In 2020, Krzak Rundio Law Group was proud to announce the start of our annual academic scholarship. The goal of our scholarship is to help first-year students obtain the education they need to succeed and make a difference in our world.
We received many applications! We’re happy to say we have chosen a winner:
Congratulations to Marina Yingling of Virginia!
Marina is attending Virginia Tech as an English Pre-Law and Sociology double major, as an undergraduate.
Here is her essay below:
Rebuilding A Society for Kindness
“Kids can be cruel,” is an adage everyone has heard at some point, whether it be from the disgruntled parent of a child being harassed, or the apologetic guidance counselor, unsure of how to reign in the more vile impulses of children. It’s become almost wearily accepted fact that children simply cannot help but tear each other down with every resource at their disposal, and concerned adults are simply left to look on in dismay. A harsh reality that spans divides, any child, any time, across generations, an occurrence that is mockingly consistent, and wholly unmanageable, or is it? Bullying is amongst one of the most widespread and persistent problems in public schools across the nation, everyone has either experienced it, or known someone who has, and if we are rebuilding society, I believe the way we educate children, and build them to be people, is paramount to laying the bricks of our future’s success.
Children are a reflection of the world around them, curious little sponges all the way up ‘til they leave for college, and even after that. They’re constantly adapting and yes, even experimenting with callousness, in an attempt to define their world. It is a harebrained yet valiant scheme to find their place. So, it seems quite strange, that in our current education system, which now lay in theoretical pieces, where we laud scientific prowess, literary composure, and mathematical expertise, all important, sure, but where are the classes on creating good citizens, or as the famed Mister Rogers might say, good neighbors?
As a disabled child who experienced bullying in her youth, I have wondered this many times myself. How, where, and when to educate children is not a new topic. There’s discourse on common core, and articles on Montessori, plus a hundred and one opinions on the required reading list, yet in the field of emotional intelligence we are more than mute. We assume children will simply carve out the tools for healthy relationships, communication, and cooperation from their comparatively short life experience. Maybe from a good role model, or even that award-winning children’s book, but clearly, we are missing something. Many adults well into their twilight years struggle to relate to each other, to communicate, and to coexist comfortably. We are trying to show off a puzzle without all the pieces. These kinds of skills take effort, they take intention, how can we possibly expect most children to comprehend these things innately, while going through the most chaotic and rapidly changing period of their lives? Sure, we say sharing is good and biting is more than rude, but once kids seem to have the basics down, continued curriculum becomes a bloody open season.
We can do what we’ve done, create dramatic awareness campaigns, for an issue that’s already put down roots, give out an ultimately fleeting punishment, or words of disappointment. We can scold them and shame them, mumble disapprovingly at the state of things, wring our hands, and wonder, yet again, how kids can be so cruel, or maybe, if we care enough, we can go back to the beginning. We put nationwide effort, with psychologists and behaviorists, on creating curriculum and courses to build emotionally healthy people. An age appropriate, year by year focus, on building skills students will need, alongside their basic work. Teach toddlers to talk out their feelings and teach teenagers to recognize the signs of abuse. It doesn’t have to be a condemnation of the youth, it’s just taking a step back, and a step up. It’s ripping off the band-aid to stitch up the bullet hole, and it’s nowhere near as simple.
It wouldn’t be a universal miracle, it can’t be, world peace wouldn’t suddenly be as common as Tuesdays, but this kind of change would prepare a generation to be better than they would have been, and better than they were. It’s a concentrated effort to make kindness automatic, systematic, and expected. It creates an environment that won’t award pain. It understands both the victim and the perpetrator, children who lash out won’t be cast out as a bad kid and left with their own problems unaddressed. Struggling children on both sides of the equation will be noticed and nurtured.
I believe if this kind of program was implemented, it wouldn’t take the suicide of someone still in high school to take action, it would put a cork in the silent killer of our classrooms. It would lead to more acceptance, and less children acting out in fear of the other, because being able to recognize the personhood of each individual would be a notion they’ve had practice in since pre-k. This kind of fundamental refocus would be a waiting game for the fruits of our labor, those children don’t only grow up to be better people independently of their world, they become better partners, and then better parents, they raise better kids, in stable homes, in supportive communities, in a more connected and caring world. It’s not one kid, it’s not one school, or one time. It is not temporary, but it’s not instant either, and many days it may feel like a lost battle, amongst the ever-rising apathy and indifference of the modern age, ruled by online anonymity and global tension, an overwhelming, all-encompassing sensation, that is all too familiar. However, there is nothing lost, and everything to be gained, in the pursuit of a few more good neighbors.
For more information on the next open scholarship period which will be for Fall 2021, please see our law firm’s scholarship page. Congratulations again, Marina!