Socially Awkward: lacking accepted social skills, inability to judge interactions with others in an acceptable manner.
Hillel was a socially awkward 14-year-old. Somehow, he would always seem to say the wrong thing to the wrong person at the wrong time. The other students saw him as an easy target and bullied him. This made Hillel anxious and even more likely to make inappropriate remarks, creating a negative cycle.
Breaking the negative cycle
Hillel joined the Kav L’Noar group mentoring program at his school. At first, it was the same as always. Hillel would interrupt the others, laugh at the wrong moment or over-share. The other members of the group would shout insults at him in return.
Under the guidance of Kav L’Noar mentor Noam, things started to get better. Noam worked intensively with Hillel to improve his social skills, and help him understand the social dynamics of the group. The group’s interactions provided real-time examples to show Hillel both positive and negative types of communication. He relaxed and started to make genuine connections with the other students in the group. Meanwhile, outside the group, the bullying died down, although he was still known among his classmates as ‘weirdo Hillel.’
Setbacks can be a learning experience
It was just a few weeks ago, almost at the end of the school year when disaster struck for Hillel. His school discovered that he had threatened another smaller boy with a knife in the bathroom. The school had a zero tolerance for weapons policy and told Hillel that he had to leave the school immediately and would not be allowed back.
Noam was extremely upset. He had become close to Hillel and knew how crushed and humiliated he would feel to be thrown out like a convicted felon. Noam arranged a meeting between himself, the principal and the school psychologist. He asked if the group could at least hold a goodbye party for Hillel to show him that they were sorry and that they still cared about him. The principal objected, saying that the last thing he wanted was to show the other students that violence gets rewarded.
In the end, a compromise was reached. Noam held a meeting with the group to discuss the incident, and they talked about what happens when a mistake has consequences which can’t be undone. Following this meeting, Hillel came back to the school one more time for a respectful last session with the group. Noam summed up the year for everyone, and the students had the chance to say a warm goodbye to Hillel.