November 16th, 2016
By Nicole Forsyth, RedRover President and CEO
I am deeply saddened by the reported rise in cruelty, bullying, vandalism and other hate crimes carried out since the election results. Although RedRover is primarily an animal welfare organization, all acts of cruelty are connected, and there is a clear link between cruelty and violence towards animals and people. This is why RedRover seeks to prevent the cruelty and abuse of animals through our school-based program to develop empathy skills for animals and people, skills which we believe are needed now more than ever. When you unravel any form of cruelty, you begin to unravel them all.
I am so grateful for the kindness and compassion of RedRover supporters and grateful that so many people understand and share the emotional states of the animals and people in their lives. I am also grateful for those who support other organizations set up to make the world a better place for all. Every bit of help, no matter how small, makes the world that much better. If you are feeling sad, too, we are not alone. Reach out and connect with everyone you can. Smile and talk to strangers; connect with neighbors. Isolation and silence only perpetuate misunderstanding, cruelty, hatred and abuse. If you are feeling powerless, you are not. There is so much strength when you combine kindness with courage and connection.
Given the inevitable variability in human psychology, there will always be cruelty in the world, but so much could be prevented, and awareness is half the battle. Stay informed, be alert to your surroundings and use compassionate assertiveness to stand up for yourself and others if needed. Bullying happens to adults as well as children. Tips for identifying bullying and abuse are readily available online, like this one, as well as strategies to de-escalate intimidation, harassment or bullying if you see it.
If you can safely do so, take a video and report cruelty you witness to the police or animal control. If you are not in a position to help or show your support for a potential victim, support an organization or an advocate. Tell them you believe in them, you are grateful for them and that they should never stop fighting for change. Spread hope, inspiration and gratitude to those around you. Spend time with your pets, friends and family. Stand up and declare, “I will never give up.”
To learn more about RedRover Readers and how to bring the empathy program to your community, visit RedRover.org/Readers.