Bullying in the Aloha State

Lanai from hotel roomWhen my children were younger we read a story book about the Aloha Bear which taught that aloha means hello, goodbye, and love. People also use it to mean peace, compassion, and mercy. Yet, even in Hawaii, we have a bullying problem that isn’t going away. Those who have been reading my blog know this affected my family directly a few years ago.

Hawaii is one of the few states without legislation specifically aimed at bullying, yet the problem is no longer being ignored. The harassment law was amended last year to allow for prosecution of technology related bullying. State leaders are working on ways to curb the bullying. The news media has also been giving it more attention this year. See the following for more information: Cyber bullying affects 1 in 2 Hawaii teens – Hawaii News Now – KGMB and KHNL Home

It is time to educate the parents as to their responsibility. For more information about this see my accountability post: Accountability for Protecting Our Children | dswalkerauthor.

A parent’s primary job is to teach their child right from wrong and to protect them from harm. Protect your child no matter what anyone at the school or anywhere else tells you. Protect them by legal means please! Work with me to change the system.

Unfortunately, you will probably also have to help your child learn to forgive so they can completely heal. Becoming the bully is not an option. Becoming an advocate is. It is truly time to change the school climate to one of tolerance and acceptance of differences. I hope some of you will be brave enough to publicly agree with me by commenting here.

Addendum: Hawaii’s anti-bullying law became effective in 2011. However, it excludes over 150 private schools. You can find more posts about bullying by clicking on more supportive schools from the menu or entering bullying in the search area.

Did You See Santa Bully Rudolph? 2

Rudolph

Rudolph has always been one of my favorite Christmas shows, but we were too busy to watch it when it was on a week ago, so my family and I watched last night.  Thanks to my fellow bloggers, I watched it with a fresh set of eyes.

You see Laura over at The House That Asperger Built had a post about it last week which involved much blogger discussion.  It started me thinking about a lot of things that really hadn’t occurred to me before.  Now obviously everyone knows Rudolph and his buddies were not treated very well.  That I got.  What I didn’t get was how the whole show was  about being cruel to those who are different.  When you look at it that way it makes you think.

My thoughts are that at the time Rudolph was made, it probably was meant to teach tolerance, but given today’s climate, it really does seem cruel.  I can certainly see why some of my fellow bloggers would not like it, so I have some questions for you.

Do you think Rudolph should have let Santa off so easy?  Remember I’m all about forgiveness, but even I can understand why many in the blogging community would think he shouldn’t have.  Still, I think Rudolph did the right thing.  It would have been nice if Santa had really changed, but that isn’t really clear in the story.  For those watching Charlie Brown tonight, what about Lucy?  Is she a “mean girl?”  Let me know if you think of others?

Do We Bully When We Strongly Disagree with Others? 3

People

I posted this on Facebook:

“I know many of my FB friends aren’t fans of President Obama, and he has let me down in some areas too. However, all of you have to admit that he and his family do seem to care. I love that he and Michelle instill the value of service to others in their children.”

Many of my Facebook friends are people I grew up with in the southern part of the United States, so I knew they did not like President Obama.  I expected some of the initial responses I received, but they were okay as I knew the sources and one of them was even able to joke about our differences of opinion.  She’s one of my best friends from high school, so it was all in fun and she even made me laugh.  I also knew the second person to shout out about my post well enough not to take it personally.  The third however I don’t know although we do have mutual friends.

Therefore, I was a little surprised by the post.  I’m not angry with her, on the contrary, I am grateful to her.  She allowed me to open up a dialogue that has been brewing for some time.  I really have a problem with the seemingly lack of attention that the bullying issue is getting in our country by the average person on the street.  Members of my family who know how important this is to me still don’t know how severe the bullying in our schools is today.   So when a relative stranger commented on the post about President Obama, it seemed like the perfect time to try again to get through to people.

I would be willing to bet that many of my friends and family aren’t even aware that my child has Asperger’s even though it shouldn’t be hard to figure out from my posts.  I also have not tried to hide, from my friends and family, that I wrote a book to teach tolerance of differences to try to prevent bullying.  Yet, only a few of them have acknowledged my plea for their help in getting the word out.

They are not alone; however, posts about anger at President Obama get more time on the live feed at Facebook than a plea for understanding and support to stop the bullying.  I think we need to really take a hard look at our values as a society.  Let me know what you think?

The U. S. Department of Education Gets It.

There are several articles on bullying in the news today.  The one that really caught my eye and made me shout hooray is the one about the Department of Education .

They finally get what I’ve been saying all along.  We have laws already that if enforced would protect most of the people who are victims of bullying.  I sent an e-mail to Lee Hirsch last month after seeing ABC’s  “Bullied to Death,” asking him why there was no mention of prosecution in the case where the girl was assaulted in front of her home, or in the case of the You Tube video created by little girls telling ways to kill another little girl.  I also pointed out that the seventeen year old in Georgia who committed suicide after repeated bullying should have been protected under the ADA.

Finally, the U. S. Department of Education gets that at least some incidents of bullying should still fall under current laws, as according to the link below they are “reminding schools that some incidents could violate more than a local code of conduct.”  They are reported to have sent a letter from the Office of Civil Rights indicating specific cases would rise to the level of discriminatory harassment.  They noted protections against discrimination on the basis of race, color, or national origin, sex, age, disability in programs or activities that receive federal financial aid.

They also note that if a school limits its response to specific application of its anti-bullying disciplinary policy, the school may fail to properly address discriminatory harassment.  I say it is about time that someone realized this.  Now if we could just educate parents, maybe they’ll actually teach their children that their actions can have dire consequences.  Lets hope some of them actually are reading the latest news.

As I said before, involving the law would be my last resort if either of my children are ever bullied again.  I really want children to avoid prosecution, but until parents actually get back to teaching tolerance and kindness, I’m afraid it may be the only way to get through to some of our youth.  Parents please educate your children.  I don’t want a child to die or to go to jail.  Those of us trying to make changes just want you to get it, so we can all forgive and move on with our lives.