Since You Asked…

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Dear Caroline,

I’m in the sixth grade. This year I became part of the popular crowd at school. Last month a new boy joined our class. He has a red birthmark, so my friends call him “strawberry face.” I can tell this hurts his feelings, but I’m afraid my popular friends will make fun of me too if speak up.


Dear Ben,

I can tell popularity matters to you, so let’s look at the situation through that lens. In the sixth grade, some kids are popular for their good looks. Some because they’re funny. Some because they’re good at sports, and so on.

But there’s another kind of popularity you may not know about. It’s called ethical charisma. It’s a special respect that belongs to people who are brave enough to do the right thing. Some people with ethical charisma are leaders in their families or neighborhoods. Others go down in history.

I suspect you’re not the only kid in your class who feels uncomfortable with how this new boy is treated. If you stay calm and speak up on his behalf, some of the other kids who see the unfairness may follow your lead.

If this backfires and the popular crowd turns and taunts you, you’ll know more about the true value of their friendship. As much as you want to be popular, running with a crowd that pressures you to do the wrong thing is never worth it.

Here’s to taking a stand, Ben. I see great things in your future.


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