Posts Tagged ‘Bullying’

The Parent Bully Dilemma

Wednesday, August 24th, 2016

We all know that bullying is wrong, that it creates low self-esteem, and issues like depression and anxiety, and has led to high suicide rates among teenagers. But what happens when the bully is a parent? Believe it or not, this is not out of the ordinary, and unfortunately these people raise new generations of bullies, perpetuating the vicious cycle and making bullying harder to eliminate.

Adults, especially those who are parents, should be mature enough to understand bullying and its effects, but unfortunately that is often not the case. Think aggressive sports parents or dance/drama moms (a cliche yes, but so prevalent on television)…we see it all around us, all the time. But many parents do not realize that their actions constitute bullying.

Everyone knows about physical bullying, but many still do not realize that there is an even worse form of bullying that leaves deep scars – it is emotional bullying, and it happens often. Every parent needs to ask themselves whether they might be bullying others, especially children.

Talking about others in a negative way, especially if they are minors, is an act of bullying. Parents are in a position of leadership, both in and outside of the home. Those leaders outside the home (say as a school volunteer or extra curricular activity helpers) have even more power to affect young peoples’ perceptions. Gossiping about others, especially in front of your own children (no matter how old they are) teaches them that it is ok to do.

Take for example a mom volunteer at a high school who gossiped about a student in front of a room full of 40- to 50-something year old moms. Her daughter was in the room as well. Her daughter also bullied the victim verbally by constantly trying to get her in trouble – not what many would consider bullying but still a valid form. Furthermore, the mom didn’t even have her facts straight and was making assumptions, thus resorting to slander….the girl’s parents could sue her should they decide to do so, since her words deeply wounded the victim. The other moms proceeded to discuss the “badness” of this young lady who actually was one of several who made s silly mistake. Sadly, they didn’t even have their facts straight – this is how rumors get started. Who knows how many went home and discussed the “bad” choices allegedly made by the victim with their own daughters? Think of what that teaches the daughters! Of course this is how the bullying culture survives – the apple never falls far from the tree.

Parents, keep in mind that your actions can be extremely detrimental to young minds. Did you ever wonder why the incidences of depression, anxiety and suicide have skyrocketed with younger generations and in past decades? As one who was bullied in high school, and as the mother of young adults who were bullied there as well, I think it is time we seriously assess our actions as parents – hopefully it’s not too late.

Bullying will continue to be a big problem until we all understand that words, not only actions, can hurt others. Many may not think before speaking, but as a parent it is crucial to teach your children that bullying is NOT ok. You are the only one who can truly instill this very important lesson in your children. So ask yourself how your words and actions may be seen from their point of view before you speak or act. We can ALL combat bullying if we just check ourselves and openly discuss it. If you realize you have done or said something to or in front of your children that could be an act of bullying, or may incite them to bully another person, discuss your mistake with them. You will be a better person and so will your children.

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Ineffective and Bully Teachers Need to be Fired

Wednesday, June 4th, 2014

Those of you who know me or read my blog regularly know how strongly I feel about two issues that effect all of our lives and our communities: bullying and education. I have championed many causes over the years and fought battles in the name of making public education better and raising awareness about bullying in our schools. These battles have been difficult but I try to live up to the notion that change won’t happen unless you make it.

I wanted to write about ineffective teachers, here at the end of the school year, because they hurt us all – our children and families, other children, our schools as a whole, our communities, and the future as well. It is time to stop allowing ineffective teachers and administrators to continue working in the education system.

I will share with you a few personal incidents that really highlight what is going on in our schools…in great neighborhoods! One case: there is a teacher who singles out a student constantly, makes comments about the student under her breath, yells at the student for no reason and is generally mean to the student. The student makes good grades, follows directions and does not get into trouble. Yet this student, who suffers the injustices that the teacher throughout the year, is afraid to do anything because it will jeopardize her grade and make class time more difficult. Another student I know went through the same thing at another school and had to go to counseling because she would come home crying all the time.

There is another teacher who is just downright nasty to many students, making it very clear that she has favorites. If your student is one of the many she does not like, and your student gets put in her class (even if you had a run in with her in the past), you cannot move your student out of her class! This happened to my daughter, and the only way I was able to get her out was to downgrade her from an honors to a regular class. That is ridiculous.

There are teachers at the high school level who tell the students flat out that they don’t care, that they aren’t going to spend time teaching some lessons, and that they are protected from being fired because they have tenure! These teachers speak rudely often and the students can feel their lack of excitement for education on a daily basis…what do you think this says to our students? Yet we wonder why students in the USA are so far behind on many educational levels compared to other nations.

In defense of teachers, I must say that teaching is the most noble profession in my eyes, and always has been. Teachers should be paid more and should be placed on pedastals – other nations do this (like Japan). Teachers should be respected, BUT respect is not automatic, it is earned. The moment you lose the respect of the student body you have placed a noose around your neck.

Why do teachers stay with it if they do not care to influence students? Surely at some time they wanted to teach and be mentors, to help students get excited about teaching. I know there are unions and tenure to protect the rights of teachers, but I say let’s get rid of the ineffective teachers. Let the students and parents and communities decide who deserves to continue teaching. Let’s rate our teachers annually. Let’s let the student body know that it’s ok to file complaints, and that they don’t have to stay in classes if they are subject to verbal abuse or other unfair treatment.

I know this is a fine line, and I know there is room for abuse. But WE SIMPLY HAVE TO MAKE CHANGES TO OUR PUBLIC EDUCATION SYSTEM, and we need to get rid of teachers who bully or do not teach effectively.

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How to Help Kids: “Be the Change”

Tuesday, November 8th, 2011

I had the privilege yesterday to participate in a life-altering program that was not only the most humbling experience, but one which I truly believe every child should be able to experience. Challenge Day is a program that travels to high schools and middle schools around the country, with the goal of teaching our children about respect, love, kindness and equality. It is a program about renewal, about opening one’s eyes and realizing that every individual counts. If I could offer one piece of advice to the world’s children, it would be to participate in this activity at least once.

Challenge Day has been highlighted on MTV, via a show called If You Really Knew Me. You can go to their site to watch an episode (have tissues). I have blogged about it before, but having participated in Challenge Day personally, I will try to do it justice with my words.

100 children and about 30 adults participated in the event. The children included those who are bullies, have been bullied, those facing some tough issues, those who seem to be on top of the world – basically every type of child. Adults ranged from school administrators and teachers, to parents and other district employees. The day started off with a loud welcome and some fun games. People loosened up and began to feel comfortable sharing with each other.

Toward the middle of the day we were broken up into small “family” groups – 4-5 kids with 1-2 adults per group. In this group many feelings were shared, starting with the words “if you really knew me…” Barriers were broken down, and there was a lot of crying and sharing. Some children brought up some very tough issues they face daily, like sick or alcoholic parents, divorce, thoughts of worthlessness or contemplation of suicide. My heart ached for every person who told a story, but knowing they were able to talk about it and get it out made me feel better. It was a very emotional day.

The part of the day that will forever be with me was an activity called Cross the Line. Everyone stands on one side of a line, and the facilitator ask everyone to cross the line if… It was heart-wrenching: “Cross the line if you have ever contemplated suicide or have a friend or family member who has committed suicide…” “Cross the line if you you have been hit…” Seeing so many children cross the line for being teased or bullied, being ignored by grownups, constantly yelled at, constantly made to feel they had to be better, had rumors spread about them, had family members incarcerated, never got to be a child…the list went on.

Children should not hurt. They should not be the subject of torment and should not have to deal with issues that are so scary. There was a lot of hurt in that room – and this school is in a very “good” area. It goes to show you that it doesn’t matter where you are – it is so hard to grow up, even harder now than it was before society got faster and more technologically savvy.

Challenge Day was life-changing for me. I know, and have known for a long time, that my destiny is to work with young adults in some capacity. My own bullying stories helped one young woman in particular yesterday, who thanked me and told me that she didn’t realize other people went through the same thing she has been through at school.  If you have children, or know someone who does, please speak with them or with your local high school, and try to bring this program to your campus. You will need to raise money to do so, but it will be the most incredible experience for everyone involved. Those who go through the program take what they learn and help to make campuses better and safer places.

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Help Prevent School Bullying on October 8 (and Have Fun Too!)

Thursday, September 22nd, 2011

Bullying is one of the worst and most relevant things children today must deal with. It is something that we as a society need to tackle, and it will not go away unless we all work together to help educate our children. If you have always wondered how you can help, or what you can do or say to eliminate it, here is your chance.

On October 8 from 4-7 p.m. come on down to Rock for Challenge Day at The Belly Up Tavern in Solana Beach for some great music (by Temple of the Dad) for a great cause. All proceeds will go towards Challenge Day at Aviara Oaks Middle School, which is an award-winning program for teens to combat bullying. Challenge Day is coming to a Carlsbad School for the first time on November 7. Over 100 children and 35 adults experience this amazing workshop, to help stomp out bullying and teasing on school campuses.

If you have not read one of my previous blogs about Challenge Day and do not know about it, you can go to MTV’s website and watch an episode of “If You Really Knew Me.” http://www.mtv.com/shows/if_you_really_knew_me/series.jhtml This show is a reality show that highlights the Challenge Day program at campuses across the nation. You can pick any episode, but make sure to have tissues handy. Share it with your teens too. Challenge Day is the most real, raw, intense and inspirational wake up call to kids. NO ONE IS UNAFFECTED by this program.

Our biggest dream is that Challenge Day can one day be on every high school and middle school campus, but we need your help. It is not free, and there are few people who are trained to run the program, so there is a waiting list. Here is your opportunity to really make a difference in preventing bullying, and all you have to do is come to the Belly Up and enjoy some great music with friends, have a drink, and relax.

To find out more about Rock for Challenge Day on October 8, Challenge Day itself, and to order your tickets, please visit http://www.villatortuga.net/ChallengeDay/ChallengeDayBenefit.html. Tickets are only $15, and will be $20 at the door. The Belly Up Tavern is a 21 and over venue.

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School Bullying Shows No Signs of Disappearing

Sunday, April 4th, 2010

I was dismayed this morning in reading an article in the San Diego Union Tribune on school bullying. Not only did it state that bullying has gone down statistically in schools since the tragic Columbine High School shooting, but it attributed this decline to the way schools appear to be handling bullying. Although I do not have specific numbers for local school districts (the article only mentioned districts in the East county and San Diego Unified School District), I can attest that bullying DOES happen in our schools, and officials often turn their backs on it.

Several years ago one of my children was the victim of bullying right here in the Carlsbad Unified School District. When it started in elementary school I admit the Principal was vigilant–he took it personally and made sure it stopped. While most children are afraid to point fingers at the bully for fear of retaliation, this Principal had some very creative ways to work around finger pointing. We also consulted a bullying expert who gave my child powerful come-backs to use that WORKED. These were the saving grace.

In middle school the bullying started up again the first year. I reported it to the staff and was told they needed names to deal with it. Touting the district’s “Zero Tolerance” policy, I was told that bullying was not allowed in the district. It continued and worsened. The saddest part was that a boy who carpooled with me was the victim of terrible bullying (he since left the school). I was concerned for this boy.

In my distress to help these kids, and having received nothing concrete from middle school personnel, I wrote a letter to the District, specifically to the Superintendent. I both emailed and mailed the letter. In it I stated that I felt the Zero Tolerance policy was ineffective, that there was plenty of bullying going on and nothing was being done about it at the middle school level. While elementary schools had assemblies and discussions on bullying to teach the children it’s repercussions, the middle school (or at least the one my child attended) had no such talks. My letter went unanswered.

Luckily my child came out of the bullying situation a stronger person, but that is because he chose to discuss it with his parents and we took action to help. Many kids do NOT discuss this with anyone and internalize it, leading to all kinds of problems, many of which can manifest themselves years later. Furthermore, if the victims are pulled out of schools where they are bullied I believe that sends the wrong message to the bullies. A victim should not be punished for being victimized.

With an increased number of bullying-related suicides this past year, and with more ways to be a bully since the advent of the internet, why is this topic not discussed in middle school? Middle School years parallel critical development years–puberty, self-discovery, learning to make choices that have consequences. Shouldn’t this be the time to hold assemblies and discuss the effects of bullying? Now is the time to bring this issue out into the open.

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