Lauren Parsekian and Molly Thompson, both 24, are taking on bullies. Their weapon of choice: kindness. Parsekian and Thompson are the founders of the Kind Campaign. It’s an international movement that raises awareness of bullying among girls in schools, and encourages them to simply be nice to one another.
The two friends and Pepperdine University classmates started the campaign in 2009, after making a documentary called Finding Kind, on the effects of bullying. (Click here to watch the Finding Kind trailer.) The pair can relate: They were both bullied in grade school. The worst experience for Parsekian came when she was in middle school, in Orange County, California. A group of girls started a hurtful and false rumor about her. She became an outcast at school. The bullying was so bad that she fell into a deep depression.
Only one friend stood by her during that time. “I felt alone and worthless,” Parsekian told TFK. “It got to the point where I didn’t want to wake up in the morning and face those girls.” But in the long run, she says, she’s stronger for it. “The experience taught me to choose my friends wisely and to keep people in my life who respect me and who I respect. I learned that it’s OK not to be friends with everybody.”
Thompson had a similar experience as a junior in high school. “I would hide in the bathroom between classes,” she recalls. “I had my family and friends to lean on, but it didn’t take away the pain I felt during that time. Looking back, I did grow from it. I wouldn’t have the passion I have now if I didn’t know what it was like to be bullied.”
Spreading the Word
Now Parsekian and Thompson are using their experiences to put an end to bullying. They have visited schools across the country, putting on Kind Campaign assemblies and screening their documentary. The goal is to give girls an opportunity to support one another—and to apologize to one another, too. Girls can also share their stories and make a pledge to be kind on the Kind Campaign website.
So far, the response has been amazing, even from girls who have been on the bullying side of things. “This campaign is not about pointing fingers and saying, ‘You’re a mean girl.’ We have all been on both sides of the issue,” Thompson says. “Insecurities are the biggest reason why girls treat one another this way.”
One good thing to always remember: “If you don’t have anything nice to say, just don’t say it,” says Parsekian. “Put yourself in the other person’s shoes.”
Even Monsters Can be Kind
In honor of National Bullying Prevention Month, Parsekian and Thompson will step into the shoes of Mattel’s Monster High characters. The girls will be guest starring as monster versions of themselves in a special Monster High webisode. “We’re really excited to partner with Monster High,” Thompson says. “All of the characters have these ‘freaky flaws’ that make them unique, just like girls in schools across the country. To celebrate those flaws is really cool.”
What do their monster alter egos look like? “We love the ocean, and the beach community is a huge part of our lives here in California, so we’re sea monsters,” reveals Parsekian. “My real-life freaky flaw is that I have webbed toes. So my character has webbed hands and toes. I love it.” Thompson says her freaky flaw is her laugh. “My laugh sounds like a seagull!” Thompson says. “I get pretty insecure about it still, but my laugh is who I am.” (Watch the special webisode, embedded below.)
If they could give one piece of advice to kids who are being bullied today, whether it is at school or by text or online, it would be this: "Know that you are not alone," Thompson says. “You’ll get through it, and you’ll be stronger for it.” Parsekian adds: "Know that it gets better."