So What DO You Think?
By: Rabbi Yakov Horowitz
We live and we learn.
This afternoon, Yeshiva Darchei Noam, where I serve as dean, launched the acclaimed BRAVE (Bully Reduction/Anti-Violence Education) Program. It is a 3-year effort designed to improve bein adam l’chavero, reduce aggressive behavior, and empower the “silent majority” of kids who are bystanders to bullying, to stand with and support the victim.
In order to gauge its lasting effect, Program Director, Dr. Rona Novick of the Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education at Yeshiva University had our middle-school talmidim anonymously complete a baseline 100+ question survey. The questionnaire solicited information from the children about the frequency of bullying in their lives – both on the “giving” and receiving ends – and their attitudes regarding the subject of their social interactions.
While we were collecting the surveys, Dr. Novick shared with me the stunning fact that six boys called her over to request her guidance in answering questions about the attitudes of the adults around them.
All six of the boys independently asked her the same question, “How should I know what my parents are thinking?”
Here were some of the questions that the kids found difficult to answer:
How true is the statement below?
(There were 4 check-off options – very true, pretty true, a little true and not true)
- My parents think it is important not to leave people out
- My parents think it is no big deal to spread rumors
- My parents think it is ok to hurt someone who hurts you
- My parents think you should tell bullies to stop
- My parents think you should be nice to students who are picked on
Dr. Novick wisely responded by asking them if they knew what their parents’ attitudes are towards Shabbos and keeping kosher. The kids gave her a respectful “like, duh” look and said, “Of course we do!”
There is a profound lesson to be learned – that we really need to clearly articulate to our children the values that are near and dear to us. Worded differently, we should not expect our kids to absorb the middos and mentchlechkeit we want them to have, unless we make a concerted effort to share our thoughts and feelings with them on this critical chinuch topic.
Best wishes for a Gutten Shabbos,
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