Learning the value of creating compassionate connections

“Some kids are bullies, some are victims.”

“Kids will be kids”

“Ehh they’ll grow out of it”

Growing up, many of us have been exposed to clichés that explain behavior amongst children regarding school violence, and sadly quite a few people have accepted these sentiments as truths that are to be accepted without question. Coming in to Notre Dame, I also accepted the idea that children acted a certain way and that attempts to try to change this behavior would ultimately prove to be futile.  I have been very fortunate to volunteer with the Take Ten program, and learn through first- hand experience that I have learned that school dynamics are more complicated than this. During every classroom visit, students would give me insight into the background issues that they faced and the resolve shown in overcoming these challenges.  Some of these students were identified by the staff and other students as the “bullies” and some were identified as the bullied. Overall, many of these students had complicated backgrounds that needed to be taken to account before making assumptions regarding their behavior.  The Take Ten curriculum helps both student and volunteer analyze conflict resolution.

As a senior, I have realized that these sorts of generalizations are made about a variety of different contemporary issues in our society and that this superficiality prevents people from digging deeper to identify the true roots of these problems.  For example, I recently read a novel by Dr. Danielle Ofri called What Doctors Feel, which describes some of the different emotional highs and lows that physicians experience in different stages of their careers.  In one section, she specifically describes a heroin addict who frequently comes into the hospital. Most of the medical staff see this man as a lost cause; some of providers, however, took a step forward to try to get to know the man on a deeper level. By taking this step they were able to identify the roots of the addiction and treat him as more of a fellow person worthy of compassion rather than as just a “deadbeat junkie.”

Take Ten teaches volunteers the importance of forming genuine connections with the students and school faculty with which we are with in order to try to reach the underlying roots of bullying and make lasting impacts with students and schools. I hope to carry these lessons that I have learned from Take Ten into future endeavors, so that I can help affect change on a more profound level.

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