Band-Aids are not solutions, they are used to cover up cuts or sores (a.k.a. problems) until they heals…..at least that particular sore.  They are not solutions.  The cause of the injury was not removed and the chance of being hurt again did not decrease.  All we did was mask the immediate need but we left the root cause untouched.

Recently, I began to do more public speaking engagements on behalf of MaxOut.  Originally, the idea was to simply share the good work we do at MaxOut in our Leadership and Mentorship Program with those who are not aware of it.

The context of the lecture was Leadership and Anti-Bullying centric.  However, after the first few classes of 7th and 8th grade kids, I realized that my real reason for being there was not to teach kids about the dangers of bullying and to give a few tips on the benefits of being a leader – I was there to offer a solution to a problem that has existed for a century or more…bullying.

Just about every lecture or class that these kids have ever had on bullying centered around the bully’s actions and ways to report those actions so someone in a position of authority can intervene and levy punishment when appropriate.  That is a Band-Aid, not a solution.  The root cause still exists.  The problem has not gone away.  The cold, hard reality is that there will always be bullies.  These kids are tuning out the worn out messages that are being delivered in their classrooms and often times in their homes.  They know it’s not working and no matter how you decide to spice it up with graphics, music or modern and hip themes, they can quickly figure out that it’s just the same old drivel disguised as a new message.

They are dying, literally, for a solution.  So what is the solution?  How do we eradicate something that we have determined to always be present?  We find a way to remove the one thing that allows a bully to exist – the victim!

Sounds logical, right?  If you are able to reduce the number of potential targets that a bully can torment, you reduce the power of the bully.  It’s not rocket science.  I cannot be the only person on the planet to have thought of this.  But it seems like the message being delivered is not concerned with finding a solution.  What is the solution?  We empower kids to be leaders.

We offer them a viable solution instead of another Band-Aid.  First, we need to identify the term leader and put it into context.  My definition is proven and it is simple. A Leader is any person who helps another person find success without expecting anything in return.  Others may try to complicate the term and add all of these caveats and labels to it; but I am certain that this is the spirit of a true leader.  How can you go wrong when you give of yourself to help another person find success?

My studies have shown that the best age to start offering this solution is in 6th or 7th grade.  At this age, they are able to comprehend the magnitude of the problem and they can implement the solution.  However, there is a process that must be followed in order to be successful.  The first step is a “self-awareness” stage.

At MaxOut, we have created an effective way to get a kid to identify and accept their strengths and weaknesses, which is key to knowing his or her best avenues towards individual success.  The second step is helping him or her identify a leadership style – how can he or she best help someone else find success?

The third step is teaching students how to implement this style on a consistent basis. It must start as a cognitive choice before it becomes a consistent habit.  I am 100 percent confident that a strong, compassionate and hardworking kid is impervious to the wiles of a bully.  Every kid has the ability to lead at least one other person every single day.  The more kids out there leading and showing others how to be leaders, the fewer victims there will be for a bully to target.

I would also argue that, with the emergence of more leaders, there will be more protectors of those who may not be strong enough to fend off a bully on their own.  The world needs more leaders; our youth needs solutions to problems.  Seems like a perfect fit to me - I’m finished with Band-Aids.

By: Matt Cubbler

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