FAQ’s Answered #15: Why Did I Write ‘Other Kids’?


Today in a series of replies to FAQ (frequently asked questions) sent to me by fans (and sometimes not so much), I answer the question:  “Why Did I Write ‘Other Kids Are Kids Almost Just Like You’?

Many kids today face a frighteningly increasing level of bullying at the hands of their peers! Typically this bullying is based on differences in race, gender, sexual orientation or gender identity – and as it always has been, for reasons involving jealousy, fear, resentment, or as it often is with kids, just “for fun”.

In a world where bullying and intolerance of diversity is becoming increasingly a problem, I think it’s very, very important to teach children – and adults – compassion for others. Naturally I think compassion and kindness is something that everyone should’ve learned at their parent’s knees – but unfortunately, not everyone was as lucky as some of us were – or to have the kind of parents I had!

Back in 2015, when I started realizing that children were dying at the hands of bullies, and even committing suicide because of bullying, it was an awful reality to face. Worse still, was the realization that children were being picked on for appearing gay, effeminate, or for being transgender, as I was as a child and teen (and even as a young adult) – as well as for being disabled, sickly or of another race! Seriously?

Where do children get these ideas? They certainly aren’t born with them, that’s for sure!

Children are supposed to be innocent, naive, and a newer, better version of us, aren’t they? Ideally, yes – but it’s often not the case. Some kids can be very, very cruel, even brutal towards others. This sort of behavior isn’t always spontaneous or “part of growing up” – it is often also learnt. The kid who hears Dad mouthing off about “librals” on the TV, or the Sunday School teacher venting insane yet imaginative propaganda about gay people for example, will often integrate that behavior into their own mindset and act that out with their peers.

It’s often the same with adults, isn’t it? John and Jill will go to church and listen to Pastor Jimmy thumping the holy book, misquoting and distorting verses and sermons in order to demonise and incite ill-will towards those darned homosexuals and immigrants who “come over here to rape white women and steal our jobs” – and come Monday morning, John is sharing this view with Pete and Mike over their tea-break and Jill calls the cops on a neighbor who looks suspicious while mowing his own lawn on account of the color of his skin. Meanwhile, little Mikey take their own Sunday School lessons to school with them, and decides that because Albert looks a little like a girl and likes to hang around the girls and play with their toys, he deserves what the other kids in class do to him – and joins in.

Hatred of others – and a lack of compassion or empathy – isn’t something most children are born with, it’s something they learn from those around them.

Which brings me to a very important point: what kind of learning environment and what kind of examples are adults setting for their kids? Don’t their parents teach them that hate, cruelty and bullying others is wrong or bad? Don’t they teach them to help others, to be kind? Or like many pessemists today think, do they not teach them anything at all, and “just leave it all up to the teachers at school”? In many places today, a lot of children slip through the cracks in the system – if there even is a system in place!

A lot of kids grow up with uncaring, absent parents who don’t involve themselves in their kids lives. Others might be abusive too – and there’re already whole libraries written about that aspect, but there are also many children who grow up as orphans, living in care centers, or even living on the streets. Perhaps not always in places like the US or other first world countries, where mandated foster care or center-living up to the age of 18 is legally enforced – but in places like South Africa and India and other third-world countries where kids not only slip through cracks, they disappear!

Gangs of “street kids” callously and vigorously commit crimes in the darker parts of the world, sometimes to survive, sometimes for entertainment – like the kids who chased a dog and pelted it to death with stones some years ago in a Johannesburg suburb. Then there’re the kids in the UK who were not street kids who made a video of them torturing a puppy by cutting its ears off with scissors. How cruel – how far gone must someone be to do something like that? How sick and depraved! …but yet, I wonder, how did those kids come to be that way? What kind of life have they led, that they find enjoyment in causing pain and in being cruel to a defenseless, trusting creature? Did someone teach them, an adult perhaps – through experience – that hurting and harming others gives a kind of pleasure? Perhaps a fleeting warm feeling inside to help keep the cold, harshness of living at bay?

Circumstances and environment play a vital role in a child’s upbringing – and if a child grows up in a negative, brutal environment, whether at school or at home – it will more than likely result in a damaged child and consequently, a dysfunctional young adult. Whether or not that individual adopts the same behavior or traits and becomes a bad person – or rejects them to seek the good and beautiful in the world, generally depends on their internal make-up… and their environment as adults, and to me it’s terribly tragic to place children in such a position.

Further, there’s still a lot of animosity towards people with disabilities – which is definitely unneccessary! It seems a cruel streak runs through most of us, but in the right environment it can be negated and prevented from dominating an individual’s personality. It’s difficult to convince cynical kids though, that mocking people for their physical disabilities or characteristics is wrong and unacceptable however, when one of the most powerful leaders on earth builds his entire election platform upon doing just that. What Mr. Trump is saying – and what his revolting single-cell organism followers are saying is: “Bullies are very fine people, be a bully like us, nobody’ll stand up to you!” Nauseating, isn’t it?

Not liking people you don’t know is fine and perfectly ordinary… but hating people for being different to oneself? No wonder so many kids grow up to be such horrible, nasty, sociopathic little gits! Geez!

…And yet, there’s still a lot of hope! Hope is good – hope I can work with!

To try to offset this indoctrination of children with hatred and suspicion towards others, and the undermining of children’s innate empathy and compassion for others – and against the breaking down of their self-worth, I decided to write this book. The text reads like a poem, and it has some really gorgeous, insightful illustrations by Amanda M. Lyons, and it’s available in both eBook and paperback forms.

I wrote “Other Kids” to inspire kids (and the adults who read it with kids) who are bullied for being different without focusing too strongly on the bullying angle.

Anyway, that’s the background of why I wrote the story! Below, a review for “Other Kids Are Kids Almost Just Like You“.

Other Kids Are Kids Almost Just Like You” by Christina Engela celebrates the concept of diversity and how precious every child is.

This book is about intolerance, diversity, and bullying and encourages readers to accept everyone, irrespective of their differences based on gender, race, and color. The book also emphasizes being compassionate to everyone, regardless of their color, status, and gender.

Bullying and intolerance are relevant topics in today’s times and this book is good for read-aloud sessions in classrooms to help children be more tolerant and compassionate towards others. The illustrations lend clarity to the concept and help readers connect with the author’s words.

The author’s approach to the subject is unique and different, and she makes the book appealing to children with the help of colorful illustrations. It is a good book to teach children to be kind and compassionate. 5 stars” – Mamta Madhavan for Readers’ Favorite, Oct 17, 2019

Until next time,

Cheers!

Where can you get “Other Kids Are Kids Almost Just Like You“? Right here!

You can find my books all over the place – on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Lulu, Smashwords, PayHip, and a stack of others around the world! You can also find them on my website’s Shop page.

For South African readers, Kobo lists all available titles in South African currency!

I hope this answers this question to your satisfaction!

Feel free to email or message me via Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn if you have any comments or questions!


If you would like to know more about Christina Engela and her writing, please feel free to browse her website.

If you’d like to send Christina Engela a question about her life as a writer or transactivist, please send an email to christinaengela@gmail.com or use the Contact form.

Show your appreciation for Christina’s work!

All material copyright © Christina Engela, 2019.

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