Learning Empathy and Tolerance for Others While Helping Our Children 1

Photographed at Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History.

Photographed at Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History.

We all have to support each other and try harder to be empathic. It is not always easy to do, and this is especially true when we perceive an attack on our children. The grizzly bear or lioness comes out for me then.  I usually just avoid posting when this happens, because I know I will say something I will regret later otherwise.

Does this mean I always do the right thing?  I only wish this were true.  I too have been guilty of saying the wrong thing, as I think most people have.  I just hope anyone I have ever offended in any way has it in their hearts to forgive me.

It certainly brings home the issue of children bullying others over the Internet. That is why it is so important that we as parents teach our children that the Internet is forever.  They need to understand that it can’t just be torn up or erased.  It is the job of parents and educators to teach this to our children.

My son’s school has a wonderful class that they teach to the sixth graders called Technology.  It is not a quick one time class.  Rather, the class meets daily all year. 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 learning that they are held accountable for their actions on the Internet.  I think it would be great if every school did this, although given the precociousness of today’s kids, it might need to be done at an earlier age.  Maybe we all need a class like this too!

Mahalo again for listening,

D. S. Walker

Coping With Emotional Scars of Bullying 1

Mia Lung is a character in the novel, Delightfully Different. ©D. S. Walker

Mia Lung is a character in the novel, Delightfully Different. ©D. S. Walker

The following is an excerpt from my book, Delightfully Different. Mia is talking as she tries to heal from the emotional scars bullying left.

Part of me wanted to become an advocate for all of the kids who were delightfully different like me. Delightfully different was what Mom called me. I still wasn’t brave enough to speak up. I didn’t trust people enough yet. I wanted to believe there were good people who would understand; unfortunately, our society seemed mean to me. There were TV shows where people ambushed their “friends,” so they could tell them how awfully they dressed. There were people who posted things on the Internet about my generation. They said, “This generation needs to get tougher. Their parents overprotect them. There has always been bullying of kids who are different.”

They said that those of us who were different just needed to learn to fit in, as if it were our fault that we were mistreated. They didn’t think that society should make accommodations for us at all. They implied that our sensory issues were something that our overprotective parents invented. They even blamed our parents for our sensory issues.

Our society was advancing technically, but it was returning to an age of barbarians in terms of the way we treated others. Honestly, what gave anyone the right to judge what I or anyone else wore? Why should I have to be just like everyone else? More important, why would I want to?

Mia’s mom explains to her that she has to learn to forgive to avoid becoming the mean one and I firmly believe this is true.  I hope once people are better educated about how bullying affects those on the Autism Spectrum, that others will come to the aid of the victims, and support them the way they currently support kids who have a physical illness or injury.  That is my dream for the future.  For with understanding and support, I truly believe we can eliminate bullies or at least eliminate any power they have to harm others.

Accountability for Protecting Our Children 2

Mom with kids, Microsoft Office Clip Art. All Rights Reserved

My blog today is related to 20/20’s episode last Friday that has been all over the Internet this past week:  “Bullied to Death” and to Lee Hirsch’s “The Bully Project.” I’m not posting links as they are so easy to find if you chose to google them. Instead, I want to address what wasn’t addressed in either video.

Who is truly accountable for the behavior of the bullies? In my opinion, we as members of society are all accountable for the meanness we are seeing in our schools. Even bystanders have a responsibility to step up and speak up to protect the victims. I hold the schools accountable for my children’s safety when they are under their watch, so yes they do need to have bully prevention programs. They especially need to protect special needs children. However, I hold one group more accountable than any other.

That group is the parents of the bullies because they are not instilling the importance of kindness in their children. You may not agree with me and that is okay. You may believe the parents are unaware and perhaps some of them are. You may say, but they had no way of knowing their child’s actions would cause a child to kill themselves. You may even say it is impossible to police your children 100 percent of the time. You may say another child influenced the child so the parent isn’t to blame.

I say regardless of other influences the first major influence in a child’s life is the parent, but my reason for holding the parent responsible does not end there. You see I know something that some parents seem to have forgotten. I am legally responsible for my children until they reach age eighteen unless they are emancipated. Therefore, I think we actually need to hold the parents responsible. If schools get the bullies’ parents more involved in a way that is not punitive then I think we can really make a positive change.

Let me be clear, I have no desire to sue the parents, although if either of my children are ever severely bullied again, I would not rule this out as an option. I would rather see parents have an understanding of their responsibility, without all the hassle of having to force it upon them.

Remember, I’m all about the importance of forgiveness. Therefore, if they can understand their responsibility, make an earnest effort to teach tolerance and kindness, and get their children to truly understand the consequences of being mean, I will totally forgive them. I think it is time to teach the parents that they have not just an ethical responsibility to teach kindness, but that they also have a legal responsibility to teach kindness to avoid being sued for the damages their unkind children cause.

I think you should know that I hold both of my children accountable for their actions. They have both been taught how wrong it is to be mean. I even had a psychologist tell me once that I made my children to kind. I don’t think this is a bad thing.

Promoting Acceptance of Differences

Today I read an article from The Salt Lake Tribune about an amazing person named, Dora Raymaker who happens to have an autism spectrum diagnosis.  She gave insights as to how important the people in her life are to her, and she also noted that the misconception held by some, that those on the spectrum don’t have feelings, leads to a lack of accountability for atrocities committed against people on the spectrum.  See the link to this below:

http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/home/50340283-76/autism-experience-autistic-relationships.html.csp

I hope to change these notions by educating people about how amazing those on the spectrum can be, and by emphasizing the importance of holding everyone accountable for their actions.

EarthMy ultimate goal is to change our world one person at a time to a place of acceptance of differences, so that all people can reach their full potential.  I know that just because someone expresses themselves differently, it does not mean they don’t feel just as deeply as those of us who cry openly.  Please help me to pass on the message of teaching tolerance.

Mahalo,

D. S. Walker