Bullying – What people are writing and saying…

Posted Thursday, October 25th, 2012. Filed Under Voices of wisdom

I found this article on line and wanted to share it. It leads to what I have been thinking about and particularly my youth work – empowerment, life skills, learning to speak your truth, setting boundaries, knowing who you are! I agree that the “anti-bullying” tactics are NOT working and that we need to do something completely different. One thing for sure is that we need to focus on empowerment and giving our children life skills to learn how to deal with these tough situations. Of course, as parents many of us do not know how or what to teach or guide. I am currently look at the depth of the youth crisis – bullying, not knowing who they are, lack of life skills and concern that when kids finally graduate that there is no work opportunities – this in turn can lead to depression.

My forthcoming youth handbook deals with a majority of the concerns and gives tools, tactics, suggestions, and many stories on how to deal with the concerns facing our youth – ultimately allowing each one to take what resonates and make it their own.

Enjoy the article.

Eyre: It’s high time we stood up to bullies

BY BRONWYN EYRE, CALGARY HERALD OCTOBER 24, 2012

Bronwyn Eyre

Two randomly placed newspaper clippings on my desk got me thinking about common threads in the stories of Malala Yousafzai and Amanda Todd, despite their being worlds apart.

Both were targeted by forces beyond their control. Malala, the brave 15-year-old advocate for girls’ education in Pakistan, came perilously close to martyrdom when Taliban militants shot her in the head Oct. 9. Because she survived, they have vowed to come after her again.

Amanda Todd was free to attend school, but committed suicide — a growing form of martyrdom for bullied young people — after terrorists in more banal form, wearing hoodies and sporting iPhones, tracked her down when she changed schools. When she attempted suicide the first time, they goaded her to try it again.

Malala used her “pen,” via a BBC blog, to advocate for change. Todd also used her pen, on those small white cards, to tell her tragic story and, in her way, to sound the alarm.

As we cast about for possible solutions to the bullying epidemic — launching a national strategy, revising provincial education acts, identifying Internet users, laying criminal harassment charges — I think we know in our hearts they’ll only go so far.

What we need are fewer arm’s-length protocols and more personal action, or activism, by parents and bullying victims themselves. Because, frankly, the system is failing us.

Certainly, it failed Amanda Todd. Did her so-called “nurturing school” once intervene on her behalf or call her parents or the police? Did no one in authority ever see anything — even when she was phone-videoed being thrown to the ground, kicked and punched?

As things stand, passivity reigns. Schools tend to bypass parents and keep the bullying problem in-house. Kids are encouraged to report on other kids, then obliged to participate in what I call “moral equivalency sessions” — usually presided over by a teacher — during which the victim and the perpetrator each tell their side of the story.

Human nature being what it is, of course, the perpetrator rarely, if ever, owns up to bullying and usually gets off with an empty “sorry,” which leads to a sense of futility and injustice in the victim.

Granted, it’s a complex balancing act. But surely, if teachers don’t actually witness the bullying or mean act in question, they shouldn’t be seen to reward tattling and should probably split the kids up and let them get on with recess. If they do see something, they should take unilateral action against the perpetrator, period.

Meanwhile, just as parents try to limit children’s screen time and get them talking around the dinner table, they shouldn’t be so scared of being labelled helicopter parents that they don’t call the school or other parents when problems arise. After all, most adults can have a serious, problem-solving discussion more easily than two seven-year-olds — perhaps even 17-year-olds — can.

I’ve made such calls, invariably with good results. One example: A boy in my son’s Grade 2 class had a compulsion to fall on, or lift and drop, his classmates. When I called his mother to gently register my concern, she told me this “bear hugging” had always been a problem and she appreciated the chance to discuss it. She talked to her son again, and gradually, the situation improved.

In tandem with parental involvement, of course, kids should try to fight back to the extent they can.

Not everybody will take the physical approach of 16-year-old Australian Casey Heynes, who picked up his tormentor and dumped him into a flower bed (although we all cheered on YouTube when he did).

Words can be effective, too. When I was little, I finally answered repeated “four eyes” taunts from one boy with, “Well, you have a pig’s snout.” He immediately put his hand to his nose and said, “No, I don’t!” That was that.

The ongoing message to bullied kids that “things will get better” or “it’s not your fault” only perpetuates an overly encouraged, turn-your-cheek passivity and a perverse extension of respect for authority.

Malala Yousafzai knew — knows — that things will get better only if you do something to change your fate. Against the ultimate bullies, she took a stand and fought back.

Can we say the same?

Bronwyn Eyre is a Saskatoon-based writer. bronwyn.eyre@sasktel.net

© Copyright (c) The Calgary Herald
——————

It’s time to speak up, speak out, and make needed changes in how we teach and guide our children.

We can all agree that not another child should feel that their life is worthless and not worth living. We are all connected and therefore one; one person’s anguish is all our of anguish. As for the beautiful young girl who was shot in the head for standing up for her rights, she is the real hero. Let us speak out at this barbaric treatment.

We must act now!

Enjoy your weekend. Be conscientious this weekend of the words you are using with yourself, family and friends and even total strangers. How are you teaching your children to respond/react to things? Do you challenge them to speak their truth? Do you call them on their behaviour?

Be aware.

All my love,

Sandra

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