Posted: April 22nd, 2012 by Michele Borba
How a high school student is making a difference about bullying
Last month I worked in Germany on United States Army and Air Force Garrisons. My role was to inservice staff, parents, child advocates, and educators in bullying prevention strategies. I also had the opportunity to visit many schools and interview dozens of wonderful kids. Joseph Griffith is one student who impressed me for the work he is doing in making a difference about bullying.
Joe is a high school senior at Wiesbaden High School, in Wiesbaden, Germany, one of the dozens of schools on the U.S. Army Installations in Europe. Thousands of children are enrolled in Department of Defense Dependents Schools – (DoDDS-E) Schools in Europe. Joe is one of those students.
I was headed into the Wiesbaden high school auditorium to set up for my bullying workshop for parents and teachers when I met one of their teachers, Mr. Buckley.
“You just have to meet, Joe,” Mr. Buckley said. “Have him tell you about the Compassion Club he started at our school. You’ll love it.”
And so I detoured a bit to seek out this teen and find out what this club was all about. It didn’t take much time – Joe was in the auditorium waiting to meet me. He wanted to learn more about how to stop bullying and instill compassion and so he’d come to my workshop. But I wanted to hear from him.
I found myself interviewing Joe. I learned his goal was to create a place at his high school where his peers would feel safe–a place where there wasn’t bullying and name calling.
“So I decided to start a club – a club that builds compassion, ” Joe said. “Anyone can come.”
When I asked, “What will you do in this club?” Joe had the answer.
“I want it to be a nonjudgmental place where we can get to know each other, share our true feelings and discuss what it means to be human.”
As you may gather, Joe is a most remarkable, caring, and friendly young man. He proposed the idea of starting a Compassion Club to one of the school counselors and a month later he was helping to lead meetings once a week with fellow students. The club topics may change, but the goal is always to create a caring, respectful venue for peers.
I’ve kept in contact with Joe. He’s sent me pictures of the meetings and his agenda. I know he reads my blog, so when he does, here’s my message.
I’m so impressed with what you’re doing and loved meeting you. Thanks for sharing your vision. I’m posting your Compassion Club’s Mission Statement in hopes other students around the world will be inspired to make a difference as well. Your teacher, Mr. Buckley, was right – I adore what you’re doing! Keep up your important work of activating heart and instilling compassion. It’s the best anti-bullying strategy we know. And you are doing something about it.
Cheers! Michele Borba
The Compassion Club’s Mission Statement
by Joseph Griffith, founder
In life we are all taught and bombarded with lessons pertaining to math, science, and literature. However as a national school system we shut our doors and minds to the most important lesson of all, compassion. So much of what we stand for as humans more over Americans relies on compassion to give it credibility. This “Key Term” is what America, as well as Americans were built around, and if our country strays away from this key principle, we all pay the price. Gay bashing, bullying, more racism, and with the crime rate in school at an all time high, don’t you think it’s time we do something about it?
Well, I say yes. What I plan on doing is running a club, deemed “The Compassion Club.” This class would serve as a place where every Monday students, teachers, parents, as well as any other community member would come together in a judgment free environment in order to lean what compassion is, and how to instill it in their lives. Also each meeting we as a group we would offer any insight on any concern or problems a member is facing.
More over, Mr. Buckley and I would like to extend an offer to give any students who receive a detention the choice of sitting in the D-Hall room for two hours, or coming down for a 30 minute class on compassion, where they would learn all about the word, and every part of its meaning, then return to detention; as long as the detention falls on a Tuesday.
People need to know what compassion is because without it, the future can only hold bleak possibilities It is so important that we teach compassion to the growing generation and return our citizens to the American prospect of equality, safety, and freedom for ALL! More over if you’re off put by the fact that we are small and it’s highly unlikely that we’ll make a difference, just remember nothing big ever got done without these types of grass-root movement.
Keep in mind that this club does not necessarily pertain to any specific group, however serves as an umbrella, inviting all creeds, genders, and orientations to come and learn a little bit more about what it truly means to be compassionate.
-Joseph Griffith, Wiesbaden High School, Wiesbaden, Germany