Be the Change You Want! 2

The covers have to come off in the morning, the head must avoid the sand, the lips must speak up for change to happen. Help prevent those stories you refuse to read. Real change requires full participation! Support others who are trying to make a difference.

This includes Michele Borba, who I am proud to call my Twitter friend and hero! She wrote an excellent post on what to do if your teen is cyberbullied! FYI the video is an overview of her book and is used here with her permission. Watch and you will see why she is my hero!

Be kind, respectful, forgiving and supportive of all people. Teach your children with your words and with your deeds. Join in the discussions of ways to help! Truly, this is the only option for real change. Please realize this and join me in helping to make a difference. Our children are our future and they deserve our full support!

Critique of “Bullying It Stops Here” 6

Let’s Really Stop It.

I could not find the time to post about last Sunday’s Anderson Cooper’s “Bullying It Stops Here” until now. We still deal with the aftereffects of bullying everyday at my house. Yet, I hear how surprised people are about the study done by University of California sociologist, Dr. Robert Faris. Some have even called it groundbreaking. I laughed when I heard this and then I screamed at the television.

Does anyone ever listen to the parents of children who have been victims of bullying or to the victims themselves? The only new thing I got out of the whole show is a new term, “social combat.” I have been referring to it as the “mean girl” syndrome in our case. A syndrome that ironically began after the girls watched, “Mean Girls,” the movie inspired by Rosalind Wiseman’s book, Queen Bees and Wannabes.  

I know the book was not intended to have this effect, but in our case it did. I do believe Rosalind Wiseman’s other books including, Owning Up Curriculum: Empowering Adolescents to Confront Social Cruelty, Bullying, and Injustice, are more helpful and I do like how she now realizes the importance of the bystander’s and the teacher’s involvement in combatting bullying. I just think we need to go further than that if we really want to end the problem. 

Overall the study did not take some things into account. For instance I paused the video when they showed the survey questions the kids answered. Every child had a chance to identify someone who had been mean to them by student ID number and by initials. Now I know for a fact that the bullies identified my daughter as the mean one even though she was not. They even convinced others that she was mean. She was merely responding to the way they treated her. That is not meanness; that is self-preservation. These are two very different things. That is not to say that there are not children who are both victim and bully, but I would argue that this needs further investigation instead of taking it at face value in every case.

It is important to note that you cannot decide to put the victim and the bully in arbitration until you help the victim to heal and become empowered, and you cannot decide that they both need social skills training either which is what Dr. Phil suggested. They both need help, but social skills are not what the bullies lack. They lack kindness, empathy and in some cases humility.  

They overlooked other things too. They focused on “social combat” and bullying as it related to gay or perceived to be gay students at a school where the district has banned the term so that the victims cannot report the bullying without getting in trouble themselves; however, they missed other groups of victims. Basically any difference even medical health issues like allergies, diabetes, cerebral palsy and cancer, as well as those with learning disabilities, or any diagnosis are often victims of bullying to some degree.   

I think it is also important to educate teachers about how their own choice of words and/ or the way they talk to their students can set some children up for bullying. They need to understand the long-term effects of bullying too. Again, I am speaking from my family’s experience regarding this. You can read more about this in my previous post, Teachers Please Inspire and Support Our Children « Delightfully Different Life.    

People who believe bullying is no worse than it was in previous generations confound me. I strongly disagree and believe me I do know that many of my generation still carry scars of bullying. The biggest difference is society’s apathy about the bullying, leaving many of these children feeling they have nowhere to turn for help. My parents would never have allowed my brothers or me to be so blatantly mean, yet some parents today turn a blind eye, or are in denial. Add in the Internet, cell phones, and game consoles that too few learn to use responsibly and you have a recipe for disaster. Thus, the increase in suicides.

I am grateful that more light is shinning on this issue and I do hope more people are paying attention. I also hope I will have more opportunities to educate others about ways to help with this cause. Today I am grateful for every step in this direction no matter how small, and I am especially grateful that I got  a chance today. You can view it here: Keiki Talk – anti-bullying book. Thanks again Olena! 

Teachers Please Inspire and Support Our Children 8

I left a comment on a blog back in April about what I would want to tell the teachers of tomorrow. This is what I said:

“Please remind them that they have a responsibility to help our children and judging them does not help anyone. Remind them that they have a choice to be an inspiration or a detriment to our most vulnerable children. Advise them that even when children on the autism spectrum are teenagers they are not typical teenagers and asking them to write from a typical teenager’s perspective is ludicrous especially if a simple change in the assignment can avoid problems. Please beg them to assume the best rather than the worse about our children and to be aware that other things besides the class itself may affect our child’s ability to complete an assignment. Wrong assumptions can and do harm our children.”

Good teachers are the ones who are supportive of those who struggle either academically or socially without calling attention to the child. They promote kindness and tolerance and they avoid making assumptions. They realize each child is unique and they do not assume they know everything about a child on the autism spectrum or with any other diagnosis just because they have known other children with the same diagnosis. They realize past bullying can take years to overcome.  My daughter was fortunate to have a few of these teachers. 

Then we have teachers that bully our children as indicated in Teachers Bullying Your Child? Dealing With Teacher Problems.  Now, I cannot fathom a teacher intentionally harming a child, but I know many hurt my child whether they knowingly did so or not.  I believe they actually contributed to the bullying even if they did not knowingly bully her.  This has to stop!

One more thing that needs to stop is teachers who fail to recognize how long the effects of bullying last.  The teacher who ultimately caused my daughter to leave her school told me she did not see how bullying that happened over four years prior could still be affecting my daughter.  I have said it before and I am still saying it, the bullying caused more problems than Asperger’s traits and sensory sensitivity combined for my child.  My daughter’s school let us down by their lack of understanding.  Teachers, counselors, and school administration all need to read this, New Study Shows Long-Term Effects of Bullying Tied to Empathy « Bullying Stories and this, Long term effects of Bullying in girls and boys – Child Psychology and Parenting Blog: Child-Psych.org.

P.S. I have offered my services for free to my daughter’s former school, yet so far they have not accepted this offer. Maybe they think I have an agenda other than helping them, I do not know. I keep hearing stories about the same counselor making the same mistakes over and over again along with more bullying stories. I have to wonder why they are unwilling to accept help.

The Good, the Bad, the Ugly of Media Use 9

BestofBestMedia provides so many good things especially for special needs children.  It offers educational programs, a means for those without a voice to have one, and a place to stay in touch with far away family and friends.  It also provides support from others around the world.  This is the good.

However, there is another side to media devices that most of us are aware is bad.  That is the issue of needing to make sure that children learn to interact with others face to face, not just in cyberspace and that they get outside for fresh air and sunshine and exercise.  Many blame media devices for childhood obesity and other illnesses and most parents try to avoid the all day video games many of our children would enjoy.     

Consumer Reports released the results of a survey in May that indicated that 7.5 million Facebook users in the U.S. are under the age of 13, and about 5 million are under the age of 10.  Obviously, this is where things can start to get ugly.  Social networks have been used for bullying by some and others are looking to harm our children in other ways. 

That is why many sources recommend talking to children about the dangers and some suggest being on your child’s friend list.  Others even recommend having their passwords when they first start using social media so you can monitor and help them correct mistakes before they become major.  I see the value of teaching our children to use media responsibly whether they have special needs or not.

Young children certainly need to be monitored when they first start e-mailing, using instant messages, texting, surfing the Internet, using X-Box Live, or joining social networks even when they are thirteen.  Parents also have to monitor television and movie viewing closely especially for young children whether they have special needs or not. 

Those of us with special needs children may actually be better at helping our children avoid the pitfalls than some just because we have had to do this all of their lives.  It is so important that all parents teach their children that the Internet is forever.  Children need to understand that it can’t just be torn up or erased. 

It is the job of parents and educators to teach children responsible use of the Internet.  Children need to understand that there are laws that apply to certain behaviors and that they can destroy their repetition with inappropriate Internet posts.  Anonymity does not really exist for those who break laws as any computer address is traceable.           

Technology is a daily, graded class for sixth graders at my son’s school.  They learn how to safely navigate the Internet, applicable laws that apply to information on the Internet, as well as, how wrong it is to cyber bully someone.  They are accountable for their actions on the Internet, but parents need to remember that until their child reaches legal age, the parent is also accountable.  Maybe we all need a class like this too!