Being a teacher is something that I love more than anything. There are so many wonderful things that teachers are privy to that many other professions are not. For instance, I get to be there when children learn to have self-confidence in themselves, sometimes for the first time without their parents. I get to see them go from really timid children trying to figure out their locker combinations to self-assured tweens going from class to class and eagerly waiting at their friend’s locker to walk them to class. As a teacher sadly, I also see the children that are “alone in the crowd”.
Oftentimes exclusion is a difficult topic to discuss because we as adults can remember being excluded and the fact is that it hurts. Do not misunderstand this excluding someone is bullying behavior at it’s finest and it even hurts us as adults. We remember being the only one in our class not invited to that birthday party or fast forward to the present day we are the only person not invited to that after-work event.
It might be difficult to talk about but if we don’t talk about exclusion and how harmful it can be, we run the risk of diminishing its importance and more importantly teaching the next generation how they can be more inclusive and kinder. What we know for sure is that when we exclude someone children and youth over time are more likely to experience depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem.
These children who are excluded are also more prone to be lonely and want to avoid school. In the educational era of encouraging attendance and the data behind success and staying in school, this is a serious problem. The less exclusion and bullying we have in schools the more likely we see children want to come to school and feel good about themselves when they do. It’s time that we stand together as a community and more importantly create a culture in the school environment where exclusion is not acceptable. This ideally should start at a very early age but it should be reiterated throughout that child’s educational career in each grade.
If we don’t come together as an educational community with the support of parents and stakeholders to encourage a community environment of acceptance, love, and respect of everyone we know that over time children and youth who are excluded and ostracized will develop anti-social behaviors like substance abuse, aggressive behavior, and disciplinary problems at school.