Nancy Silberkleit: Kindness Works!

Using Graphic Literacy to help against bullying and help autistic children be better understood.

Nancy Siberkleit, Co-CEO Archie Comics

Bullying is a major problem with children around the world and one that teachers, psychologists and counselors are always trying to address. As the co-CEO of Archie comics, I’m proud of the creative way that we are trying to address this issue.

Meet Scarlet – she is a new character that we have introduced in the iconic comic series and she represents people on the autism spectrum. She is a gentle child who wants to be included in the social circle, and she is often misunderstood. I believe that Scarlet will be a powerful tool because the medium, a well-known comic book, is the perfect place for kids to learn and they naturally gravitate towards these comics because they are fun and accessible.

Scarlet helps all of us to understand that people just want to be treated with respect and kindness. We are each unique individuals – but we all want to be included and treated kindly. Much of the problems of bullying and seeing other people as different stems from ignorance; and the antidote is awareness. Wouldn’t we live in a better world if we embraced our differences rather than being scared of them?

By introducing Scarlet, we are hoping that teachers and students can learn about autistic children and about differences. They can learn about how to treat a person with autism and how to understand this person’s different types of behaviors. Through education we can instill kindness in our children. Kindness can light up a dark room and transform people; and it can be infectious too since it only takes one act of kindness to ignite others to be kind.

As we enter 2018, I see it as my goal and one of my purposes to instill awareness in people, starting with kids. I’ve seen firsthand how autistic kids always want to be part of the larger student body but they don’t have the skills to reach out. Were other kids in the school to understand them, it could make a world of difference. Whether or not someone has autism or is just different, we need to find ways to communicate with each other with respect. We hope that the Archie Comics can be a vehicle for creating a dialogue in the classroom and for helping kids to recognize and appreciate differences without belittling those who are different.

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