takes on bullying
March 28, 2013
Students and parents at South Central Calhoun Community School District hear about the impact that bullying can have on a school district during a presentation at the Capri Theatre Thursday night.
Bill Sanders, of Rachel's Challenge, spoke to the group. Rachel's Challenge tells the story of Rachel Joy Scott, the first person to be killed during the shooting at Columbine (Colo.) High School in 1999.
Sanders is a friend of the Scott family and shared his views on bullying.
"We don't have a bullying problem, or a violence problem, or a gun problem," Scott said. "We have a people problem."
He said most people are not comfortable with the thought of shooting someone else, but are quick to avoid the people who look like they could.
"Your kids are so polite and respectful it's hard to notice who is being left out," Sanders said.
Sanders issued five challenges to audience members to pursue during their lifetime.
The first is to avoid being prejudiced.
Sanders explained that prejudice literally means to pre-judge.
"If you find yourself judging someone, apologize, ask for forgiveness, and then you change and try again," Sanders said.
He said the same rule can work in parenting, or any aspect of life after you fail.
"Give people three chances before you judge them," Sanders said. "Did you look at their appearance or their soul?"
The second challenge is to dream big.
Sanders suggested that people take their dreams and write them down, make them specific, turn them into goals.
He said keeping a journal could help with that.
Sanders said a journal could also help the outlook on yourself. He said the most important critic of you is yourself.
The third challenge is to choose positive influences in life.
"Are you the puppet or the puppeteer in your relationship?" Sanders asked.
Sanders said Rachel sought three groups of kids for friendships. She tried to be friends with anyone who had special needs, anyone new to the school and anyone who was being picked on.
"Bullying is an imbalance of power," Sanders said. "There isn't a challenge, and that's why they do it."
Sanders said he recently spoke in a school in Pennsylvania who lost four students to suicide.
He said something that really bothered him was reading a local newspaper that had school officials quoted as saying the school does not have a bullying problem.
"It doesn't matter if it was a bullying problem, we still missed it," Sanders said.
The fourth goal was to speak with kindness.
Sanders said words can hurt or heal.
The fifth challenge is to tell everyone you love what they mean to you.
"You'll never regret it and they'll never forget it," Sanders said.
He said to start your own chain reaction.
Between explaining the five challenges, Sanders showed old video of Rachel and footage of her family.
One of the videos was of Rachel's brother Craig, who was also at Columbine High School on April 20, 1999.
The videos explained that two students tried to put bombs in the cafeteria. They hoped to shoot people running from the school after the bombs went off.
The bombs never detonated so they decided to enter the building.
The two shooters - Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold - started shooting students eating lunch outside of the building. Rachel was one of them.
Craig explained that at first he thought it was firecrackers or a senior prank.
He soon realized it was gunshots. Craig was in the library, where most of the shooting occurred.
The two people with whom Craig was hiding under a library table were shot. Craig's life was spared, possibly because the sprinklers started going off.
Sanders said the most memorable thing about Rachel is how she lived and how she treated other people.
One of Rachel's biggest influences in life was Holocaust victim Anne Frank. Sanders said it was kind of ironic that both girls died because of Adolf Hitler.
Hitler's birthday was the same day as the shooting at Columbine. A day specifically picked by the shooters.
Sanders said Rachel's Challenge has reached more than 3.5 million students across the nation.
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