Recently, I have become aware of a cool new global initiative called StopTheB. It is for young people, by young people – and was founded by two sisters, Vasundhara (22) and Riddhi Oswal (16). The main aim of StopTheB is not only to raise awareness and educate on the issues, context, and dynamics of bullying and bystanding behaviors, but more importantly to inspire individuals to rise up, support targets, intervene when they feel comfortable, and otherwise simply do the kind thing. We know that youth can be powerful engines for positive change in schools and in communities, and their voices and efforts must be encouraged and elevated at all times.
Youth can be powerful engines for positive change in schools and in communities, and their voices and efforts must be encouraged and elevated at all times.
The campaign has received a tremendous amount of international support, and has been featured in a number of major outlets including Business Insider, Yahoo News, Daily Herald, Star Tribune, Boston Herald Le Digest Quotidien, Actus France, Asia One, Singapore News, Thailand Tribune, Thailand News Gazette, Brunei News Gazette, The Daily Courier, Ottawa Citizen, and Canadian Insider. It’s even been promoted by celebrities, including soccer legend Ronaldinho:
Over the last few months, Vasundhara and Riddhi have been launching “challenges” to encourage and motivate young people to get involved not just with their words, but with their actions. For example, on their Instagram page, they’ve asked their growing community to post digital creations and artwork that represents what it means to be an #activebystander – and the top entries received cash prizes.
What I wanted to bring to your attention – and the attention of your students (spread the word!) is the newest #StopTheB challenge, called “Make Good.” The Make Good Challenge was launched on UNESCO’s inaugural ‘International Day against Violence and Bullying at School Including Cyberbullying’ – November 5th. Basically, it asks young people to reflect on a past situation in which a fellow classmate or student was being bullied (at school, in the community, or online), and the participant failed to say or do the right thing and, in retrospect, wished they had acted differently. Perhaps they didn’t stand up for the victim at the time, but know deep inside now that they really should have. Perhaps they wanted to, but didn’t exactly know what to do, or lacked the courage, or were friends with those who were doing the bullying, and were afraid of being targeted next. Perhaps they simply lacked empathy and understanding in the moment. Or, perhaps they themselves were the aggressor. This is their opportunity to make things right!
Any student across the globe can participate in the Make Good Challenge. All they have to do is go to the StopTheB website, choose from one of the custom Make Good note templates, write a message to the person with whom they want to make things right, and send it to them through the cool, interactive interface! Participants can also choose to create their own video (one minute or less in duration) and post it to their Instagram page while also tagging @StopTheB and the person to whom they want to apologize.
Educators (and other youth professionals), consider sharing this blog, the StopTheB website, and the image above to get the word out to your students. And follow the StopTheB page on Instagram! Let others know, so they can participate! The last date of entry is December 10th, and two winners will be announced on December 24th. Vasundhara and Riddhi are looking for the most genuine and courageous apologies, and so do keep that in mind when you mention this to your students. Those two winners will receive up to 50% of their tuition fee (capped at $10,000 USD due to global disparity in tuition rates). (Check out the Terms and Conditions to have any of your questions answered).
So many times, we have regrets about how we’ve treated others, or about not stepping up to help, encourage, or support others when we really should have. This is a chance to restore a relationship, to shed any feelings of guilt, to get past any residual shame, and to move forward with the power to do the right thing next time. If students never take the first step to address an instance of social and relational conflict, they will continue to run from those awkward and uncomfortable moments, instead of acting in strength, confidence, and maturity. This can be that first step, which can lead to another, and another – and ultimately a lifestyle where the student not only knows what to do when they mess up, but actually does it.
If students never take the first step to address an instance of social and relational conflict, they will continue to run from those awkward and uncomfortable moments, instead of acting in strength, confidence, and maturity.
Finally, I think we all understand the power of an apology when it comes to helping the target heal and recover. Some apologies are simple and just a few words – but those aren’t very effective. Since research has shown that the more elaborate apologies lead to more forgiveness, I appreciate the nuances of the Make Good Challenge. A participant must really think through and reflect on what has happened in the past between them and another individual, and then meaningfully determine what words to use to restore the relationship. Just saying “I’m sorry!” won’t be enough. Often, the person you have hurt needs more – and needs to see that you are truly remorseful.
Again, please let your students know about this challenge and encourage them to participate! I’ll be helping serve as a guest judge, and very much look forward to the opportunity. It just starts with a singular positive action, and that can catalyze a chain reaction that collectively lead to better, healthier relationships among youth!