“Bully” 3

I was first in line to see it this morning. Initially, it looked like I would be the only one there, but thankfully a few more showed up.

Kindness Matters - Photo of My Car Magnet ©DelightfullyDifferentLife

Kindness Matters! It’s just one of the take away messages of the movie, Bully. It is the message that the kids need to get and that some are getting as they join in the cause to help prevent bullying and to support the victims.

There are more important messages for the adults!

  • Blaming the victim for not telling you is not acceptable especially if you gave them empty promises of protection in the past while they continued to be tormented.
  • Scolding them for not forgiving their tormentor is not helpful either.
  • Apathetic attitudes regarding the severity of the problem are not helpful.
  • Excusing meanness that does not result in bloody noses or broken bones is also inexcusable.

We see teachers, parents, principals, vice principals, law enforcement, and bus drivers letting kids down again and again. One child takes matters into her own hands and threatens her tormentors with a real gun. FYI one boy had threatened to sexually assault this teenager, so it is not like she had not been threatened. I do not condone taking a gun to school, but I do understand why she did it, and I found the sheriff to be offensive when he said that she had no cause for this action because she had not been physically assaulted. He thinks she should be locked up for a hundred years despite the fact that the gun wasn’t fired, and she had never been in trouble previously. You’ll find out her fate if you watch the movie.

I will be writing a longer review for Special-Ism for publication on the fourth of May, so I am not going to say more about the movie itself right now. I merely hope schools will encourage their staff and students to see the movie.

PTSD and Ambiguous Loss 6

In When Someone You Love Suffers From Posttraumatic Stress, by Claudia Zayfert, PhD and Jason C. DeViva, PhD , they define ambiguous loss as a “term used to describe any situation in which a loved one is absent in some ways but present in others.” They further explain that this can be when a person is present physically, but is not participating in family life. This describes my family.

The thing is we are still a family and at times we still act like one. However, there are other times, we are not. This may sound like a typical family with a teenager to some of you. It is not.

I am not talking about typical teenage rebellion or pulling away. I am talking about a talented, kindhearted child, who wants to be alone, yet still wants me to be present. The two are contradictory I know, still there it is. She needs me to be present, yet invisible. She needs control of the boundaries she establishes, while at the same time she cannot accept that I too need boundaries. I frequently walk on eggshells as I try to help her.

The more I learn, the more I understand and believe me I understand more than most. Yet, I am at risk. I am at risk for what the book describes as “secondary trauma.” Many family members of those with PTSD have signs of anxiety, depression and PTSD themselves. This is why I get angry when I see people related to the year my daughter experienced bullying. They are all moving forward; this includes the bullies and their families.

We have done many things right to help my daughter. She still talks to me, she still has goals. We take baby-steps in positive directions. She has relived the events too many times already, and does not want to talk about it anymore. She received counseling after the event and was doing better until the school that previously had been supportive let her down completely.

She knows in her heart that it is not her fault, but in some ways the school’s failure caused her to start over at square one and to lose the years of progress. All of the professionals who let her down previously make it hard to trust any of them, and I understand this.

Today I found a wonderful book to help her,The PTSD Workbook. I am also trying to take care of myself, so I can continue to help her. My husband gave me a better camera for Christmas and I am taking pictures of nature as I take my walks. Like the faint rainbow above, there is a glimmer of hope.

Inspiring Man and Movie 8

Purchased Clip Art Collection Version 1.0 Copyright 2012 Macmanus. All Rights Reserved.

Front of the Class is the story of Brad Cohen, a teacher who has Tourette’s. I love this movie for several reasons and I highly recommend it. I believe it should be required for teachers to help them understand how teachers can devalue a child when they should be inspiring them. This movie resonated with me since my daughter had a vocal tic when she was younger that a teacher actually made worse after we told her to ignore it.

The movie starts prior to young Brad’s diagnosis with Tourette’s and follows him as he interviews for teaching positions at multiple schools where they fail to see his potential. One of the interviewers tells him, “You must have had inspiring teachers.”

He responds, “I had an inspiring Principal. My teachers really only inspired me to be the kind of teacher they never were.”

She asks, “What kind of teacher is that?”

He responds, “One who makes it possible for a kid to learn even if he’s different. In a way the best teacher I ever had is my Tourette’s.”

Later he tells his students, “Never let anything stop you from chasing your dreams.”

I am grateful to Brad Cohen and others who continue to pursue their dreams and work to change the world to a place of tolerance and acceptance of differences.

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!