Ask the third graders | Hurtful words

Third grade students Alexa and Madeline offer their advice in the second installment of a new St. Louis Jewish Light video series. 

Question: Sometimes my friends use hurtful words like “dumb” or “stupid” to make fun of someone or put them down. I’m afraid to say something because they may get mad at me. What should I do?

In addition to the video above, Madeline and her mother, Stacy, also offered this advice:

Madeline: I remember being somewhere with a group of friends and one of my friends called another friend “fat.” It really bothered me, but I didn’t say anything because I was only 7 or 8 and didn’t know what to say at the time. I kept thinking about it afterward and I wished that I would have done something to help or defend my friend. I told my mom about it and we decided that if I witnessed someone being mean to one of my friends again, I would find a grown-up I trusted and tell him or her right away so that the situation would be handled.

Stacy: I definitely think that while kids are often able to realize that someone has been mean or hurtful to someone else, a lot of times they aren’t sure what to say or do. As a result, they may not say or do anything in the moment because they don’t want to turn into the target of a bully. One thing Madeline could have done in this situation if she didn’t want to ‘get in the middle’ of whatever was going on between her two friends is to have said to the one who was insulted, “Hey, X, why don’t we go play over here for a while?”  By doing that, she would have given X the opportunity to leave a situation that was making her feel bad and X would have felt defended and protected by Madeline.

Have a question for the third graders, Alexa and Madeline? Email [email protected].