Bullying: A Big Complicated Problem with Many Simple Solutions

If each one of us untangled one string at a time...

Friday, May 15, 2015

Plz Help Me

I've taken my foot off the pedal the past few months.

I have to admit to fatigue.  At times, I feel like a cheerleader for a team that only wins a few games a year and can't seem to fill a stadium.

The issue of bullying finally started getting some attention for, unfortunately, tragic reasons. First there was Columbine, then national stories of young kids and suicide and then along came Bully, the documentary that exposed some of the unthinkable ways peers treat each other.

Politicians, including the President, jumped in, laws were created and companies started sponsoring bullying prevention initiatives.  All good but I fear bullying will become the latest issue to fade into the background of the national consciousness just like homelessness or AIDS or the environment.  In other words, if you're in it for the long haul, you have to deal with the boomerang effect.  When I talk about bullying prevention, I can now see that dreaded look in people's eyes that say, "Been there, done that."

Plz Help Me

Just when I started thinking that I was wasting my time,  I opened my email and there was an anonymous message that simply read, "Plz help me."  I tried to reach back but there was no way to do it.   It originally was sent to me through a thread on The Bully Project web site.   Luckily I saw that they list a help line and because I haven't stopped worrying about this person, I hope they reached out.

It doesn't matter if bullying is the topic du jour.  It is still a source of incredible pain for thousands of kids and their parents. Missing out on a lighthearted childhood is it's own tragedy.

My area of interest in this big tangled ball of a mess called "bullying" is the bigger topic of resilience and leadership.  My theory is that we have to start focusing on character education at a much younger age and parents need to be at the center of the effort.  It needs to be simple, affordable, sustainable, creative and positive.

In the fall, I will start a series for young parents on how to nurture leadership skills at home and encourage it in school because the more "little leaders" in the classroom, the less likely bullying will be a big problem.  Good all around.

In the meantime, I like to share really good resources.  My pick of the day is the book "Wonder," by R.J. Palacio.  The truth is that kids perceived as "different," whether it's a learning, physical or emotional challenge are picked on.  Wonder will inspire you to be a better parent and will give you an insight to the true meaning of leadership, resilience and spirit.

If you're reading this, it means you care, too.  Thank you.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Did You Ever Know Red Hood Doing Some Good Down By The Bay?

Raffi randomly came up in a conversation my husband and I were having the other day about how frustrating it must be to be a "pioneer."  We were discussing how we knew people 25 years ago that were talking about climate change and when a few of my "far out" cousins were discussing nutrition, we would just roll our eyes and reach for the bologna sandwiches on white bread followed by  twinkies. "Life's too short! The gooey white fluff in the middle makes me happy! "

Now I'm pouring over books like Anticancer, making rice with turmeric and buying the organic version of everything...which is what got my husband and I talking about how long it takes the general population to change. And how hard it must have been for the brave souls who knew better and dared to have a voice.

The children's music of Raffi was undeniably the house favorite throughout the childhoods of our four children.  Dancing to "Down by the Bay" was almost a requirement for anyone coming to visit.

One day I heard on the news that Raffi had refused to have his CDs sold in those obnoxious plastic jewel boxes because they were bad for the environment.  Remember, sugar cereals were still a staple in our house, as well as the kind of really orange cheese that was individually wrapped in plastic.  I thought, "Whoa! That's over the top!"

Of course now I know better and my respect for Raffi goes way beyond his talent for bringing joy by singing songs that make you want to jump around with your kids.

I've always thought deep in the recesses of my brain that Raffi and I would have a lot in common some day...and the day is here.

He's still a pioneer but this time it's about children and the critical issue of internet safety.  He was right about the environment and now he's right about the failure of technology companies to protect our kids.

After the tragic suicide of Amanda Todd, Raffi co-founded the Red Hood Project and has written Lightweb Darkweb about online safety.  Parent education is key but who will stand up against some of the giants who are not sincerely stepping up to protect our kids?  And honestly, I believe parent and child internet education should begin in kindergarten or first grade.

Now that I'm older, I can recognize a hero much quicker.  Raffi Rocks.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Kid President says #Makeithappy Online

Once again, Kid President is full of good ideas.  Seems as if Coca Cola thinks so, too.

Whether we're the type of parents who diligently talk to our children about online safety or the type of parents who are afraid of our children's "new neighborhood"  and just hope for the best, most of us don't talk to our kids about how to make it happy.

Countering negativity online is within everyone's reach and children should be encouraged to always fill someone's bucket whether they're in the schoolyard or are online.

Let's turn it around so that negative comments are the exception instead of the rule.

#Makeithappy...and for sound advice about kids, technology and all things media I suggest Common Sense Media as one of the best resources out there.

Positivity.  It's also Gluten Free.  Right, Kid President?