First grade is the year my daughter experienced bullying. A little girl in her class said mean things and punched her in the stomach. I was at the school the very next day speaking with the principal and formulating a game plan for dealing with the situation. There is a Zero Tolerance for Bullying in our schools and I was going to make sure that was the case. Since then my daughter hasn’t been bullied and I think the situation helped her become more compassionate.
When it comes to bullying, kids have the choice to join in or stand strong. October is National Bullying Prevention Month and I got the wonderful opportunity to hop on the phone with The Dutchers thanks to National Geographic Kids. The Dutchers lived with a wolf pack for 6 years and saw social behaviors of wolves unfold in front of their eyes. You may be thinking, bullying and wolves? One word….Lakota.
Lakota is one of the wolves in the pack The Dutchers lived with. While wolves are very afraid of people and very protective, The Dutchers were able to get into the pack because they met the pack when they were just babies. Bottle feeding and gaining their trust allowed The Dutchers to get into the wolves lives.
They were never pets, but they were very comfortable with us. We were like furniture. – The Dutchers
A life that included bullying for Lakota. Lakota was also bullied. The Omega of the pack, Lakota was the lowest-ranking and frequently picked-on member of the wolf pack, but he was strong in heart and mind. Children who are bullied may relate to that feeling and the situations that Lakota faced each day.
Be strong. It seems like you won’t be able to endure it, but there is light at the end of the tunnel. The bullies are the ones that really don’t go anywhere. – The Dutchers
Lakota was a shy wolf pup who The Dutchers said was a “lighthearted instigator of fun”. They were able to get up close with wolf pack and always had a soft spot for Lakota. So did Matsi, who friends Lakota and helps prevent the bullying.
One thing that always struck us was, even though Lakota was the Omega, he really mattered. – The Dutchers
Not only is Lakota’s story one children can relate to, it also helps raise awareness about wolves and the challenges they face in the wild today. Why do wolves matter? Based on research, here are some ways the ecosystem is affected wolf population:
- Wolves improve habitat and increase populations of countless species.
- Wolves being present affects the population and behavior of their prey. That changes the ‘browsing and foraging patterns’ of the prey, and that affects the plants and animals throughout the area.
After a long and good life of 7 years, Lakota passed away of natural causes. His story will live on raising awareness about wolves and bullying. A Friend for Lakota is a book recently released by National Geographic Kids that tells Lakota’s story. We received a copy recently and it’s a great read for the whole family. I appreciate the details added in addition to the story, for kids like mine who love to ask questions.