Category Archives: empathy

Be Your Own Kind of Change

Be the Change pledge

When you hear the words “Be the change you wish to see in the world”, what is it that you see?

Do you see a world with no discrimination? With no broken homes? With equal opportunity?

Throughout the month, we have been partnering with Ledbetter and taking a step back to determine what it truly means to “Be the change”. Truth is, to everyone, that change means something different – we ALL want to see something different happening in the world that we live it.

So when you ask yourself, “what is my change?”, what comes to your mind?

They say a ship is safe in the harbor, but that’s not what ships are for.

As we wrap up the month of July we are challenging YOU to become the change. You are the difference maker. The world changer. The change that this world needs to see. We challenge you to live out that change and sign our pledge to live a life that changes ideas, voices, opinions – to be whatever that change is that you need to see!

Take the pledge and live for better tomorrows by downloading your own here, then take a photo and share with us all over social media with #LedbetterCampaign and #LTBTC

Bullying in School: Public Vs. Private

Written by Ryan Smith, Megan Meier Foundation Intern

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For years now, we have known about the dangers of bullying for teenagers all around the world. Unfortunately, we have learned that bullying and cyberbullying are a part of the daily life for many students growing up in our school systems.

What we as a society tend to overlook is the bullying in public schools versus the bullying in private schools. For the most part, everything that we hear in the media (television, social media, etc.) is based on public school systems… but what about private schools?

To answer this question, a long five-year (2010-2014) survey was conducted. Roughly 185,000 students from both public and private schools participated in the study to help raise awareness on social trends. Here is what they found:

  • Anti-bullying policy was enforced more at private than public schools.

According to the survey results, bullying was taken a lot more seriously in private schools than public schools, with 45% of public school students reporting anti-bullying policies compared to 59% of private school students reporting the same. The most logical answer for this is typically private schools are smaller with more funding, whereas public schools are larger and have less freedom to implement new policies as they please. 

  • Private school students are more “accepting” of their peers than public school students.

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics,  “homosexual and bisexual teens are more likely to report bullying, along with students having disabilities.” 47% of private school and only 36% of public school students who are viewed as “different” report being accepted in their environment. It’s fair to say that demographics plays a role in these trends, as public school students are much more diverse (52% white, 24% Hispanic, 16% black, 8% other) than private school students (72% white, 10% Hispanic, 9% black, 9% other).

  • Peer pressure is the same, no matter where you go to school.

Surprisingly, 50% of students in both public and private schools claimed peer pressure was a problem in their environment. One observation that can be made based on these results is that peer pressure in public schools has more to do with making friends and “fitting in” while peer pressure in private schools has more to do with competitive academics.

  • Social scene trends are more apparent in public schools.

Public schools tend to be more cliquey (52% of students say) than private school students (only 38%).  This may be because private schools generally have smaller class sizes and fewer social groups compared to the larger class sizes and more social circles that fill a public school.

So what does this all mean?

The biggest takeaway you should have after reading this is that bullying is evident in every school, no matter public or private, although there are different factors to consider for each.


With your help, we can make a difference. Help end the fight against bullying. Join the conversation using the hashtag #StopBullying and #BeTheChange

Understanding the Long-lasting Effects of Bullying

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Over the last 10-15 years, society has started to realize some of the serious consequences that bullying can have on a person’s life. We know that victims face greater challenges than the typical individual in the short-term (for example, graduating high school), but what about the long-term?

About a week ago, Discovery News wrote a piece on a study done by the journal Lancet. They concluded, among other things, that “children who have been bullied are more likely to have mental health struggles later in life than children who are mistreated by adults.”

The study of 5,446 children surprisingly suggested that maltreatment by adults led to no more adverse effects suffered later in life than kids who hadn’t been maltreated. On the other hand, children who were bullied were far more likely to have mental health issues later in life compared to those who had not.

Taking a closer look, the study revealed some surprising information about children who were bullied alone:

“Children who were bullied by peers only were more likely than children who were maltreated only to have mental health problems … with differences in anxiety … depression … and self-harm,” the study said.

One valid argument against such findings is that children spend more time around bullies than they do abusive parents.

The study was wrapped up with this important note:

“Being bullied by peers in childhood had generally worse long-term adverse effects on young adults’ mental health. These effects were not explained by poly-victimization. The findings have important implications for public health planning and service development for dealing with peer bullying.”

Although the truth is disturbing, it’s refreshing to see people take the initiative to educate themselves while raising awareness for others in the process.  With continued studies and research on bullying, we can be confident that the world will be a better place for our youth as we move towards the future.


With your help, we can make a difference. Help end the fight against bullying. Join the conversation using the hashtag #StopBullying and #BeTheChange.

Former NFL Great Hines Ward is a Role Model On and Off the Field

Written By: Ryan Smith, Megan Meier Foundation Intern

February 26, 2015

Hines Ward, Pittsburgh Steelers Wide Receiver.
Hines Ward, Pittsburgh Steelers Wide Receiver.

For more than 14 years (1998-2011), Hines Ward showcased his incredible talent as a wide receiver for the Pittsburgh Steelers in the National Football league. Some of his greatest accomplishments include being a 2x Super Bowl Champion, a 4x Pro Bowl selection, and having his #86 retired by the Pittsburgh Steelers organization.

While he is most recognized around the world as a standout professional athlete, the adversity Ward faced in order to achieve his dreams should not be overlooked. Born an Asian American and Pacific Islander  (AAPI) biracial left Ward a constant bullying victim in school. This is how Ward summed up his experiences as a child, the target of discrimination:

“The black kids didn’t want to hangout with me because I was Korean. The Korean kids didn’t want to hangout with me because I was black. The white kids didn’t want to hangout with me because I was both black and Korean.”

Ward goes on to say that sports was the one thing he could turn to growing up because sports are about winning and being a part of a team, regardless of race.

In 2010, Ward’s days on the playing field were coming to an end but his goals to make a difference off the field were just beginning. He was selected to serve on the President’s Advisory Commission, where he was one of 18 Commissioners to serve on the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.

The story of Hines Ward shows that anybody can be a victim of bullying, but with the right mindset, overcoming even the most challenging obstacles in life is possible.  Today, Ward is still a prominent figure in the fight against bullying.

You can join the conversation and learn more about Ward’s story and AAPI bullying prevention on Twitter using the hashtag #AAPIstrong.


For more information on Hines Ward, his struggle with bullying, and his movement, please visit the following links:

To Feel or Not To Feel by Kaisee Perkins

We would like to acknowledge our friend Kaisee Perkins for this blog post “To Feel or Not To Feel”. Thank you for sharing with us Kaisee! 

To feel or not to feel?  That is the question.  A couple of words that I think people need to understand.  The first one being empathy, a word that is used to describe the ability to understand and to share feelings.  The second being sympathy, a word that is used to describe a feeling of pity and sorrow for someone’s misfortune.  For those that have been bullied, was there a time which you felt like you were in search of empathy? I know there was to me.

Bully, bullied, bullying, these are such strong words. But they get over-used way too much. A second grader sitting in class throws his hand up in the air, “Teacher! He won’t let me use his crayon, he’s bullying me!” The teacher gets up walks to the table and administers discipline to the child who wouldn’t give the other kid the crayon. The boy, hollering at the teacher, got his way. Was that boy, the one who didn’t give the other the crayon a bully? Once again, over used. These three words bring a problem to my eyes.

Walking through the halls of high school, a senior waits before the bell in a different classroom than the one she is supposed to be at. The bell rings, then rings again. She walks out of that class room, late to class, into the classroom she should be in.

(You are probably puzzled.)

This senior was told to not be in the hallways with a certain person. This SENIOR had to avoid even eye contact with a particular person. Why you may ask? Well, after this senior was accused of several different things, she was investigated. All investigations led to no findings. Nothing happened to the accuser except for the ongoing use of what I would consider power.

Not everyone understands those three words. It hurts.

People who have been in those situations where they were the victim, cry for help. They reach out for understanding too. They want to be heard! They go to speak and they are told they are crazy, to shut up, to just….drop it. They are crying for someone’s EMPATHY not someone’s sympathy.

We are told to get over it, its life, it happens to everyone. We are pushed and pushed to get over something that is so hard to overcome.  We need help. If we aren’t alone, then why is empathy so hard to come by? Empathy IS our help.

I close in saying, YOU are not alone in anyway. Whether it is YOUR FAITH, YOUR FAMILY, or even just EMPATHY (a cry for help), YOU are not alone. So, there’s just one thing I would like you to think about? Should we feel or Should we not feel?