Raising Girls who are Includers instead of Mean Girls, by Lisa McCrohan

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I remember walking into the cafeteria of my new school and it was like someone punched me in the stomach.  I was in sixth grade.  My family had just moved from Virginia to Ohio.  At first, I attended the local Catholic school.  Within the first two months, I was begging my parents to go to the public school because the girls were so mean.  And when I look back, wow, they were cruel.  My maiden name is Ackerman.  They’d call me “Lisa Acneman” as sixth grade brought with it oily skin and some breakouts.  When my parents discerned that I would change schools, I felt relieved.  I won’t even tell you about the last day at school there when all the girls knew I was leaving.

Off to public school I went.  But soon I was to find out that it didn’t matter whether I went to parochial or public school.

Instantly a group of girls took me in.  They invited me to sit at their lunch table.  Little did I know that they had kicked another girl off the table so I could sit with them.  I was so grateful to have friends.  I was a bit naïve.  Maybe that’s because I grew up in a home where we were all out for each other and my assumption going “out into the world” was that everyone was like that, too.

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Then one day, I walked into the cafeteria.  I nearly dropped my brown paper lunch bag.  I looked at the table where I had been sitting for the last week.  My first week at school.  I counted the number of girls at the table – eight.  Eight was the maximum number of people who could sit at one table.  The two girls who were the “leaders” looked at me, whispered to the other girls at the table, and everyone turned around to laugh at me.

My heart sank.  I actually went up to the table and feebly asked, “Is there space for me here?”   Hoping maybe I was wrong, that it wasn’t as it seemed.  I couldn’t feel my feet beneath me.  I felt dizzy.  I swear my heart was going to jump out of my chest.

I can’t remember what they said, but I must have gotten the picture because I turned and I quickly looked around for a place to sit.  It was a small cafeteria and soon someone would notice me.  I didn’t want anyone to look at me.  My ears were ringing, my hands were clammy, my heart was beating so fast.  I felt the eight girls’ snickering whispers like daggers in my back.  There was no “physical fight” or blow up so the teachers on lunch duty were none the wiser.  I saw a table with no one at it.  So I sat down.  I wanted to cry.  But I didn’t.

saving-the-bully-within-1This is where I sat for two months.  Alone.  By myself.

Once, a male teacher came up to me after whispering to another teacher, with a sympathetic, pleading look on his face and asked me something I can’t remember now.  But I didn’t see him as a resource.

I know that eventually I sat somewhere with some group.  For the next two years that we lived in Ohio, I had some good experiences. I still have a friend from there who is one of my best friends.  But the two girls continued to be bullies.  Yes, that’s what I can call it now as I understand as a psychotherapist and adult what was really going on.  They were the kind of “friend” who would invite you over and you’d feel like “Oh good! We are friends again!”  Only to have them talk about you or put you down.

We have all had experiences like this where other girls have been mean to us.  Just the other day, another mom friend of mine told me that she waved to two moms talking and they looked at her and laughed.  It happens in childhood. It can happen between adult women.

As a psychotherapist, I intimately know that when someone hurts others it’s because they are hurting.  I have counseled both the bully and the one being bullied.

(To read more of this article, please follow the link below…)

Raising Girls who are Includers instead of Mean Girls, by Lisa McCrohan

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Growing up Maori in NZ: My daily experience of racism at school, playing rugby, at University and at the shops, by an anonymous 18 year old young man

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I was 9 and it was the middle of religious education at our state primary school when a lady told our class that God didn’t love the Tuhoe people because they were terrorists. I still remember that day because I wanted to cry I was so angry. I knew she was lying. So I walked out of her class and went to the office and told them I wasn’t going to go to religious education anymore. The teachers rang my mum and she came in and told them that neither me nor my brother were ever going back to religious education.

Sometimes kids would say racist things and I used to try to ignore them a lot. I played rugby for our town and there were some boys in my team who’d call us racist names. One day at training a boy called me a dumb N***** and I had enough and ran at him and punched him.

Well I got in huge trouble. The coach had heard it all but told me it was all my fault for reacting and I need to just ignore it, as usual he never told off the boys who said racist things. I walked off and was crying. My Dad came out onto the field and told off my coach. My coach kept trying to blame me but my Dad told him he was useless and shouldn’t let the other boys abuse us and then expect us to take it.

It was around this time me and my cousin used to be picked on by a group of boys at our school. They’d say racist things about us and we refused to take it, we fought back. Teachers didn’t really do much, we were told to ignore it but it’s hard to ignore someone giving you a hiding. At lunch they’d just chase us and fight us, sometimes 10 to 2 so it was never a fair fight.

One day my cousin left some 4 x 2s in the bushes. He never told me what he’d done but that day at lunch when they were all chasing us he shouted at me to follow him to the bushes. We ran out of the bushes with these pieces of wood and all the boys who’d been about to bash us started screaming and running away. They were very fast and we didn’t even hit any of them. We ended up in the principal’s office and we were the ones in big trouble not the boys who’d been bullying us for ages.

My Dad came in and he argued with the principal and told him that if the school couldn’t guarantee our safety then our family would send in people to the school to make sure we were safe. He meant it and so from then on the school made sure the bullying ended. I left soon after to go to another school anyway and I remember being terrified as I was going to a much bigger school and assumed the bullying was going to be way worse. But when I got there the culture of the school was great and there was no bullying like what we had gone through.

When I started college I didn’t know why but I kept getting put into woodwork and metalwork option courses that I’d never signed up for. I had won an academic scholarship in Year 9 and ended up getting excellence in NCEA 1, 2 and 3, but for a while someone there decided I needed to do a trade. There is nothing wrong with tradie work, I actually love it – that’s what I do during the holidays – but it’s unfair to look at me and decide: Oh yeah OK, that brown kid he can do woodwork even though he asked to do Financial Management.

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After I got excellence in Year 11, me and a mate got an invite to start going to meetings for excellence students. Well we turned up and the lady asked us what we were doing there because this was a meeting for excellence students. A lot of the Pakeha kids who were there started giggling at us. I can’t remember what we said to her but she never really welcomed us into her meetings. I’ve got to admit we paid no attention in her meetings. A few more times when we’d turn up she’d look at us and ask if we were in the right place. She never remembered our names. We were the only Maori and Pasifika boys there.

Over the years I’d get used to having to defend everything Maori, during class discussions other kids would argue that the Treaty is racist or that Maori scholarships are racist.

Once I got up to say that my scholarship came from my tribe not from the Government and someone shouted out “Hone Harawira” from the back of the class. Being a Maori kid in a mostly Pakeha world, yeah. You’re often put on the spot whether you like it or not. One minute you’re defending your tribe in class. Next minute you get told to lead the haka or speak at a powhiri for the school.

(To read more, please follow the link below…)

http://www.thatsus.co.nz/my-daily-experience-of-racism

Being Left Out Hurts: Moms, Stop ‘Social Engineering’, by Lisa Barr

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I heard a disturbing story recently from a friend, and I can’t seem to get it out of my head. It went something like this … the camp buses were leaving for an overnight camp in the Midwest, and one Mom somehow had access to get on one of the buses before departure. She literally managed to rope off (save) an entire section for eight 11-year-old girls. She stayed on the bus while the “Chosen 8” boarded and sat in their “designated” seats. Another girl, a new camper, got on the bus, who was the same age, and asked if she could join “those” girls. The Mom responded: “I’m sorry, but it’s reserved” and then she got off.

The clique had been formed and there was no room for “intruders.” (I’ll get to that Mom a little later…)

The new girl, let’s call her Sarah, had been given three simultaneous messages: 1. You are not invited. 2. You are not good enough. 3. This is “The Group” — and you are not part of it, so don’t even try.

One of the main reasons I started my blog GIRLilla Warfare ( www.girlillawarfare.com) was because of the overabundance of Middle School war stories that I had been hearing from so many moms. Same story, different players. And I hate to say this, but the root of this particular social evil, is usually (sadly) initiated by a group of Moms. One of our GW writers pointed out in another blog, that those Moms decide who is IN and who is OUT. It is political, and it is what we at GIRLilla Warfare call “Suburban Social Engineering” which ends up causing many children deep, unnecessary pain.

Don’t get me wrong. Many kids choose to be with whom they feel most comfortable, and that’s totally acceptable. It’s the piece in which the Moms not only helicopter but also patrol kids’ potential friendships that I’m focusing on here.

(To read more of this article, please follow the link below…)

How to Raise Kids With Virtually Indestructible Inner Strength, by Sunita Ramkumar.

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Did you know that Oprah Winfrey had an abused and neglected childhood followed by troubled adolescence peppered with drugs, teenage pregnancy, depression and even attempted suicide?

Today though, we know her as a larger-than-life figure with more success than most of us can imagine.

And yet, for every Oprah, there are thousands of kids, if not more, who didn’t make it. Oprah’s own half-sister for instance, died of reasons related to cocaine addiction.

Why is this? Why is it that some people have virtually indestructible inner strength that pulls them out of the direst circumstances while others crumble under far less complicated circumstances?

Is this inner strength something we can nurture in our kids?

Maybe our goal isn’t to raise the next Oprah, but can we make sure that no matter what life throws at them our kids will face it like champs and come out stronger for it?

I believe that small everyday experiences help in sculpting us and building that core of inner strength within us.

Inner Strength in Facing Everyday Challenges – A Simple Example

Let me share an experience about my 8 yr old daughter. It’s a rite of passagekind of challenge that all our kids face at some time or the other during their school years – you’ve probably had a similar experience too.

One day in school my daughter had a slight tiff with her friend and playmate.  Her friend was apparently more upset than her about the incident. The next day, her friend gathered a few other playmates and instigated them to gang up to confront my daughter.

As my daughter would tell me later, her first instinct at being caught unaware in this way was to either cry and run away from the situation or lash back at them in hurt and anger. A typical flight or fight response to feeling betrayed and singled out.

Instead of immediately reacting though, she took a moment to respond. She pulled her tiny self all straight and calmly stood her ground. She looked her friend in the eye and apologized for unintentionally hurting her. And then as calmly as she could, she pointed out to the others that there were simply no issues between them and her.

I was so proud of this response from her. I’d like to think that all our mom-daughter talks about “being strong inside” helped.

This is not an everyday reaction from a child. Her friends weren’t expecting it. They had expected her to be scared, angry or upset.

The whole situation turned around quickly after that. Within moments they had put the whole thing behind them and were back to playing together again.

That day when she came home, she had this huge smile on her as if she had won a big battle! I couldn’t be happier.

It may seem trivial to us grown-ups, but this was a very significant experience in my daughter’s life – a ‘win’ on top of which future wins can be built. A narrative to pull out in the face of future adversities.

(To read more of this article, follow the link below…)

http://afineparent.com/strong-kids/inner-strength.html

How to Foster a Positive Self-Image in Your Child (in a World of Social Media Pressure), by Jean Merrill

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When you think of your sweet child fending off social media pressure, does your heart nervously flutter a little?

Does the thought of these negative influences leave you hoping (praying) they’ll solidly, confidently, know themselves and the RIGHT thing to do?

Can we give them the tools to see through negative influences with superman-like laser vision?

Peer pressure is reaching new levels of influence in this digital age, where bullying can happen behind the veiled, impersonal curtain of an electronic device.

By the time our children have their first Facebook account, we hope to have instilled in them enough of a sense of self that they can objectively evaluate any peer-to-peer situation. We hope that they already have a strong foundation in communication skills, and firm grasp of their personal values. We hope that they internally know the right things to do, and are confident in the courage of their convictions.

This will give them the voice required to face interpersonal challenges and the ability to stand up for themselves, and those around them.

We can help our kids develop that strong sense of positive self-image. By starting early, and with a few language tricks, we can plant deep roots from which a strong, independent, confident, sense of self will grow.

Self-image in Toddlerhood. Is that a “Thing?”

Self-image is definitely a “thing” is toddlerhood, and *gasp* even before!  According to Dr. Sears, in his piece 12 Ways to Raise a Confident Child, it is never too early to start, and the sooner the better.  He states that the lack of a positive self-image often leads to behavior problems, and that “In the early years, a child’s concept of self is so intimately tied up with the mother’s concept of herself that a sort of mutual self-worth building goes on.”

So, start with your own sense of self worth.

*Groan* I know, but stay with me here… in the middle of the exhaustingly intense infant and toddler years, taking some time to work on yourself can be a key element in the long-term positive esteem for your whole family.

(To read more, follow the link below…)

http://afineparent.com/strong-kids/positive-self-image.html

“Love Yourself” (Anti-Bullying Song), by Khari Toure

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An awesome music video with a catchy beat, ideal for showing to any child who has ever been bullied.  “The Forever Years” likes this… and so do lots of others, judging from it’s online popularity.

This girl, like many others, is facing being bullied at school. When her Dad, Khari, hears about it, he has the perfect solution to fight back with these bullies in a way that leaves them powerless. No doubt, his heart was broken hearing that his beautiful daughter was being ridiculed. The world is different today, even if a child was bullied at school, when they went home they had a reprieve from it. But in today’s connected society, even in homes, bullies can make their way through social media.

So, using his talent, and also the power of social media, this loving Dad wrote a song for his daughters to let them know how loved they are and though there will always be those to criticize, they don’t have to rely on other people’s approval. They have to know they are beautiful and priceless. This is one very wise father with a perfect message for everyone to hear.

The Close Link Between Animal Abuse and Child Abuse, by Ginger Kadlec

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Child protection professionals have long recognized the close link between animal abuse and child abuse, as well as domestic violence.

That connection is so strong in fact, that as of January 1, 2015, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) considers animal maltreatment to be a crime against society and now charges it as aClass A Felony.

Michigan State University College of Law published an article about this abuse connection and saysmore than 80% of families being treated for child abuse were also involved in animal abuse.

Sadly, animals are often a perpetrator’s first victims, as animal abuse is often an entry into violence against people. “It is a matter of escalation: people who want to victimize start with something they can easily control, then they work their way up. A person who only feels powerful and in control while inflicting pain or death must continually sustain that ‘high’ by committing acts that are more heinous or morbid.” (Source: Michigan State University College of Law)

The report also cites some alarming statistics:

  • 100% of sexual homicide offenders examined had a history of cruelty towards animals
  • 70% of all animal abusers have committed at least one (1) other criminal offense
  • Nearly 40% of animal abusers have committed violent crimes against people

Vulnerable Victims

When animals in a home are abused or neglected, it is a warning sign that others in the household may not be safe.

The Michigan State University College of Law report goes on to state, “When animals in a home are abused or neglected, it is a warning sign that others in the household may not be safe.” This article further states that, regarding domestic violence or abuse, the batterer/abuser often targets pets in the home first, then goes after other potential victims in the household (i.e., children, spouses, elderly parents, etc.).

This happens time and time again in cases of child abuse and domestic violence. Perpetrators often threaten to harm, injure or even kill pets in the home as a way of controlling their child or adult victims. The Michigan State University report cites, “In cases of child abuse, perpetrators often abuse animals to exert their power and control over children and other vulnerable family members. In some cases, abusers will force children to sexually abuse, hurt, or kill a pet. Threats of animal abuse may also be used to intimidate children to keep silent about being victims of abuse.” For more, see “10 Reasons Children Don’t Disclose Abuse”.

Read more at the following link…

http://www.gingerkadlec.com/posts/the-close-link-between-animal-abuse-and-child-abuse/?utm_source=Ginger+Kadlec%3A+BeAKidsHero%E2%84%A2+Newsletter&utm_campaign=c33658deb7-Link_between_animal_and_child_abuse_2015-06&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_ef7c99686b-c33658deb7-186551997

 

Note from Editor, Kirsteen McLay-Knopp

For those in Aotearoa New Zealand (as no resources were listed in the article for NZ), follow these links for information about the following:

SPCA (Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) NZ:  http://rnzspca.org.nz/

Domestic Violence/ Women’s Refuge: https://www.womensrefuge.org.nz/

Child Abuse Issues:  http://www.cab.org.nz/vat/fp/va/Pages/Reportingabuse.aspx

http://childrensactionplan.govt.nz/action-plan/white-paper/reporting-child-abuse-/

Is Your Child Being Bullied? 9 Steps You Can Take as a Parent, by Janet Lehman

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At some point, your child will be picked on or will have his or her feelings hurt by others. We all have our trials and tribulations with our kids, no matter who we are. An unavoidable part of living is finding solutions to problems, even when they are not easy or comfortable.

In my opinion, bullying is a real problem that needs to be solved as a family. Our son was bullied in middle school and high school. We lived in a small rural community where he went to elementary school; the teachers were very aware of all the kids and very attentive. In some ways it was an ideal school. Unfortunately, they had no junior high or high school in our community, so we had to make the choice to send our son to a large urban school nearby.
To read more, follow this link:

http://www.empoweringparents.com/Is-Your-Child-Being-Bullied.php

Tech Savvy – Danger Ignorant: Kids and the Internet, by John Somerfield, Senior Constable and School Community Officer, New Zealand Police

 

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For  young  people,  the  internet  has  become  an  important  source  of entertainment  and  leisure,  a  means  to  communicate  and  form meaningful relationships with others, and a platform for creativity and self expression (www.netsafe.org.nz).

This being said, the internet is like a big city. It makes sense that mums and dads would never leave a child or young person to wander about on their own.  It would be easy to imagine them turning a corner and finding themselves in a street where they are not safe.

We can be tempted to throw up our hands and say, “They know everything there is to know about this stuff. It’s a waste of time even trying to learn.”

The thing to remember is that young people may be tech savvy, but they tend to be danger ignorant. They will jump into things and sometimes the results can be less than ideal.  It is helpful to think about internet education the same as you would when teaching a child to ride a bike. You start out in the backyard, moving to the driveway and then to the footpath. Then out onto the road, with you riding behind them. You get them a good helmet and some reflectorised things to go on their bike; you tell them about the rules and about your expectations.   You know that road safety is a serious business.  Hazards on the road become clearer when we jump on our own bike and ride with our kids.

There are many internet offences that young people can get caught up in. These  include  threats,  harassment,  blackmail,  fraud,  objectionable  content and grooming, all the way down to things like miscommunications that lead to anger, and then on to physical violence in our community.  If your child gets caught up, it is important that we keep our heads. We need to count to ten before we react. We want to be the adults they trust when they go looking for advice.

# Go to www.netsafe.org.nz.   If you are not confident with computers, you can print off a copy of the Staying Safe Online booklet. Netsafe is a one-stop shop for anything internet. You can find advice on a huge range of issues including the latest scams and what to do about them.

# Have a chat to your teen about what they are doing online and who they are talking to.

# Set your family rules early. In our family we do not allow computers, Ipods or other internet capable devices in the bedroom. We use them in a place where an adult can see and help if required.

# If you don’t understand it, try it. Take the time to improve your knowledge by actually using the services, tools and apps that your kids use.

# Each device needs its own content filter. Content filters are available for sites  such  as  YouTube,  available  as  apps  on  Ipods;  and  you  can  even purchase a modem that filters everything that comes into the home.

# Remember that a red label on your movie or game means it is restricted.There are penalties for letting underage kids or teens see or play. R13  R16 R18. In New Zealand the fine is up to $3,000 even when you are unaware of the rating.Have a look at the new booklet on the NetSafe site for ways to stay safe on Facebook, YouTube, Google, Microsoft, Yahoo!, Trade Me and Twitter. http://www.netsafe.org.nz/wp-content/uploads/Staying-Safe-Online-NZ.pdf 

Originally published in the Star newspaper, Dunedin NZ, 2014.  “The Forever Years” would like to thank John Somerfield for agreeing to republish here.