An interview with Michael Miller, Operation Respect Treasurer and Secretary, Former Chairman and President, Toys R Us Children’s Fund, Inc., Retired Senior Vice President, Toys R Us, Inc.
Why do you choose to serve as a leader of Operation Respect?
Operation Respect’s “Don’t Laugh At Me” Program is one that I would like to see implemented in every school in the United States and taught to every child in every grade. People underestimate the need, but every day we read/hear news reports of children bullying other children. This has driven some of them to taking their own precious lives.
When Peter Yarrow approached my previous company (Toys R Us, Inc.), we all felt that this was a program that was needed. We provided some of the initial funding to jumpstart Operation Respect.
I joined the Operation Respect Board of Directors, after retiring from Toys R Us, Inc., to try and help implement this program as fully as Peter initially envisioned.
What do you want people to know about the work of Operation Respect?
I want people to understand how necessary and meaningful this program is. It is important to eradicate bullying of any sort—not just in schools, but also in many other group settings where children interact, such as extracurricular clubs, activities, etc.
I want people to understand how positive children feel when this program is presented to them by our skilled team of professionals (based on their feedback after they participate). I also want them to know about the documented improvement in positive school culture and climate after our program is implemented.
Why do you think our children need access to programs such as Operation Respect?
All one has to do is read the local or regional papers to see the need for this type of program. Once children can express their feelings honestly without fear, they will not only benefit immediately, but long term (well into their adult lives and as parents). Creating safe, supportive environments for children can be a game changer for society as a whole.
What is your dream for the future of Operation Respect?
My dream is that we will obtain the necessary resources to provide this wonderful program in every school in the United States—at no cost to the school district.