Supporting children who experience bullying, violence, and trauma takes all of us. The research is clear that both the short and long-term effects of such experiences can be dire, but that even one caring adult in a child’s life can make all the difference.
We know we are stronger together so it was with great pleasure that Peter Yarrow gave two presentations last week at the Israeli Pediatrics Association Conference on behalf of Operation Respect. The conference drew an audience of about 400 pediatricians from across Israel and other children’s health professionals, including representatives of almost every pharmaceutical company.
During the first presentation, which attracted almost every participant in the conference, Peter gave a thorough overview of Operation Respect activities and in particular of Don’t Laugh at Me and its impact in the Israeli school system. Translated into Hebrew and Arabic, Don’t Laugh at Me lessons and songs are used in over 60% of Israeli elementary schools! Of course, Peter sang as well and the musical interludes were received with standing ovations and followed by non-stop applause.
During the shorter second session, Peter focused on the crucial role of the pediatricians in talking to children about their safety and asking about bullying during regular check ups. He also sang a special song about pediatricians, which he recently composed to honor a long time friend.
The Chairman of the Pediatrics Association, Prof. Eli Somekh, wrote afterwords, “Thanks so much for the exciting outstanding and exhilarating presentation and performance, we are so pleased and thankful that you came to our conference and made this unforgettable impression. Let’s hope for more and more success to the Operation Respect project and also that Peter’s music will create a better world.”
Other participants expressed to Prof. Somekh that they too were stimulated by the work of Operation Respect, of which they were not previously aware. Others said, “Peter Yarrow was brilliant,” and “had the whole audience in his hand.” “His songs are our inspiration.”
Dr. Stephen Reingold, the chairman of the organizing committee, wrote:
“Peter, you touched the hearts of a great many people yesterday and helped us all stay in touch with the holistic approach of medicine. More particularly, you inspired a couple of movements. First, I will do my best to help move these ideas forward in Pediatric training and primary care and I may very well approach it from multiple sources, e.g. adapt Don’t Laugh at Me materials for pediatricians’ training purposes. After the conference, I spoke with another colleague and we discussed forming a child advocacy group. We will bring more people into the fold and expect that this will facilitate greater success. Good ideas tend to flourish – growing exponentially – much like a sapling grows to a tree.”
Who knows where this will lead? We’ll keep you posted!