some “stop the bullying” animated notes, users can print their certificate and also email friends they know about the campaign:

Help stop the bullying

Users are not required to disclose personal information. A first name works fine for the pledge, and an email address is NOT required.

Pledge to SHINE and help stop bullying

The acronym SHINE in the American Girl anti-bullying pledge stands for:

  1. Stand up to put-downs,
  2. Help those who are being bullied,
  3. Inform adults when I need to,
  4. Never use my computer or cell phone to hurt others,
  5. Encourage my friends to stand up against bullying, too.

The pledge closes with the statements:

I promise to stand strong, speak out, and be a good friend. I will let my inner star SHINE.

I know Sarah was attuned to this because of a conversation we had about bullying and cyberbullying earlier this week. When I had my laptop connected to the computer one day before school, I showed my kids the “Hero in the Hallway” video, which had been on my mind since I posted about it recently. My own children had never seen this video before, and it led to some good discussion about what we can do about bullying.

I’m delighted Sarah was interested in taking this anti-bullying pledge on her own today, and it led to more conversations about how we can stand up for ourselves and our friends when we face bullies. Bullies are everywhere, unfortunately, and they are not something we are generally able to completely escape when we leave school. We have to learn to deal with bullies. Watching a single video or taking a web-based pledge will not, by themselves, likely make much of a difference in a child’s perceptions about bullying and how to respond to them. They can, however, be important elements in an ongoing conversation and dialog about respect, ethics, courage, and friendship.

If you have young girls in your home or classroom, consider showing them this American Girl anti-bullying site. The site also includes a good set of suggestions, links and resources for parents and teachers which can help catalyze anti-bullying dialog. These include:

  1. Review advice from experts and recommended reading.
  2. Watch the Chrissa movie with girls, and use the discussion questions to open up a conversation about how bullying affects them.
  3. Sit down together to explore activities for girls that empower them at home, at school, and at play.
  4. Find more activities in the Stand Together, Stop the Bullying school curriculum. We developed the curriculum in partnership with The Ophelia Project, an organization dedicated to helping schools create safe social climates. Review the curriculum and pass it on to teachers and schools in your area.

I also recommend checking out The Ophelia Project, which:

serves youth and adults who are affected by relational and other non-physical forms of aggression by providing them with a unique combination of tools, strategies and solutions. To achieve long-term systemic change, we help build capabilities to measurably reduce aggression and promote a positive, productive environment for all. We are dedicated to creating safe social climates.

There are lots of great resources about relational aggression on the Ophelia Project website as well, AND that site is not focused primarily on selling dolls, movies, etc. as the American Girl website is as a for-profit website and organization. (You can have a good media literacy discussion with your children and students about that.)

My 8 year old reported that she and a friend recently saw the movie “Chrissa Stands Strong” when she spent the night, and they picked it out from the movie choices at a nearby BlockBuster. I’m impressed they made such a positive movie choice.

For more resources relating to bullying and cyberbullying prevention, see my wiki page for the presentation “Proactive Approaches to Address Cyberbullying and Digital Social Networking.”

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  • Pat

    You are so right that there are “bullies everywhere.” When we were in a national park last year, we pulled halfway into a parking space when this woman ran in front of our car and told us to stop. She wanted that parking space and wanted us to back out so she could have it. We were so far in the space, that people could go past us in the aisle so we were shocked. She was so adamant that she brought her two small children and had them sit right in front of the bumper of the car! Fearing the car would lurch and hit the children, I made my husband turn the car off immediately and we sat there. The lady said she would stay there forever until we backed out and let her husband park their car there! I saw this as bullying tactics and refused to move. I can’t imagine what her children were learning by seeing her behavior. They will probably grow up thinking this behavior is okay because their mom does it. We need to stand up to bullies like this and not let them get away with it. Unfortunately I felt embarrassed by this whole scene (which I shouldn’t have but I did)and that sometimes keeps people from standing up to bullies. Eventually she and the kids got tired of being there and finally walked away about ten minutes later. As you mentioned, bullies are everywhere and come in all sizes! I’m glad to see young people start taking a stand.

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