Archives for September, 2012
Did you know October is National Anti-Bullying Awareness Month? To kick off the month of education, advocacy, prevention and intervention please keep checking in on the blog. I'll try to keep up with the numerous events and news worthy stories out there - there are a lot!
The film "Bully" propelled this topic into the forefront of our nation's mind. Bullying can no longer be minimized, disregarded and ignored. The dialogue continues on how to best address this issue in school communities. More and more resources are available to help educators, students and families address this topic. My belief is that regardless of what programs a school community puts in place, intervention and prevention efforts must happen concurrently in order to minimize the proliferation of bullying.
Whitney Kropp, a sophomore at Ogemaw Heights High School in Michigan, was recently voted in as part of the homecoming dance court. For many teen-aged girls, this is an exciting way to start the new school year. For Whitney though, her election on the court was part of a cruel prank a la many a teen movie. This prank is only one example of the bullying Whitney has encountered; she's been ridiculed both in school and online as well. As a result, once-silent bystanders, both local and afar, have come to her side in a show of support.
As a yoga practitioner for 10 years I was delighted to read this post about yoga as a prevention tool against student violence. Rob Schware interviewed Dee Marie, who founded, Calming Kids (CK): Creating a Non-Violent World. CK has run pilot groups to prove that yoga indeed can help young people! A tenant of yoga that I learned early on in my practice was compassion - compassion for myself, for my fellow yogis in class and for my fellow man. Compassion - at least for me in yoga - comes in the form of understanding that if I cannot get into a certain position (asana) that's ok, this is where I am today. A lack of compassion can look like forcing yourself into a pretzel-like position to only hurt yourself, or looking at another yogi critically in class wondering, "Why can she do it but I can't!" I've found that without compassion in life or in yoga, the ability to accept where you are and who you are in this moment is difficult. So how does this help our kids and bullying?
The New York Times and our own PsychCentral.com site reported earlier this week that young people who are autistic are far more likely to be bullied than other children. Why is that? Autism falls under the category of pervasive developmental disorders, a group of disorders that manifest in delays or a lack of development of social and communication skills. We don't know why these disorders occur. The symptoms of the disorder are the exact reasons that make young people with autism vulnerable.
The weeks following Labor Day bring the start of a new school year. For some students, there is a palpable excitement to return back to school, to see friends and swap summer vacation stories and meeting new teachers. For others though, the there is a fearful hope that maybe this year is the year things will be different. Since bullying is in the forefront of public consciousness, let's work to make our schools safe for all students, teachers and staff; as we've seen over the summer adults can be bullied too. What can we do to help everyone in our school communities start off on the right foot? Here are some tips for students, parents, teachers and staff: For Students: There is a saying plastered all over the New York City subway system, if you see something, say something. The same is true about bullying in schools! If you see a fellow student being targeted, ask if he/she is ok afterward, encourage the target to talk to an adult, or step in stand up for the target (I know much easier said than done!) If you can let the targeted student they are not alone, it'll help them feel less scared and perhaps will be able to feel empowered to advocate for himself/herself.