Thursday, December 30, 2010

As Schools Confront Bullying, No Easy Fix on Horizon - The Boston Globe

Jennifer Mitchell’s students participated in a lesson in antibullying at the Ivan G. Smith Elementary School.
(Photo by Suzanne Kreiter/ Globe Staff)

As I read this article, a few questions came to mind:
As schools confront bullying, no easy fix on horizon - The Boston Globe

"A mother told of the night her teenage son went to a school dance. Her son suffers from autism and was intimidated by the social setting, but nonetheless ventured onto the dance floor. Unknown to him, a classmate videotaped him and posted the video on the Web. Come Monday morning, the teen was met with a barrage of insults and taunts about the video."

1. Why would any of our children want to be any part of this? By this, I mean videotaping, posting, (watching the clip), insulting, and taunting. Do we want to be a culture that enjoys making fun of people who look or behave differently?

"The week before Mitchell convened the meeting in her classroom, a group of Smith students had organized a recess group modeled on a popular television show. The group voted students out of the group, and then barred them from watching the proceedings."

2. Why do so many TV shows consider public humiliation "entertainment"?

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Prevention, Reporting, and Intervention

It is true that we need to report and investigate carefully all alleged bullying incidents. I know what it is like to have someone systematically and consistently victimize my child. I know that feeling of helplessness because I am not in my child's school and I cannot be there to help.

Yet, reporting, investigating, and consequencing bullying behaviors is just one component of creating a safe school. Effective intervention is very complicated. As grown ups, we need to stand up for those who are easy targets. Sometimes, they also need help seeing how they provoke or annoy others. Yet, there is the balance of not making them feel that they cannot be true to themselves.

We need the silent majority to be positive bystanders. They see the bullying and they can be empowered to speak up. They can also scoop up and include the child who is at risk. When not isolated, (s)he is much less likely to become an easy target. When the bystanders come to us, we must pay attention. Very often, children stop reporting bullying because they feel that we either don't listen, or we are ineffective in stopping it.

Lastly, we need to teach our children to be powerful in the right way. To be able to control someone or elicit an emotional response from someone is a powerful experience. Everyone can be tempted to try this behavior on for size. Sometimes the same child may be victimized and targeting another child at the same time. So when the school calls, it is really important to work with the teachers closely. When parents and teachers work together, children feel safe and supported and work hard to change their negative behaviors. Consistently consequencing negative behaviors while replacing them with positive ones is the best way to redirect a misguided sense of power. We have to inspire our children to find power in acts of kindness such as picking fair teams, inviting someone in the peripheral to join the group, or simply walk away and take others with him/her when someone is acting like a bully - refusing to participate or give audience.

Burlington school leaders confront bullying head-on - The Boston Globe

Monday, December 13, 2010

Shopping for the Holidays

Many of us are holiday shopping for our children. Another generation of elementary age children will have cell phones, iPod Touches, and other electronic devices with internet access. Although I am a techie at heart, as a parent I too, have struggled with helping my children be safe and responsible with their use of technology. Rosalind Wiseman, my all time favorite author, is moderating a panel called "Generation Mobile" with the Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) tomorrow. While reading up on the event, I found this resource page.

Please feel free to check this out:
Resources for Parents at the Federal Communications Commission website. At first glance . . . not bad . . .