• Zorgos: A superpower we can teach kids

    Zorgos: A superpower we can teach kids

    This article contains two excerpts from the beginning and end of The Bullying Antidote: Superpower Your Kids for Life, by Dr. Louise Hart and Kristen Caven. The book explores how ACEs are created by stress, change, beliefs, and tradition, and provides a guide to positive parenting so that parents can prevent them in their children and communities.


    The Bullying Antidote: Zorgos

    Bullying is a power dynamic where one person exerts control over another physically, emotionally, or socially. Bullying can be persistent—a focused and repeated pattern—or it can be a single, traumatic event. In the bullying dynamic, one person always loses.

    There is no pill, no quick fix for the enormous problem of bullying. But there are thousands of solutions…and we’d like you to have access to them all.

    There is a superpower with which we’d like to endow your child, and all children. This power enables them to repel bullies and transform their relationships; it allows them to get what they need without resorting to bullying.

    Your child, by possessing this superpower, will:

    • Use their heart and mind for the greater good,
    • Refuse to put up with bad treatment from peers or from strangers,
    • Recognize bullying and stop it before it starts,
    • Trust themselves and inspire others,
    • Become a model to others with their upstanding qualities, and
    • Uplift those around them to think and act in positive ways.

    Not only does this superpower prevent bullying, but in fact, it is the antidote to bullying. This superpower is both a challenge to and a balm for the culture of negativity that has been passed down through generations—and is now practiced by families, peers, and the media. An antidote restores health, happiness, and balance, so life can go on about its business.

    What is this superpower? Is it friendship? Is it problem-solving? Is it understanding? Yes, it is all of these things. It is also empathy, compassion, connection, kindness, and respect. It is safety, self-esteem, and human rights. It is relationship, assertiveness, peace, wholeness, and foresight. It is resiliency.

    But to make this huge superpower concept easier to remember, we’re just going to call it Zorgos.

    People who have Zorgos are bigger than bullying. You know people like this. You know people who are great leaders, who are peacemakers, who are insightful and kind. They are powerful individuals! People with Zorgos are mentally healthy, emotionally intelligent. They keep their balance, they believe in themselves, and they influence others to be better people.

    What we nurture is what we get. Instead of nurturing bullying, we need to invest in Zorgos at every level of society.

    And just in case you were wondering, Zorgos is the Esperanto word for “I will take care.

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  • The Hague Protocol: Identifying kids at risk by interviewing parents in the ER

    In the summer of 2007, a woman was brought by ambulance to the emergency department of the Medical Center Haaglanden, a hospital that serves an inner city area of The Hague. The woman was drunk and had a severe head injury. Her 8-year-old son was with her.

    Hester Diderich, an emergency nurse, and other hospital staff members looked after the boy while they attended to his mother. “We were very nice to him,” Diderich remembers.

    After treating the woman’s injuries, they were ready to release her and her son. What happened next led Diderich and her colleagues to realize they needed a better way to protect children and evaluate the risks they face. They created a new process, known as The Hague Protocol, and started a study to evaluate it. The protocol is now in use throughout the Netherlands and is being adopted by other European countries as well.

    The idea is that hospital emergency departments are places where, by asking adults a few of the right questions, families in which children may be experiencing violence or abuse can be identified with surprising accuracy and ease.

    I spoke to Diderich recently about the Hague protocol and its origins.

    Rob Waters: Looking back now, this event in 2007 was really a pivotal moment. Tell us how it happened.

    Hester Diderich

    Hester Diderich: This mother had a head wound, and we took good care of her and the boy. After a few hours, she was set to leave. The boy climbed on top of us, and the security guard, and asked if he could please stay with us. His mother was screaming at him that he should come with her and we had no clue what to do. He was not our patient, and we couldn’t see any injuries on him, so we let him leave with the mother. We felt bad about that for a few days, then somebody said, “Shouldn’t you have called the Reporting Center for Child Abuse and Neglect (RCCAN) for advice?”

    (Note: The RCCAN is a private organization, funded by the Dutch government. It dates back to the 1970s to offer services to families experiencing problems. Professionals can refer cases of suspected child neglect or abuse to the RCCAN, which will conduct interviews and an evaluation and help families get help. Serious cases that may warrant removing a child from the family home are referred to Child Protective Services.)

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