A near-universal belief exists that we must fight to end bullying, protect our young people on the internet and stand firm together to address mental-health issues in the community.

Over the past several weeks, I've been blessed to engage in dozens of meaningful conversations with parents regarding their fears, concerns and suggestions about keeping the young people in our community safe.

To help do that, the Hilliard City School District is in the hiring process for a new position: director of student well-being.

Historically, mental health and students' well-being have been part of the responsibilities for the director of student services. This has served our students and families well for years.

But with the proliferation of student needs in both special education and mental health, this new position is necessary. The new director also will be responsible for responding to incidents of bullying, working with state and local officials to address the growing opioid crisis, overseeing district guidance counselors and coordinating our partnership with Syntero Northwest Counseling Services.

One of the most important aspects in making changes happen is stepping up and finding a collective voice to make a difference. A focus on culture, the skills we teach students through our partnership with the Focus 3 organization and our commitment to educating "the whole child" all are parts of a larger process.

There is no single solution or easy path to improving well-being for all students.

The schools alone can't address these issues. Every decision has an antecedent and every solution is a work in progress. Real progress – facilitating meaningful change – is going to take all of us working together as partners to change the current narrative.

I often talk with parents who are reluctant to speak up about bullying for fear of retribution.. This only contributes to the problem; it perpetuates the cycle of bullying.

If you know, you must speak up. To change our schools community for the better, don't be held hostage by fear – find the courage to say something when you see or hear something.

I can assure you, there will be no retribution for sharing factual information with district officials.

However, if you don't know for certain or merely are sharing hearsay and gossip, please stop; you only will contribute to the cycle of bullying.

We are all working together to keep our children safe, to step up and be the change we want in our community and to prepare these young people to be the leaders of tomorrow.

Furthermore, let's commit to model kindness as adults.

We all are role models for the children in our lives. Children always are watching; they emulate our actions.

The best way to stop childhood bullying is for adults to model kindness and act with empathy. Children watch adults call each other names, read vitriolic social-media posts, hear hate in our voices.

Our country's de facto motto has been "E pluribus unum," a Latin phrase translated as "Out of many, one." We are a diverse community of many, but we are one Hilliard. We have many opinions and political beliefs, but we are one community.

Our society was built on basic freedoms; our Founding Fathers debated, compromised and built consensus.

Healthy debate and civil discourse is in our DNA. We must respect the right that others might hold other opinions and beliefs without attacking the individual.

We must model kindness, compassion and understanding. It is our obligation to seek to understand the opinions of others, to challenge with kindness and skill and to model empathetic, compassionate behavior for the next generation.

It takes courage to make the change we want to see in our community. It isn't going to be easy, it isn't going to be politically correct and no one is going to win on every issue.

But this isn't about winning; this is about doing what's best for our young people. Facilitating change requires courage; let each of us step up to do our part.

Hilliard City Schools Superintendent John Marschhausen writes the Hilliard Schools Connection guest column for the ThisWeek Hilliard Northwest News.