What would you do if you witnessed someone being very rude? Would you get involved and help? Would you look the other way? This was the theme of a Dateline NBC show that my daughter and I were on with Natalie Morales. While the Today Show episode was filmed a few years ago, there are many valuable lessons that continue to be important. I believe it is worth retelling our experience in hopes to help other people and drive more inclusion, especially during National Bullying Prevention Month.
To sum up a long story, my young daughter at the time thought she was going to be interviewed on TV about the subject of teenagers and social media. I was asked to visit the studio too, yet was unsure why. I thought maybe I was going to be on a panel with other Moms discussing a similar topic from a parent’s perspective. That was not the case!
We were set up with hidden cameras to monitor how we would each handle a “mean girl” situation. Rosalind Wiseman, best-selling author of “Queen Bees and Wannabes,” which the hit movie and show Mean Girls is based on, had a valuable role in the episode. Rosalind has devoted many years to her passion of teaching people “the responsibility to treat themselves and others with dignity.” During the Dateline episode, Rosalind shared strategies to deal with bullying situations both online and in person. Natalie Morales, who is truly admirable and just as beautiful off-camera as she is on, was a key lead too.
While the TV program was only an hour, the story leaves an everlasting impact, especially for my daughter and I. Since filming, we continue to reflect on our experience.
Some key lessons learned:
- There is A FINE LINE between rudeness and bullying.
- The younger generation quickly identifies with the term “bullying” more than parents and older generations.
- Time and place affect decision making.
- People respond differently if they know the mean person involved versus a stranger, and if they’re with a friend or alone.
- It’s harder to identify mental pain vs physical. Pay attention to body language. It reveals a lot.
- Social media complicates matters. Stop hurtful conversations when you see them. If you choose not to, certainly don’t contribute to them.
- Inclusion Matters in the workplace, home, everywhere!
As you can imagine, the episode changed our lives.
We are both more sensitive to the topics of inclusion, bullying, and lack of kindness in general. Our eyes are wide open to see situations more clearly. “See Something, Say Something’ is not just a saying, but rather an action that we take seriously. While it wasn’t directly related to bullying, my daughter’s friend recently committed suicide. It’s a stark reminder that many people take their own life or go through a deep depression because they feel unworthy, misunderstood and alone. Bullying contributes to these feelings. We have no tolerance for it. We trust our instincts and speak up when appropriate.
I hope my article and lessons learned help increase awareness and drive productive conversations everywhere. We each have an important role in making the world a better place.
Special thanks to my dear friend Allison and her daughter. I’m grateful that we shared such a memorable experience together.