When we last heard about our intrepid heroes they were in the process of deciding how to confront the evil Dr. Harm, a villain who threatens and even physically hurts people, animals or natural places in many ways, creating suffering and injustice through his actions. The group decided to focus on the ways that fellow students were hurt by in-person bullying and cyberbullying, an issue that they felt was a big problem in their own lives and community.
As Humane Heroes they knew that they had to get their facts right if they were going to make a good plan to tackle this problem, so they first created a set of survey questions to get a sense of the scope of the problem in different grades, and examples of the kinds of actions and words that fellow students were most bothered by. They found that kids were often treated cruelly and then threatened more if they said they would tell a teacher, and that many mean and hurtful comments were just accepted as a part of daily life.
The group decided to organize a special “Anti-Bullying” or “Up-Stander” task force and commit to interrupting these kinds of bullying or just nasty actions whenever they saw them. They made badges for themselves so others would know that they had taken on this responsibility, and did dramatic role play exercises to practice safe and effective ways to stand up for anyone being bullied.
The next phase of the mission involved spreading positivity, and for this the group created a set of multi-colored hearts designed to acknowledge their peers when they saw or heard positive actions. One side of the heart has an action that the kids decided was one they wanted to encourage: showing respect, showing compassion, sharing and including, and showing forgiveness. The other side says: Pass It On!. The group went out and whenever they saw others doing one of these acts they gave them a heart to acknowledge it and told that student to pass it on to another when someone else showed that same good behavior.
Over a period of weeks the students reported seeing their hearts circulating around the school, hearing stories about other students’ experiences in giving them out, and even finding that kids were making their own sets of hearts to pass on when they liked the way the others were acting.
For these students, addressing the problem of bullying became an exercise in creating a more engaged community, one that feels empowered to support others not only by interrupting cruel and excluding behavior but also by actively promoting pro-social actions. By modeling their willingness to interrupt bullying, they well may offer other kids the courage to make that choice when they witness their peers being treated badly. And by engaging others in a fun way to spread acknowledgement of actions that foster positive community, they are spreading seeds of kindness to greatly multiply their impact. Humane Heroes indeed!