Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Children Being Taught To Fight Back

Well, not quite. The media, as usual, has overstated and overblown this report. A school district in Massachusetts is CONSIDERING ditching the failed law enforcement policy of run and hide in our elementary schools. They are CONSIDERING teaching kids, in a last ditch effort when death is eminent, to throw books, chairs, backpacks, and other items at an armed intruder in an effort to distract their attention. I don't know. This makes sense to me. What do you think?

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Parents Must Demand That Schools Protect Victims

I just wanted to further comment on the High School Hazing post from a few days ago. Even though laws were broken and 11 girls were humiliated, mistreated, and possibly had their lives endangered when they were blindfolded, bound, and thrown into a swimming pool, the 11 victims reported being harassed at school. The parents have asked the school what it will do to protect their children, but the school had not responded at the time of the article I read.

What these parents need to do is stop ASKING the Principal what he will do and start TELLING him and the District Superintendent exactly what they will do to protect further humiliation and victimization of the 11 students.  It is shocking how bullies continue to get away with their violence often encouraged by the very INACTION of school officials!!!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Study Shows Technolgy Robbed Family Of Social Skills

I believe I saw this on Good Morning America this morning. They conducted a study of two families. One family was plugged-in to the web 24/7, the other family had a wall mounted, old-fashioned telephone and electric typewriters. The swap took place over the course of one week.
To make a long story short, the high-tech family was absolutely crazy without their cell phones, computers, ipods, etc. Meanwhile, the other family did not even know how to turn on the laptops they were given. They said they missed the connection they had before the technology came into their home and could not wait to get rid of the gadgets and go outside and play. 

Sadly, the high tech family did not experience the closeness that the other family had sans gadgets. If I'm not mistaken, that would be because the technology has robbed them of the social skills necessary to form a strong family bond. They never had that bond in the first place thanks to the gadgets and multi-media exposure. One of the teenage daughters said that she was completely socially isolated during the week-long experiment. It is a sad testament to what our American society has become.

Friday, December 5, 2008

CROC Warning!!!!

Whoa! I just heard this in the news this morning. A woman is suing CROC (the maker of those gummy clogs that all the little ones are wearing these days) for $7.5 million after her son's big toe was mangled by an escalator. Poor little guy! While the amount is ridiculously excessive, I agree with the lawsuit. As a result, CROC has admitted, according to the Channel 5 report this morning, that there have been over 200 similar incidents world-wide!

Keep those little piggies safe!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

High School Hazing Gone Sooooo Wrong!

I just read a very disturbing post on today about a case of high school hazing gone very wrong written by fellow blogger Jennifer Satterwhite, founder of of which I am a member. This incident happened back on July 25th, but is only now getting a bit of media attention. I know I did not hear any mention of this school violence over the summer.

Apparently, 7 varsity cheerleaders from Katy Morton Ranch High School in Katy, Texas were supposed to take 11 cheerleaders from the school’s junior varsity squad to breakfast in their pajamas. Unfortunately, the seven girls decided to show up at 4 a.m., making some parents a bit nervous, to take the girls out for breakfast at IHOP. Instead, they drove the girls to a private residence, blindfold their unsuspecting victims, tied up the girls’ hands with duct tape, and threw them into a swimming pool!

Are you outraged yet??? I know I am!!! I once knew of a man who drove off the road and ended up in just 1 foot of water in the dark. The gentleman did not know how to swim, panicked, and drowned. It was very tragic. All he had to do was stand up. It is shocking, but these terrible accidents actually happen.

The varsity cheerleaders were indicted on hazing charges. I am furious to learn of the girls’ attorneys are stating that it was just “poor judgment”, and that it is unfortunate that the girls have to go through this ordeal during the holidays. What!!!!!!??????? Poor bullies!!!!!! I am sick and tired of hearing how the bullies didn’t mean any harm. Yes they did!!!! Otherwise, this would not have happened and they would not be facing criminal charges!!!

Some people are saying that this was not a crime. Actually, yes it is. The state of Texas has a law known as the Anti-hazing Law of 1995. Oh, and kidnapping is a crime, too!!! When the bullies decided to blind and tie up their victims, they committed another crime!!! The list of charges must be a mile long. Other people think that these girls should not be held accountable for their actions. That would be a HUGE MISTAKE!

A clear message needs to be sent out to BULLYLAND, that violence against others WILL NOT BE TOLERATED. PERIOD. I hope that justice will be served in Texas. The rest of the country and BULLYLAND are watching.

To add insult to injury the victims have been harassed at school during the on-going, criminal investigation. Big surprise! In this society, when we report bullying and the school administration does nothing to stop the bullying, our children are re-victimized. According to one dad, David Cruz, whose daughter was one of the victims, “The victims in this case are being treated like the guilty parties.”

The school has done nothing to protect the victims. Nor has the school assured parents of the victims that their children will be safe. When the Houston Chronicle asked the school what it would do respond to the victim’s parents’ concerns, the school had no comment.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Parental Control Over Music Downloads Has To Improve

I don't know about you, but I am shocked at the video images and song lyrics that our children are exposed to with the click of a button. Like I said yesterday, my husband and I were so surprised by a song that a friend was sharing with our 11 year old daughter, that we outlawed rap in our home and on our children's future ipods (coming soon on December 25th).

I think that we parents are so busy with other things, especially in a household with 3 or more children, that our attention is easily diverted from what our kids are seeing and hearing on sights such as You Tube and My Space. If you are completely aware of everything that your children are seeing and hearing, ask yourself if it is appropriate for your child to hear and see at his or her age.

I thought policing TV and movie images was tough! The Worldwide Web is a force to be reckoned with. I know it is tough, but we have to take the time to do a better job of controlling the images and messages our children are being bombarded with on a daily basis. It is vital that we do. After all, if we don't control it, who will? Ask yourself, Do I want mass media controlling my kids?

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Survivors Are Poor Role Models

As a huge fan of Survivor, it pains me to see Corinne and Randy's despicable behavior every Thursday night. They act like a couple of spoiled, rotten brats. I have to say that Corinne's behavior is of most concern to me as a mom and as a human being. In this past week's episode, Corinne completely lost control spewing hatred for fellow survivor Sugar.

Corinne sounded just like a schoolyard bully to me. I say that because she went on and on about how she was superior to Sugar because of her college education and superior intellect. All I know is that as a human being, Sugar is miles above Corinne and Randy. I continue to use their bad behavior as lessons for my children on how NOT TO BEHAVE!

In my opinion, both Randy and Corinne could use a strong dose of HUMILITY. It will be administered over the next couple of weeks as they get voted off the island. Actually, Randy is already off. Thanks Goodness!

The Media Is In Control Of Our Kids

Every which way we parents look these days, big media seems to be in control of our kids. It is a scary time for parents and, though they have no clue, it is an even scarier time for America's youth. As I drive down the street, I see teens walking to and from school with earplugs deafening their ears all the while staring at a text they have just received on their cell phones. They are completely oblivious to what is going on around them. This is just plain dangerous and foolish.

Teens are going so far as to whip out their cell phones at parties and at the dinner table! We have to draw the line somewhere. I am not saying don't give your kids cell phones and ipods. My own children just got cell phones in the past year and Santa will finally be bringing the long awaited and coveted ipods this Christmas. (My oldest child is 13.) What I am advocating is laying some ground rules when handing over these insidious devices. And when they misbehave, these are the first casualties. Like Dr. Phil says, "You gotta speak in terms of their currency."

My husband and I have recently agreed that rap music will not be allowed in our house. We came to this conclusion about 2 hours ago when our youngest daughter's girlfriend introduced her, and me, to a website with music and video. The lyrics that caught our parental attention were: KKK, dying, killing,...

I quickly shut it down. I know it was a total buzz kill for my daughter, but TOO BAD! I seriously doubt that her girlfriend's conservative parents would approve of such messages! But then again, they most likely have no clue that their 11 year old is listening to such rubbish. The girl has an older sibling and is apparently exposed to things ahead of her psychological ability to comprehend them.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Mind Blowing

I never cease to be amazed. Three months ago, I signed up for a Parent Educator course at my kids' middle school. Finally, I was notified last week that my first five hour session was yesterday.

When I arrived, I was stunned to learn that the mom of one of my youngest child's bullies was in charge of the anti-bullying, anti-drug, and alcohol program! Granted the child bullied my daughter relentlessly back in 4th grade (roughly a year and a half ago), but still, to see her mom running the show just seemed outrageous to me. It just goes to show how clueless people are about their children's anti-social behavior.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Our Children Are Our Mark On The World

I was watching the end of a movie with my 13 year old yesterday. The father leaned over his sleeping son as he tucked him into bed. He lamented that he was so busy trying to make his mark on the world that he failed to see that his CHILD was his mark. Wiping the tears from my eyes, I had to make a quick exit to find a box of tissue. Powerful stuff.

Another High School Shooting - November 13, 2008

CNN just reported that there is a current (11:30 a.m. EST) and dangerous situation developing at Dillard High School in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida today. Police were seen examining and photographing a handgun on the trunk of a squad car in the middle of a Ft. Lauderdale street. Details are sketchy as the situation is still developing.

It was just reported that Dillard High School is in lockdown and that parents are not being allowed access and should stay away. One girl has reportedly been shot and critically injured and another girl is reported to have become sick upon eating her lunch. It was not clear if the two incidents were related or not.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

On Veterin's Day

I was watching a new broadcast this morning and was touched by 3 moms whose 3 sons had given their lives in service of our great country in Iraq. One mom said of her son's final moment, "You feel like you should have jumped across the ocean to hold him in his final moment." Powerful stuff. God Bless our troops and their families. We are eternally grateful for all they sacrifice for our beloved United States of America.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Bullies' Brains Enjoy Others' Pain

On Friday, one of the major networks reported on a study by the University of Chicago that concludes that bullies enjoy other's pain. According to the study, bully subjects brain scans showed they experienced pleasure while viewing people being bullied.

Great. Another out for the bullies. I can just see it now. The bullies'/criminals' defense will be, "It wasn't my fault. I have a cerebral defect." I do hope that researchers and news agencies will be responsible in reporting their findings.

I say this because the doctor being interviewed referred to the subjects in the study as being teens with "Conduct Disorder", while the reporter continually referred to the study subjects as "bullies". The individuals studied were described as clearly more aggressive in nature than your average "run of the mill" bully. Once again, the nature of bullying seems to be played down. We all need to be crystal clear on the definition of bullying:


Inexcusable Behavior from Survivor Corine

I was watching Survivor last night with my 13 year old daughter. It has become a weekly ritual for us. I was shocked to hear Corine, angry at Suzy's honest comments, declare on national television, "I am a very vindictive person and I will get my revenge!"

I quickly looked at my daughter and let her know that Corine's behavior was not only unchristian, but completely unacceptable. It bothers me that grown ups have so little self-control these days especially on the reality programs that are aimed at our children. I often find myself using their bad behavior to teach my children how NOT to behave.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Halloween Costume Manufacturers Cross the Line

It has been happening for years. Children's Halloween costumes get sexier and slinkier every year. This year costume manufacturers seemed to go over the top at pushing sexy costumes on children and their families.

Parents can complain all they want, but the bottom line is our money does the talking. We simply have to tell our children "NO". They can handle it and they will find an appropriate costume. What ever happened to making up your own costume at home?

Throw Away Kids in Nebraska

What is going on in Nebraska?!!!! Parents are dropping off their pre-teen and teenage children at local hospitals and running! This is child abandonment! How dare they do something so unconscionable!!!! And what numskulls wrote the law that allows this despicable act? It is an outrage!!!! Parents of Nebraska get a conscience!!!!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Bully Coach

Some one asked me what to do when your child's coach is a bully. My oldest daughter plays on a competitive soccer team. She has come home numerous times upset that her trainer (not her coach) yells at her constantly during practice. Out on the field on game day, you can hear abusive coaches yelling at their players. Unfortunately, some of them even cuss at their players.

There are a couple of things you can do. First, you can talk to the coach or trainer about their inappropriate and aggressive behavior. Coaches can be very competitive and they may not even realize how badly they are behaving and what a poor example they are setting for the children they coach. If that does not work, contact your league. Your league, no matter what the sport, will not tolerate such behavior from trainers and coaches.

If all else fails and this is a real issue for you and your child, it is up to you as the parent to say enough is enough. Nobody bullies my kid. Be prepared to pull your child off the team. He or she may miss out on a part of the season, but the new season is just around the corner. There are lots of other sports going on as well. Bottom line, you have to do what is best for your child. Good luck!

Betrayed By The Vice Principal Part II

I was nervous as I approached Connie's front door given the aggressive approach by the Vice Principal, even though he clearly was on her side. The door opened and I was lovingly greeted by a very, happy dog. Connie was kind and invited me inside. Once I was able to navigate my way past the jumping dog, we sat in her living room. I began by apologizing for the Vice Principal's involvement and assured her that it never should have happened.

As soon as I brought up the fact that 3 different girls had approached my daughter saying that Jen had a problem with her, she became immediately defensive. Connie told me point blank that "PARENTS SHOULDN'T GET INVOLVED." I could not believe my ears!  I could not have this discussion without at least making mention of her daughter's bullying the previous year that did not stop until I got involved. Even then, the bullying did not stop for about a week. It only stopped when the 5th grade teacher threatened Jen and her friend with suspension.

Then, Connie said, "Did the apology mean nothing?" I responded that while I appreciated the apology, the words "We didn't mean to hurt you" weren't true. The bullying persisted for months and yes, the girls did intend to hurt my daughter.  Just as Jen's continued caddy remarks during the summer were intended to hurt my child.

I've heard other parents of bullies say this before. So, I was not surprised to hear her say, "So, what do you want to do?" I asked if she was open to getting the girls together in a neutral place to clear the air. Still clearly in denial, Connie did not appear thrilled at the idea of a meeting, but agreed to meet at the park down the street. On my way out, she invited my husband and I to a costume party she was having that night. I thanked her for listening and for her invitation.

Once again on my way to my friend's party, I knew that given Connie's demeanor, she would probably back out of the meeting in the park. Sure enough, the day of the meeting the phone rang. It was Jen calling for Hally. Hal hung up the phone and went running through the house shouting that she was looking for her shoes. My husband and I were struck by her excitement to meet Jen half way down the court. Off she went. It was one of the longest hours I have ever spent. I knew Hal wanted to handle it on her own. My husband and I thought how odd it was that Connie didn't call me to ask if the girls could meet down the street. Why couldn't she call? It was clearly Connie's way of cutting me out of the picture. Remember, she doesn't believe that parents should get involved in their kids' issues.

This is exactly what is wrong in this country! Parents do not understand the nature of bullying. Bullying is about an IMBALANCE OF POWER! The bully bullies and the victim cowers. There is no level playing field! It is up to parents to level the playing field, help children talk through their conflicts, and most importantly, achieve reconciliation. Without parent involvement and reconciliation, there is no end to bullying. We have to do better!

Betrayed By The Vice Principal Part I

A week ago my daughter Hally informed me that 3 different girls had come up to her and said that Jen, her old bully from 5th grade last year, had something against her. I was not naive enough to believe that Jen's bullying was over. There were no real consequences for her bullying in elementary school and now at a new school, she starts over with a clean slate, right?

So, after losing a few days of sleep, I decided to contact the school to get advice on what to do and to let them know about the situation. I was immediately put through to the Vice Principal. He refused to meet with me and insisted we discuss it over the phone before he made a dash to an appointment. Not impressed, I began to tell him what was happening. He spoke over me the entire time apparently trying to impress me with his 30 years of experience in these matters. He flat out refused to hear what I had to say stating that my daughter would have to go into his office and fill out a written statement. He said he would do nothing until he had a statement.

While I appreciate that this middle school clearly takes bullying seriously, I felt that filling out a statement was a bit harsh at this juncture. I told the vice principal that I intended to speak with Jen's mom, as we are neighbors. He then said, "Oh, you know Connie"(not her real name). Surprised to hear him call her by first name, I realized he knew her well.  Did I mention that Jen's mom is a power mom?

As the Vice Principal would not listen to a word I had to say, he said he would call my daughter in the next morning. When I hung up, I was very uneasy with his plan. The next morning at 6:30 a.m. I left him a voicemail message to let him know that I did not want him to get involved and that I would handle it myself. I also sent him an email. As I hadn't said anything about it to Halle, I walked into the school office to tell him personally that I did not want his involvement. The secretary said that he was in a meeting with parents. Wow, this guy is busy with issues I thought to myself.

On the way home, I could see Jen's mom in her driveway on her cell phone having a heated discussion. I say heated because she threw her arms up in the air. When she saw me, she walked back into her house. I called the school a number of times and was told that the VP was still in a meeting with parents. I called Jen's mom's house several times and was told that she was not in. I finally got through to the VP. When I told him that I did not want him involved at this time, he said, "Oh, I just met with Jen's parents."

Stunned, I reminded him that he said that school policy was to do nothing until there is a written statement.  He said that he decided to not follow his protocol this time and had a great conversation with the parents again citing his 30 years of experience.  I was furious! I told him that I was concerned that his contact with them may have created a hostile situation.  He denied it and said that the parents are willing to do whatever it takes to rectify things.

In utter disbelief, I called Jen's mom again.  Again I was told that she was not home.  A few minutes later, driving to a Pampered Chef's Party at a friend's house, I passed by Connie's house and saw her car in the driveway, so I turned around, parked, and knocked on the door.  (To be continued)

Our Mess Becomes Our Message

I heard these words this morning and it struck a chord. It is true that our difficulties (our messes) impassion us to take action to fight what's wrong in this world be it bullying, selling sex to our children, breast cancer awareness, etc. In the end our mess becomes our message. I guess it is as it should be.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

1(886) SPEAK UP

I caught a glimpse of a TV ad at the end of the summer announcing a new national hotline:
1(886) SPEAK UP. This number is provided for students, teachers, and parents who hears anything suspicious regarding an individuals threats to hurt anyone at school.

I only saw this ad once, so it is clearly not being properly communicated to the public. I do hope that it will get more air time in the future. It could be key to stopping school shootings. Please keep this number in mind and pass it around.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Rumors: The Weapon of Choice

It is shocking what is going on in our elementary schools and junior high schools. Our children are in a total frenzy over RUMORS. They love ‘em! Girls and boys are all too eager to discover a child’s secret and spread it around the playground, especially if it divulges a child's crush. Often, it is to the detriment of the intended victim.

Rumors are the weapon of choice for bullies. They spread lies around school to destroy their victims. My own daughter has been the victim of rumors spread around her school by her bully. It is hard to prove who started the rumors and the bullies minions do not tell for fear of retaliation by the bully.

I have been wracking my brain for the past year for an answer to how to stop rumors. I have concluded that just as PARENTS are the answer to stopping the bullying, they are also the key to stopping RUMORS.

How do we stop the rumors? We simply communicate with our children. We ask them if they are hearing rumors at school. We discuss what they have heard. We ask our children if they have been targeted by rumors. If they have completed the third grade, they have most likely been the butt of some kind of rumor.

Lastly, we educate our children! We need to teach our children at home that spreading RUMORS is NOT OKAY! They need to be told that RUMORS are lies and not to be believed. They need to be told that some one spreads lies to hurt some one else and that it is bullying. If a RUMOR is about them, they need to go discuss it with their teacher. And teachers need to be open to receiving reports of RUMORS and handle them according to school policy and NOT treat the report as “tattling”. RUMORS are intended to hurt the target always.

I am so fed up with the rumors going around my kid’s junior high that I am going in to speak with the principal about it as soon as I can schedule an appointment with her. If you are aware of RUMORS going around your child’s school, I encourage you to do the same. PARENTS ARE THE ANSWER TO STOP BULLYING.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Communication With Your Child Is Key

In a previous post about one woman's experience (Michelle) when she reported to another mom that her daughter had sent sexually explicit text messages to her 12 year old son, Michelle seemed rattled by the other mom's defensive tone and ultimate denial. I too was called a liar when I contacted my daughter's bully's mom. I know how shocking and insulting that felt.

Mark Consuelos, a panel member on Oprah, quickly pointed out how the fact that Michelle's son communicated with her was a great testiment to her parenting and that Michelle should be focused on that. I agree. She did what was best for her son. She did the right thing. Neither Michelle nor I could control the indignant reaction of the offending child's mother upon hearing unpleasant news about her child's behavior.

After reporting bullying of any kind, it is important to stay focused on what was right about the entire episode. In this case, Michelle can be proud that her son felt comfortable in confiding in her. Even more so in this day and age when peer pressure dictates that our children avoid communication with parents! Good job Michelle!

Parental Denial - A Real Danger

In an episode of Oprah this past week, the Friday Panel discussed a difficult parenting issue that Michelle from Atlanta, Georgia needed advice on. Her 12 year old son received numerous text messages form a 12 year old girl offering him oral sex. Michelle did not know whether or not she should contact the mother. The panel rightly advised her to definitely let the girl’s mother know that her daughter was contemplating engaging in risky behavior. I know that I would want to know!

On a follow up interview, Michelle told the panel that the mother was instantly defensive. She told Michelle that her daughter would never do such a thing and that she did not know ANYTHING about sex let alone oral sex. This mom then went on to attack Michelle saying that it was her son’s fault. This was my experience when we reported bullying at school. My daughter also ended up being re-victimized by a parent and principal in denial.

Clearly, we parents are not capable of believing that our children could do bad things. This mother is way out of touch. By the age of 12, some 10% of children are already engaging in sexual relations. I know that my 11 and 12 year old girls are hearing and seeing things that I would never approve of at their middle school. I am often shocked and mortified by some of the things they are being exposed to on a daily basis at school in this sex crazed society. Children are eager to grow up over night and they think that having sex is the ticket. The bottom line is PARENTAL DENIAL is a very dangerous thing for our children and their future.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Who's Controlling Your Kid?

As I observe the various cliques of boys and girls around my children's school, it is clear to me that the cliques are controlled by one child. It may appear that 2 children are in control, but if you take a closer look, it really is one. One child controls the masses. From that lofty position, often that child rules the school. The supreme rulers dictate to the group. The minions then carry out their orders which usually have to do with spreading rumors around the school to humiliate the rulers' targets to either eliminate them as competition or, having already alienated the targets, to keep the targets in their place.

We parents need to ask our children who is in control of their group? Who calls the shots? Are you pleased with the answer? Is it your child? Next, you need to find out how your child is treated in the group? How is your child used by the group? Is your child the one in control of the group? That adds a different dimension to your follow up, in my opinion. Is the group inclusive? Does the leader have a particular DISLIKE for someone in the group? Is their discord within the group?

Our children have free rein at school. No one in overseeing them in the hallways and playgrounds. No one is calling them out on their bad behavior. The rulers of the school are calling all the shots and the targets and other children say nothing not out of loyalty, but out of FEAR.

Bully Politicians

What is going on in this country? It is shameful the way our presidential candidates are intentionally humiliating each other! Their nothing more than middle aged Bullies!!!!! My children are of the age that they can watch the debates and learn a good lesson in BULLYING??? No thank you! The popularity of the candidates takes a dive every time they make a negative comment toward the other! They know this! So, why do they continue to bully each other????? I am appalled by the behavior of our leaders. They can and should be above it all. They set a bad example for younger generations.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Cyber Predator Alert

Half of all children from age 8 to 12 now carry cell phones. For this reason, it has become the perfect tool for child predators. Predators are using text messaging to lure children. Children’s social lives revolve around their cell phones. Children can come across these predators in various chat rooms and random text messaging. The predators make contact with them telling them they are cute and they like them. Predators lie about their age and text message with minors for days gaining their confidence. Then they manipulate the children to sneak away from home to meet. Often, the predator is waiting outside in a car.

Radar My Mobile Watch Dog is a new technology that parents can implement to protect their children from child predators. For $10 per month, parents can monitor text messages, pictures, and phone calls being sent and received from a child’s cell phone. Parents can program an approved list of contacts directly into their child’s phone. When an unapproved call comes in, it goes to the parent’s phone for review.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Don’t Let the Mean Kids Use Your Child

Mean kids use other kids like henchmen carrying out their every order. Unfortunately, the henchman could be your son or daughter. Henchmen perform a variety of duties such as reconnaissance and intel, delivering nasty messages from the mean kids, etc.

Recently, my daughter was sent by a boy she called her friend to break up with his girlfriend of 2 days. He then asked another girl out (that’s what kids call going study now) who he dumped 2 days later. At this rate, he should be through the entire 6th grade by Thanksgiving!

Feeling badly, my daughter couldn’t bring herself to deliver this hurtful blow to the girl. So, Halley approached the girl’s friend who is one of the major bullies that tormented her all of 4th and 5th grade. The next day this boy text messaged my daughter saying that he was no longer her friend. What a coward! And what a punk to treat girls in such a despicable manner!

I was upset that my daughter would let herself be used by this boy to do his dirty work. I fear that it only put her back in harm’s way. Time will tell. It seems like it should be obvious to our children that they should not act as messengers or henchmen for the queen bees and bullies, but they need to be told.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

There is no Santa or Easter Bunny

I could not believe my ears this morning when it was reported that a 3rd grade school teacher left her class in tears after she announced that there is no Santa and there is no Easter Bunny. She then went on to espouse upon these 8 year old children her religious beliefs! It is shocking and shameful!

I don't care how new this woman is to teaching, everyone knows that it is NOT a school teacher's duty to let the proverbial cat out of the bag regarding Santa and the Easter Bunny. What's more, religion is kept out of the classroom for a lot of obvious reasons! If children are at Catholic or Jewish or Muslim school, then one knows what will be taught to one's children. In any other setting, a teacher forcing her religious views on her students is unforgivable and she should be fired for doing so.

“You have to teach people how to treat you.”

I was flipping channels again today. Something it took my husband years to teach me. Tyra Banks was interviewing two young men, one of which confessed to doing something despicable to the other. Just then, Tyra said something brilliant. She said to the victim, “You have to teach people how to treat you.”

Apparently, we are not teaching our children how to treat other children in this country. Daily, I am shocked at the behavior I witness at school. My children often describe the most despicable behavior by children at their school. This is why I started this blog.

Tyra is right. You have to teach people how to treat you. I am incorporating this gem into my mommy’s bag of life lessons to teach my children. It is my goal as a parent to make sure that my children are not mistreated. I figure you can lie down and take it and become a bigger target, or you can do something about it.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

9 Killed in Finland School Shooting

That was the headline on the morning news today. It is a sad reminder that school bullying and violence are not just home grown, but that it is truly a world epidemic. Our children are suffering all around the world. Adults are not listening and the victims are snapping and eliminating their tormentors. It is a sad commentary on the human condition. We can all be ashamed of ourselves.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Our Children Are Suffering

Our children, our legacy, are suffering. I don’t see much happening to end their suffering. The high school shootings got our attention to be sure, but our attention was fleeting. How much louder must our children SCREAM for our help? There will be more killing to come until we wake up and take ACTION.

The majority of the books I have read say the same thing. The bullying (AGRESSION) starts in elementary school. It does not start in junior high and high school. It only becomes more violent in junior high and high school as the bullies pounce on their victims who have had enough and snap taking matters into their own hands because the adults around them have failed to respond to their cries for help.

Who is to blame? Is the bully the only one who is to blame? Not by a long shot. We parents bare the brunt of blame. We have spoiled our children rotten and have failed to discipline and parent them at home. Then, we send them off to school to terrorize defenseless children and ill-equipped teachers who do not know how to deal with our out-of-control off-spring.

My children had 11 elementary school teachers between them. Only 2 of the 11 teachers were married with children. So, the majority of my kid’s teachers had no parenting experience. It is not a teacher’s job to parent our children. Parenting is our job. It is the single most important job we will ever have. As a society, we are failing miserably at it.

When I walk into my children’s classrooms, I inevitably witness half of the children (some 15 plus) acting out, purposely disrupting the class. As our children go into middle school and high school with bigger class sizes, the number of unruly students is greater.

In first grade, I became very concerned when my daughter’s young, inexperienced, first-time teacher failed at controlling her class. Walking through the hallway, I regularly heard her screaming at the children. My daughter being sensitive would come home distressed because the teacher yelled and rang her chime all day long. This young teacher used a chime to get the children’s attention. I only heard it a few times, but found it very jarring to my own nervous system. The teacher used this ineffective tool all day long.

Concerned, I repeatedly offered my help in the classroom. My offers were repeatedly denied. Finally, I asked her for a parent-teacher meeting. She accepted and asked if it would be okay if the principal joined us. Taking this as a sign of aggression, by husband insisted on attending. In the end, my offer for help was finally accepted. I regularly assisted the teacher during the daily math lesson.

After my first one hour session, it was clear to me that the teacher had a tough class. There were 20 children, 10 students who were on task at all times and 10 who did everything in their power to disrupt the teacher. I remember being shocked and disturbed that this teacher had been reduced to an over paid babysitter. The ten children who were out of control at all times completely shut the teacher down. She was completely ineffective as a teacher because she was constantly interrupted and sabotaged.

There was one boy who was constantly grunting, belching, humming, throwing things, yelling across the room, you name it, he was doing it. One day I asked him why he did these things knowing he would be told to go to the office. This 6 year old boy told me that he wanted to go to the office so he didn’t have to do the work. I suggested that the teacher just remove his desk from the main area. He didn’t want to be with the other children and bothered them relentlessly until he was eventually told to move to another area in the room. The next day, the boy’s desk was off to the side. He was much happier in his own area and did not have the negative impact on the other children that he had before.

This boy (bad student) who was some how linked to my daughter (good student) from kindergarten through 5th grade. In third grade, my daughter could no longer stand to be in the same class with this boy. I informed the 3rd grade teacher that my child had been in the same class with this boy for 4 years and could she please separate them. In fourth grade, my daughter had a nice break, but in 5th grade he was back in her face. Linking good students with bad students is topic for another time.

Elementary school teachers who ignore reports of bullying are to blame. Not all teachers ignore the reports, but most do. Most will tell the children to stop “tattling”, a word that should be eliminated from our every day language. Reporting AGRESSION can NEVER be called TATTLING! Instead teachers should be encouraging discussions on playground bullying. Teachers can also be present on the playground. They are no where in sight when our children need them the most. The presence of teachers on the playground during recess would be a major deterrent to AGRESSION.

Elementary school principals who ignore reports of AGRESSION and do nothing to put a stop to it are to blame for our children’s suffering. Principals who address AGRESSION, and by that I mean they mention it in an assembly or over the loud speaker, but who do not clearly and unequivocally state severe consequence for bullying (AGRESSION) and follow through fail our children miserably. Probably nine times out of ten, the bullying (AGRESSION) occurs at school. SCHOOL IS GROUND ZERO and must be dealt with head on by school principals. They can no longer bury their heads in the sand failing our children and America as a whole.

School principals have the power to make a huge difference, as do teachers and parents. We have to go to the source, Elementary School. It is time to communicate and come up with a working plan to STOP THE VIOLENCE IN OUR SCHOOLS NOW!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Bullying Games

School is barely back in session and the bullies are hard at work humiliating their latest targets. Apparently, the games of the week at my daughter's junior high were "Pantsing" and "Dead Meat".

Pantsing is self-explanatory, of course. The principal apparently spoke to the students over the loud speaker telling them to stop pantsing other students because it is humiliating, and disgusting. Again, I have to point out the fact that the bullies relish humiliating their prey. So, telling them to stop because it is "humiliating" is only fanning the fire.

The "Dead Meat" game, however, had me stumped. I had to ask my 6th grader to explain it to me. According to her, the bullies run up behind the other kids and slam into the back of their legs at the knee joint in such a way that the victim falls to the ground. The principal reportedly stated that a student was seriously injured as a result of this despicable act.

I asked my kids what consequences were cited over the loud speaker in an effort to put a stop to the hazing. They did not recall hearing the principal warn the student body of the consequences. I was not surprised. I was disappointed, but not surprised. At, least something was said, but nothing was done.

The following day, luck had it that the school had contracted an anti-bullying advocate. His name was Michael Pritcher. My kids said that he was hilarious. They did not even realize that it was an anti-bullying assembly. A parent told me that Mr. Pritcher's son committed suicide after being chronically bullied at school.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Bullying From the Sidelines

I just got back from a 2 hours seminar called "2nd Goal Parents" put on by the Positive Coaching Alliance. It made me realize how out of control recreational sports have become. The instructor pointed out that the bad behavior we see in professional sports on a regular basis is making its way into kids soccer, baseball, softball, basketball, football, etc. He also pointed out that professional sports are all about the money and are therefore "entertainment".

Now, I'm sure that all parents, when they are off the field and rational, can agree that this outrageous behavior has no place in our kids recreational sports. I was shocked to learn that 70% of children by age 13 drop out of all sports. The reason they drop out is the constant criticism and pressure put on them by their sideline parents. That would be us. Ouch! That hurts, but we are all guilty of making comments on the sidelines that discourage rather than encourage our kids.

A few weeks ago, my daughter's competitive soccer team was in the second day of a two day tournament. Toward the second half of the game, we parents were wondering what the heck our girls were doing. Each and every parent began coaching his or her kid. At one point, I wondered how the girls were hearing their coach at all over all the parents yelling from the sidelines. One dad kept yelling out angrily, "We're watching!"

Well, after the game we parents, myself included, didn't have anything positive to say. Our girls just didn't seem to want the win bad enough. Back at home, I asked my daughter why the girls were batting the ball away instead of taking it down field. She said that they were having difficulty with running the ball the day before, so the coach told them do bat it to the closest teammate. Double ouch! That strategy got the team into the Championship Game.

Back to the dad who yelled, "We're watching!" Yesterday during practice, after criticizing the trainer for not controlling the girls' energy and focus, this dad said that he really wished he could get in there and help. Then, he hit the nail on the head when he said that he didn't want to "interfere". Interfering is exactly what we all do when we start coaching from the sidelines. Our kids can't really hear us most of the time. I know, I've asked. Maybe it is just as well. Tonight for the first time, I equated this inappropriate sideline behavior as bullying.

From now on I am going to zip my lip at the games and let the coach do the coaching. I appreciate him giving his time to coach my daughter and her team. It is a huge commitment and daunting task to train thirteen 12 year old girls who still do cartwheels during practice. I will do a better job of finding positive things to say to encourage and support my daughter and her teammates.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

PG13 Pushes Sex, Drugs, and Alcohol on Our Children

Wow!  It is nearly impossible to find an age appropriate movie for pre-teens!  My daughter was invited by a friend to go see “THE HOUSE BUNNY”.  When I looked it up and read the description and the rating, I had to call the mom and tell her that it was inappropriate for my 12 year old girl to see.  The movie is rated “PG-13 for sex-related humor, partial nudity, and brief strong language.” The description read: “The protagonist is Hef's favorite and acts like a den mother to the other girls. On her birthday, she is unceremoniously evicted from Hef's pad for 'being too old.' Homeless and without essential skills, Shelley wanders around L.A. until she finds a new job--the housemother at the most unpopular sorority on campus.”

I know that her daughter wanted to see it, but when I read the description, the mom gasped on the other end and admitted that she had not read the listings.  Really, how tame can a Play Boy movie be?  It is absolutely NOT FOR KIDS! Then the mom suggested seeing “DISASTER MOVIE”.  As I was still on the movie website, I read the description and rating out loud. “PG-13 for crude and sexual content throughout, language, drug references, and comic violence.”  “DISASTER MOVIE follows the comic misadventures of a group of ridiculously attractive twenty-somethings during one fateful night as they try to make their...” See Full Description 

Not giving up, I continued to search for something more age appropriate.  “STAR WARS” was rated PG and the other mom agreed that it would be fun for all to see. Even PG movies have inappropriate content.  A parent has to guess just how crude or rude the jokes might be. I have had many unexpected surprises in the theater with my kids. 

When I told my daughter that we had agreed on STAR WARS, she began to flip out about it being “boring” and for “little kids”. Not two minutes went by, when the phone rang.  It was her girlfriend calling to complain about the movie selection.

Again, I spoke to the other mom and we decided to forget the movie and just let them hang out at her house for a couple of hours.  Curious, I re-entered yahoo’s movie page and read the PG13 rating of the other movies listed.  Funny how they are all so different, but the same nonetheless.  The pervasive theme is sex, drugs, and alcohol.  Who does Hollywood think they are exploiting our young children pushing sex, drugs, and alcohol on them?!!!!!  Here are some more ratings I found for films currently showing in theaters:

Vicky Cristina Barcelona:

Two women travel to Barcelona.  One of them is emotionally and SEXUALLY adventurous. In Barcelona, they're drawn into a series of unconventional romantic entanglements

PG-13 for mature thematic material involving sexuality, and smoking.

Babylon A.D.

PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, language and some sexuality.

Disaster Movie

PG-13 for crude and sexual content throughout, language, drug references and comic violence.

Dark Night (Critics agree that it is far too dark and scary for children.)

PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and some menace.

Mama Mia!

PG-13 for some sex-related comments.  My husband and I loved the movie, but the non-stop sexual innuendos, the protagonist not marrying her fiance and instead sailing off with him to pursue HIS dream, and the cougar/teenage romance were enough for us to chose NOT to take our children to see this film.

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2

PG-13 for mature material and sensuality.  I’d have to see this one first to determine how much "mature material and sensuality" it really contains.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Scam Alert Involving D.A.R.E.

On my way out of Walgreens (a drug store) today, I was asked for a donation of $20 to help D.A.R.E which I was told is in danger of folding due to lack of funds. Being that I have children and like to support such charities, I happily handed the man a $20 bill. As he reached for his receipt book, he asked me for an additional $1.78 in sales tax. (This was the first RED FLAG). I do give my self credit for at least asking about charging sales tax on a “donation”. Of course, the young man had a smooth response having something to do with the T-shirt and children’s book that I was receiving for the $20 amount.

Given that I am the Queen of Naïveté, I handed the young man $2 and told him to keep the change. Once home, I decided to file the receipt. That is when I noticed something was not right. “D.A.R.E.” did not appear at the top of my receipt, nor did the word “donation” appear anywhere. I quickly flipped it over and read the back.

To my shock and horror, the receipt said that D.A.R.E. would receive 5% of my $20 donation! (The state would get the $1.78.) I thought I gave $20 to D.A.R.E., but in reality, D.A.R.E. would only receive $1.00!

Angry that I had been scammed, I called D.A.R.E. The girl who answered the phone was new and could only tell me to go to a website and try to figure out for myself how to get the money back. I told her that this practice made no sense to me. Why would D.A.R.E. affiliate itself with marketing companies that prey on donors who want to support D.A.R.E.? She had no answers.

I could see my complaint would go nowhere. So, I found a phone number on the receipt. The woman who answered gave yet another company name which was different from the marketing company listed on the receipt. So, there is apparently some kind of pyramid scheme going on here.

There was a 2nd red flag. Because I was waiting for a prescription to be filled and it was lunch time, I slipped into a local diner for a quick bite to eat. The young man and woman who had scammed me (I was still unaware that I had been taken) came walking in. I was struck by the young man’s fancy suit and the young woman’s professional dress and Gucci handbag. Hello! Do I really need to be hit over the head by a two by four to see when I am being conned?!

Determined to save my friends from falling prey to this scam, I sent out an email to warn them. Unfortunately, one friend emailed back saying she had given them money too, thinking that her donation was going to D.A.R.E.

I don’t know why D.A.R.E. chooses to use these marketing companies to raise funds. But I do know that these companies are using Deceptive Practices. My donation was actually a purchase of merchandise. Thus, the additional sales tax. Unbelievable!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Schools Encourage Bullying

Some schools actually encourage bullying by not taking action when bullying is reported. But they also encourage upper class men bullying younger class men by instilling or allowing in their school the attitude that the upper class men are "superior" to lower class men. Of course, this is not the case, but nevertheless, this is the atmosphere on many school campuses.

One elementary school that my children attended actually had a cheer that encouraged this attitude that leads to hazing in our schools. The school cheer had a verse recited by each grade. When the cheer reached the 5th graders, they yelled out, "We're so cool we RULE the school." This cheer was not written by the children, but rather it was taught to them by their teachers as early as first grade. In my opinion, this is a completely irresponsible practice.

This past week, in middle school, my daughter was standing in the corridor when an eighth grade boy intentionally plowed right into her knocking her into a pole. Apparently, the rule is that lower class men either stand next to the lockers or be knocked down by the bigger kids walking through.

Before my kids got to middle school, I was warned by an eighth grade girl not to purchase the rolling backpack. I was shocked to learn the reason why. She told me that it is common practice for the bigger kids to pick on the kids who have them by kicking and even break the rolling backpacks! Thus, humiliating the new 6th graders in front of a large audience. Nice welcome to middle school!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

That Didn't Take Long

Well, it didn't take long. School started on Tuesday and my daughter was bullied on Wednesday. With 1 in 4 children being bullied every single day at school and only 4% of adults responding to reports of bullying, I should not be surprised.

What did surprise me, however, was my daughter's reaction to the insults being hurled at her by a girl she barely knows. She decided to return the insults. Even though all last year we discussed "mommy approved" responses aimed at letting the bullies know that she would not be a push over target, she made a really bad decision that could only cause the situation to escalate.

It did not help that the boy (bystander) sitting between them egged them on with his blow by blow commentary. Yes, this happened in the classroom, in the front row no less, and the teacher was completely oblivious! Not for long, though. I will be calling her today so that she will be aware of it should it happen again.

I can see that educating myself and my daughter about bullying is going to be an on-going process. I realize that she is only human and that her anger got the best of her, but she needs to do a better job of not getting involved in the bullies tirade. My daughter's safety is my top priority. It is my job as a parent to educate my daughter and empower her against the bullies without making herself a bigger target.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Contract For Internet Usage More Important Than Behavior To School

School started yesterday. The kids were so excited, they actually got up 45 minutes before I did! That ought to last about one more day, I'd say. Last night my kids came home with piles of paper from me to both review and sign. Being that I threw my back out earlier in the day, I was a captive audience.:(

As I sifted through the piles of papers sent home by the teachers, I was struck by the Internet Usage Contract to be signed by the parent and child. I wondered why there was no such contract regarding BEHAVIOR. Surely a contract for behavior is in order when every single teacher spelled out the requirement of RESPECT that each student must demonstate in class. Some teachers mentioned RESPECT more than twice!

I have been in a lot of grade school classrooms and have witnessed numerous children disrespect teachers and fellow students on a daily basis. The need to instill RESPECT in the classroom is vital to building an effective learning environment for our children. Given the lack of discipline at home, it is no wonder that kids today are so disrespectful of their teachers and friends. There is a great need for a Behavioral Contract at every level of education, with consequences for misbehavior clearly spelled out. So, I repeat. Where is the Behavioral Contract?

Do Anti-bullying Policies Equal Hypocracy?

This is an interesting point of view put forth to me in a conversation yesterday out in front of my daughters' school. I think it really hits the nail on the head. A principal who will not get involved and enforce the anti-bullying policies put in place at his or her school is indeed a HYPOCRITE.

What's more, a principal who ignores the bullying because he or she thinks of bullying as a "normal" part of child development actually encourages playground violence, otherwise known as bullying.

We have got to stop the HYPOCRISY! That only 4% of adults take any action whatsoever when a victim reports being bullied is a NATIONAL DISGRACE! Teachers, principals, and parents should be ashamed of the statistics and of our lack of attention to this very MONUMENTAL PROBLEM in our school. What kind of message are we sending our kids? What kind of example are we setting?

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Let The Bullying Begin!

By now, most of us have taken our greatest treasure, our children, back to school. If you are like me, you were full of hope and excitement for the new school year. However, knowing that 1 in 4 children are bullied every single day at school, I found myself filled with anxiety for what the bullies had planned for my youngest daughter.

As I watched my girls walk through the front gates, I ran into another mom leaving school after dropping off her daughter. We exchanged a welcome back hug. She said she was glad to be leave the "clique run" elementary school and principal behind. I was surprised to hear her express the same things my family had experienced at that school. I, too, was glad to leave that school behind, but the bullies from that school have come with us.

This year will be different for a lot of reasons. We are also prepared for whatever the bullies throw at us. We will not tolerate their continued mistreatment of our daughter. What's more, if targeted, my daughter will know how to defend herself.

Monday, August 18, 2008

"I Kissed a Girl..." #$%@^%!!!!!

Okay.  We don't have ipods and video games and all the gadgets kids have to have these days.  I know, I am probably a bit old fashioned, by I can't stand to see kids "connected to electronic gadgets" and tuned out of life.  As long as I am the caregiver in my family, I chose to avoid these "teen" items.

So, you can imagine how shocked I was to hear my girls singing what seemed like a lovely song in perfect harmony "I kissed a girl...  My boyfriend don't mind..."  #@$%*(&^%$@!!!!!!  "Whoa!"  What did you just sing?  To my horror they repeated it exactly as I'd just heard it.    I was  absolutely sure I had misheard and ask, "Who sings it?"  The response is "Katy Perry."  $#@@^%%$#@!!!  And of course the last question: "WHERE DID YOU HEAR THAT 

The bottom line is that they heard it somewhere.  The song is apparently number 9 on the charts.  I explained to my girls how INAPPROPRIATE the song was and told them that I never want to hear that song again.  However, once heard, the damage is done.   It infuriates me that an artist would put such rubbish out there.  This could have been a great song with a positive message instead of pushing bisexualism on the tender age group it is aimed at.  It is truly shameful.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Texas Teachers to Carry Guns to School

That was the string of words that scrolled across the TV screen this morning as I watched the morning news sipping on a cup of coffee. I had one of those reactions that almost caused a 2nd degree burn on my lap!

In disbelief, I logged on to the Internet and sure enough, Reuters reports that a school district in Northern Texas has approved teachers carrying guns to school with no objections from parents. The report also went on to say that with the shootings in schools around the nation, there has been a call for both teachers and students to take guns to school. Are they crazy?!!!!!

Who in their right mind thinks it is a good idea for students and teachers to take guns to school?!!! Where will the teachers keep the guns so that they are not stolen? How will teachers keep the guns from being found and possibly discharged accidentally by curious children?

What about the psychological evaluation of the teachers who are carrying guns to school? Let's face it, there are days when our kids come home and report that the teacher completely lost it in class. Why do our teachers flip out in class? Because our children disrespect them all day long. Our lack of parenting has turned our teachers into expensive babysitters. I don't even want to think about what will happen when stressed out teachers snap and pull out a gun in class!

Who will be responsible for policing the influx of guns onto our school campuses? Next, shall we outlaw locker searches? Might as well, since they are designed to keep guns OUT of our schools. Am I the only one who sees that this is a really BAD idea???????

Thursday, August 14, 2008

International Bullies & Olympic Bullies

If you've been watching the news lately, you're aware that during the Olympics Opening Day, Russia invaded the democratic country of Georgia. Nations of the world are ultimate bullies with weapons of mass destruction at their disposal. It is truly frightening.

Many nations around the world view the United States as a big bully. Truth be told, governments are run by people. I have heard many people say that bullying is a fact of life in the animal world of which we are a part. Even so, does that make bullying acceptable somehow? I think not. The human species has the ability to reason and with it has the ability to exercise self-control.

Self-control is something that the Spanish team was unable to exhibit as it posed for an advertisement taunting the Chinese team in a show of extreme distaste. On the flip side, I was humbled by Michael Phelps leaning over the pool to shake the hand of the defeated Frenchman who with his teammates talked smack all week about the U.S. swim team. Way to go Michael! You do your country proud!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

How Much Blame Does Hollywood Bear?

Unfortunately, parents are still at the mercy of Hollywood. Our children deserve and crave good programming, but are we getting it? I guess that depends on whose definition of “good” you are talking about.

My Mommy definition of “good programming” is the following: Programs that are age appropriate with honest age-related ratings such that I as a parent can easily see that a program is suitable for my children. The current system fails families miserably.

There should be a more comprehensive rating system. The current G, PG, PG13, R rating system is just not cutting it. The difference from PG13 to R seems to have been blurred. My experience is that they are pretty much the same. Likewise, I fail to see much difference, if any, between G and PG movies. And let’s be honest, PG movies are of no interest to most children 10 years and up. They'll tell you it's for babies.

I mean, did my kids really need to see Vince Vaughn beat up Santa Claus in Fred Claus? This movie was rated PG13 for rude comments.:{ I don’t know how many times I heard the characters say “Crap!” All the mommies had to sit there and endure the on-going argument between Vaughn and his girl friend who breaks up with him because Vaughn won’t move in with her.

The ratings just don’t tell us anything. I recently told my sister that I had seen Mama Mia! (rated PG13) with my husband. She said she couldn’t wait to take her 12 year old daughter to see it. Surprised, I suggested she see it first and then decide if it was appropriate for her 12 year old to see. In my opinion this movie, while excellent, is filled with sexual innuendo that, frankly, mommies will have to explain on the spot in the theater because kids just have to know what it going on.

I’ll never forget when my girlfriend and I went to see Because I Said So (rated PG13). There was a scene where the mother and daughter were discussing the fact that the mother had never had an orgasm and asked her daughter what it was like. 2 little heads popped up a couple of rows down and the entire theater heard, “Hey mom. What’s an orgasm?” MORTIFYING! Then, there were a couple of scenes where grandma was getting it on (although fully dressed) with her new lover. Whose idea was it that our children should be exposed to movies with sexual content?

Then there’s the issue of violence. This summer I took my girls to see (rated PG13). I loved watching the series as a child, so I was excited for the girls to see it. I was shocked at the violence. My kids, whom I’ve taken great pains to protect from seeing murders on TV and movies, witnessed some 30 murders in a matter of 60 minutes! I was mortified and wondered when we would ever sleep through the night again.:{

Then came the seen were Max is trying to get the keys out of the pocket of his unconscious kidnapper. A bad guy walking by peeks in the window and sees what appears to be a gay sexual act. Oh heck! Max, the hero, appeared to be humping the passed out bad guy. There! I said it! Of course the audience erupts in laughter. Confused, my eleven year old daughter leans in and asks, “Hey mom. Why is everybody laughing?”:{

I know we have gone around and around with Hollywood on this issue, but the current system is completely inadequate and irresponsible. More care needs to be taken when rating movies and television programming for kids. Maybe Hollywood could redefine PG13 and remove all murder and sexual innuendo from movies targeting our children and add a rating in between like PG16, which would be a more appropriate rating for movies with both sexually implicit and explicit material.

Such a rating system would be very helpful to all parents in determining what is appropriate and what is not. I, for one, am tired of being surprised in my living room and movie theaters.:{ What about you?

And don't even get me started on Hollywood's glorification of mean girls and bullies. That's a topic for another day.

Is Disney to Blame?

I for one love Disney. I was raised on it. Over the years, I have heard numerous comments regarding the negative images that Disney promotes. In the past, I have objected to these comments. I watch Disney with my kids on a daily basis. For the most part, we have enjoyed a lot of good laughs and good life lessons from Disney programming.

I am not saying that it is perfect, not at all. In fact, I was quite shocked by an episode of Drake and Josh. In this particular episode, the two brothers argue non-stop to the point of being down right annoying. They go on a spoof talk show called Dr. Phyllis. Ha! Ha!

To make a long story short, the doctor is no match for their constant bickering and physical fighting. The characters reflect back on some 30 episodes in each of which the two brothers inevitably become violent. Seeing it all at once was a definite eye opener for me. I did not get that the relationship was so abusive until just now while watching it with my eleven year old.

One program my pre-teen girls are totally into right now is a program by Disney called H2O. I feel good about this program as there is no violence and it has a good Disney message at the end about the value of friendship. You have to admit that the happy ending is a Disney trademark, but I still watch it with them, just in case.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Cyber Bullying On-line, Not Just For Kids!

Wow! I just, just became a member of Blogher, an on-line directory of women’s blogs. I was shocked to read a post by one of the contributing editors and fellow blogger saying that she has witnessed a great deal of on-line jealousy. Apparently, successful bloggers are being berated on-line by jealous female bloggers. One blogger commented that she feels like she is back in high school!

This is outrageous behavior! This is the year 2008 folks! What is going on here? If we adults cannot control ourselves and lash out at some one we perceive to be more successful than ourselves, what are we teaching our children? After all, they learn from our example. What attitudes are we passing down to the generation we are raising? Sounds like we adults are long overdue for a reality check ourselves.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Anatomy of a Bystander

Bystanders can be just about anyone. We have all witnessed someone somewhere in our lifetime being bullied. For the most part, bystanders do one of two things. 1) They stand by and witness the bully bullying her victim and do and say nothing to stop the violence. 2) They join in and taunt the victim becoming bullies themselves.

Why do some children stand by and say and do nothing to stop the violence against a fellow classmate? There are a few reasons for their silence. They often do not know what to do. No one has told them to try to stop it, much less report it. Bystanders are relieved that the bully is not focused on them as the target. They are afraid to cross the bully and feel his wrath should they speak out against him.

Why do some children join in on the bullying? It would seem unconsionable that any child let alone your child would join in on the aggression. It happens much more than we realize. Again, for the same reasons that bystanders do and say nothing. They are afraid of the bully. They maybe friends with the bully. The bully may be popular and by being "in" with her, the bystander enjoys a certain level of popularity. The bully friend may protect them from another bully at school. They go along with the bullying to throw the bullies off of their own scent.

The bottom line is that our school-aged children are being terrorized on our school playgrounds each and everyday. It is a national disgrace.

Anatomy of a Bully

Bullying has nothing to do with anger and everything to do with POWER. Bullies are addicted to it. They crave it like a drug. They look for an easy target to bully at school to give them selves a quick fix. The bigger the audience the better, as far as they are concerned. They taunt and harass their prey with verbal assaults with the added threat of physical injury, and social isolation.

In her insightful book, The Bully, the Bullied, and the Bystander, Barbara Coloroso puts forth an interesting theory. She insists that bullies feel CONTEMPT for children who are outside of their “circle of caring”. As awful as this sounds, I have to say that she is on to something here.

Coloroso defines CONTEMPT as hatred felt toward some one whom the bully deems as being “worthless, inferior, or undeserving of respect.” Where in God’s name did they ever get the idea that they were superior to others? What in our parenting style is contributing to the development of this attitude that leads to bullying?

Boys and girls use both verbal and physical bullying to attack their victims. Boys tend to use physical bullying more than girls, but with the erasing of the gender lines, girls are quickly catching up as evidenced in the daily headlines. Girl bullies weapon of choice is far more devastating than physical and verbal bullying. They have mastered the art of Relational Bullying.

Relational Bullying is by far the most difficult to detect and it occurs right under teacher’s noses each and everyday. This is the type of attack that was launched against my youngest daughter. Her bully spread rumors around the 5th grade to ignore her and to be mean to her. How can a bully get an entire class of over 100 girls to shun 1 particular girl? It’s easy. See post entitled Anatomy of a Bystander.

Parents, teachers, and child advocates have got to get together and figure out how to identify relational bullying and come up with ways to stop it in its tracks. I was attacked by a queen bee using this weapon over thirty years ago. I only recently discovered that it was on her orders that her wannabes ousted me from the group of girls I had been with throughout my primary school years. Go figure! What has your experience been with relational bullying?

Normal Bullying????

Can you imagine a school principal describing bullying as "normal bullying"??? It was sexual assault, folks! What the heck is going on in this country? This horrible situation took place in Sunnyvale, Texas where the abuse went on for years, was reported, and not one responsible adult did anything about it!!! As a nation and as parents, we should be outraged! I know I am! What about you?

There is nothing normal about bullying! Until we redefine our society's definition of bullying, the violence that is bullying will continue. When adults are verbally and physically attacked, we press charges. Why do we allow violence (bullying) against our children to go unpunished?

By calling the crime of violence against our children "bullying" (which translates into "normal", acceptable" behavior that goes unpunished by law) we are allowing terrible injustices and abuse to occur unchecked in our homes, schools, and workplace on a daily basis. Let's not forget that bullies grow up to be bully bosses while others become hardened criminals.

Sugar and Spice and Everything Nice

That's just not what little girls are made of these days. I was watching the M & J Show the other day and they were discussing the violent behavior of girls that we are all seeing splashed all over the headlines. We've all heard about the videos being taken while "friends" beat up another "friend" to post it on one of the popular sites like You Tube or My Space.

The actions of these teens is despicable and unconscionable. One of the hosts asked the guest, child psychologist why girls are exhibiting "male" violent behavior. His answer surprised me. He said that with the blurring of the gender lines, our girls are becoming more violent.

Don't even get me started on the daily violence they witness when playing video games, watching R-rated television, and movies! Well, okay. Get me started, but I'll have to tackle the topic of violent media marketed to our children another time TBA.

The catty behavior starts in primary school. It is so subtle that the teachers don't even see or hear it. For my youngest daughter, the catty behavior started in 2nd grade. I remember the hard time that 3 girls used to give her in the classroom. To her credit, that 2nd grade teacher actually did catch it and did address it on more than one occasion.

But what about the girls who get away with the catty behavior? Year after year, they go around humiliating the girls who are not in their inner circle. Those girls become ostracized by the other girls because they do not want to be humiliated themselves. When left uncorrected, the catty behavior creates an inescapable vicious circle. The victims are not physically hurt, but they are mentally and emotionally devastated.

Kudos to Penelope Cruz!

Yeah! It's about time we added some star power to the national campaign to end bullying. Headline News reported today that Penelope Cruz is being criticized for making a harsh statement by saying that gossip and rumors have a lasting and devastating affect on future generations.

You bet your sweet petunia it affects future generations! Every mom who has had to pick up the pieces of their once happy, vivacious child knows that the targets don't come out of it unscathed. Funny, bullying can take a matter of seconds, but the victims carry the scars of the bullying in their psyche for a lifetime. Let's not forget that 1 out of 4 children are bullied every single day at school!

Thanks Penelope!

The Dreaded Birthday Invitations

I mentioned birthday invitations in an earlier piece. I think that invitations represent an important topic, so it bears repeating here. Every year I absolutely dread handing out the birthday invitations. I learned back in 1st grade that you can’t let the kids hand them out, no matter how secretly it is done.

I’ll never forget the first graders piling out of the classroom. I handed Halley the invites to slip into a few of the girls hands undetected. She did a great job, too. The problem was that one little girl grabbed the envelope and yelled out to the other girls, “A birthday invitation! Did you get one? Did you get one?” I was mortified!

One little girl I did not even know marched right up to me, told me her name, and said that I could bring her invitation tomorrow. I’m sure we have all had tears over the birthday invitations our children did not get. Especially, when they are handed out overtly on the playground or when another child goes around spreading the bad news that your child did not get one.

We really do need to teach our little ones proper birthday invitation etiquette and we parents need to follow it ourselves. Why is it necessary to teach our children proper birthday invitation etiquette? Well, we are doing a lousy job of it now and look at what is happening. I haven't met a mom yet who loves to hand out birthday invitations. We've all seen the abuse and the hurt that is caused by not training our kids how to graciously and quietly accept an invitation.

In fact, my nine year old was ousted from her group of friends because she did not invite 2 of the other girls from the group. Those 2 girls, by the way, had never once invited Halley to their homes nor to their parties. Not only that, but the two girls were mean to Halley because of her growing friendship with Veronica, "the prize" without whom they would not be "popular".

My Ally the Principal?

As I was saying in the previous post, once I calmed Halley down, we marched straight into the Principal's Office to report the bullies. Mrs. Rogers took us into her office and asked Hal to tell her what had happened. I saw the tail end of it, but I sat quietly and let Hal do the talking. I did not feel the need to speak for her.

Having said all that needed to be said, Mrs. Rogers asked who the "kingpin" was. Hal was confused as she did not understand the term. I explained that it meant "leader". That was easy. It was Liza, since Liza had told Hal that it was her idea when Hal accused another girl for coming up with it (the Ousting).

Mrs. Rogers said she would call the girls in the following morning (the last day of school and Halley's actual birthday). As I stood up to leave, I said that I would talk to the moms. Mrs. Rogers advised me not to. I thought it was strange, but since I had come to know three of the moms quite well, I spoke with them. (Those conversations are good for another post.)

The next day Hal was called into the Principal's Office along with the other girls. Earlier I had seen two of the moms talking really fast outside of the office. One of them was Emily, Liza's mom. Suffice it to say, our telephone conversation the day before did not go so well. However, I felt confident that the Mrs. Rogers would get to the bottom of the problem and fix it. I truly thought that the girls would come out of her office with their friendships intact. Boy was I wrong!

Instead, Mrs. Rogers told Hal that her story was completely "different" from the girls' story and that it looked like Hal was the one ganging up on them! Wait, it gets better. Mrs. Rogers had the audacity to bring up the fact that Hal had failed to invite two of the girls to her birthday party! I could not believe my ears! I was stunned! What is worse, Hal said that every time the girls lied and Hal tried to speak, Mrs. Rogers shushed her!

Hal was never aloud to defend herself against the bullies' lies! I trusted the Principal to protect my daughter and instead she re-victimized her. So, that day Halley learned that the adults at school would not protect her, but would only hurt her more.

This is unfortunately the message of all too many adults (teachers and principals included) who could make a difference and who flat out refuse to take a stand against the violence (bullying). In a study I read recently, only 4% of adults take any action whatsoever when bullying is reported. It is TRAGIC.

The Ousting

Just as the school year was winding down, my 9 year old daughter Halley was looking forward to her birthday party. She was one step closer to the coveted prize: Teenager-hood! Turning double digits was a big deal to her as it is for most little girls. She couldn’t wait to make out invitations and pick out party decorations. She had decided on a pool party this year.

We had just moved into our new home and she’d never had a pool before, so she dreamed of it being a lot of fun. Halley quickly decided she wanted her guests to come dressed up like famous people. Of course, I messed up on the invitations and instructed them to come as their favorite star. Halley quickly corrected the error.

Every year I dread handing out the birthday invitations. I learned back in 1st grade that you can’t let the kids hand them out, no matter how secretly it is done. I’ll never forget the first graders piling out of the classroom. I handed Halley the invites to slip into a few of the girls hands undetected. She did a great job, too. The problem was that one little girl took the envelope and yelled out to the other girls, “A birthday invitation! Did you get one? Did you get one?” I was mortified! One little girl I did not even know marched right up to me, told me her name, and said that I could bring her invitation tomorrow.

I’m sure we have all had tears over the birthday invitations our children did not get. Especially, when they are handed out overtly on the playground or when another child goes around spreading the bad news that your child did not get one. We really do need to teach our little ones proper birthday invitation etiquette and we parents need to follow it ourselves. So, from that moment on, I handed the invitations out to the other mommies completely out of sight of the children.

This year in fourth grade, I made no exception. Halley had made some nice friends and those were the girls we invited. I allowed her to invite 8. The girls arrived at the party and walked down the red carpet with glamour and style. Two of the girls arrived together dressed as twins. Veronica and Liza were Halley’s closest friends from the moment we arrived in town. They had lots of play dates and sleepovers.

All of Halley’s guest had arrived and the activities were in full swing. Almost immediately it became blaringly clear that Veronica and Liza were more interested in separating themselves from the other girls than they were in joining in. The other girls tried to engage them, but were turned away. I had not seen these two behave like little snobs before. I assumed the matching costumes went to their heads a bit.

Once the girls were in the swimming pool, Liza and Veronica hogged the rafts and stayed in the deep end, clearly avoiding the other girls. I finally couldn’t control myself anymore. I asked Veronica and Liza why they weren’t playing with the other girls. They just shrugged. I pointed out that the girls might get the idea that they don’t like them. Again, they both shrugged and continued to ignore the other girls for the rest of the party.

What’s that saying? “Hind sight is 20/20 vision.” School was one day away from letting out and in just two days Hal would turn 10. During a Field Day Event on the playground that day, Halley’s 2 “BFF’s” and three other girls pulled Hal aside and one by one went around in a circle telling Hal all the things they felt were wrong with her. She was told that she would change these things or they would not be her friends anymore.

I walked up on the character assassination as it was happening, but I got there too late to save my daughter. Halley was absolutely devastated and so was I. Once I calmed her down and cleaned up her face, we went into the principal’s office to report the bullying. What does all this have to do with birthday invitations? Just wait. You won’t believe what the principal did! This is getting long, so more on that later.

Are Parents to Blame?

I have this discussion with my sister on an on-going basis. I think that the parents are to blame for their kids violent (bullying is violence, so that is the term I chose to use) behavior. You don't need me to tell you how out of hand aggression at school has gotten. If you don't see it everyday, that does not mean that it is not happening. You can bet your kid sees it and knows it firsthand. Just ask. Believe me you will get an earful.

My sister, on the other hand, does not think that the parents are to blame. In her experience, the parents of the bullies are sweet people who have no idea that their kids are bullies at school. So, my sis and I have opposing views when it comes to who is to blame. What do you think and why?

Target: The New Girl

My husband and I moved our family from our home of 15 years in a large city to be closer to family in a much smaller community in California. I was ecstatic to be closer to my now aging parents and sister. Our daughters were finishing 4th and 5th grade. We felt we needed to make the move before our 5th grader went into junior high. We worried a great deal about her socialization and wanted to make sure she had friends going into junior high that fall.

Unfortunately, I could not buy a play date for my 5th grader. In spite of my efforts to invite girls over, A.J. was invited to only 3 play dates and 1 birthday party in the last 5 months of the school year. Our invitations were turned down because of the girls extra curricular activities. Moving half way through the school year made it impossible to join the Camp Fire Troops, Book Clubs, soccer team, etc.

On the other hand, my 4th grader Halley was so busy with play dates and birthday invitations, that I couldn’t even keep track of her social calendar. The very first day I took her to see her new school, a large herd of girls stampeded around her and asked her a million questions. Luckily, the bell rang and they ran back to class. I stood back and watched Hal’s reaction. At first she seem frightened, but did okay. I counted some 16 girls! I noticed that Jen, a neighbor girl we had just met, was there, but left right away before the other girls left.

On her first day of school, Halley stood up and sang a song she had written in front of the music class. The music teacher was delighted and very impressed to see a child voluntarily jump up and sing in front of an audience. According to Hal, she got a lot of attention from the other kids who were also impressed with her ability. Jen, however, was not impressed with Hal’s sudden popularity and talent and began to spread rumors about the “new girl".

Hal had a bit of a following for the first couple of weeks of school. She was not popular at the other school, so she did not know what to make of it. I told her that it would all die down in a few days once the novelty of her arrival wore off.

We ignored Jen’s bad behavior which included spreading rumors (her powerful weapon of choice); telling people to be mean to Halley, and saying Hal’s name out loud to get her attention, then whispering in another girl’s ear while looking at Hal and then laughing. We invited Jen over to play numerous times. We invited her to our pizza/movie nights, Hal’s birthday party, and even took her to a Women's Stanford Soccer game. Jen never once invited Hal over to play at her house.

One day Hal broke down in tears because she just didn’t understand why Jen didn’t like her. I felt so badly for her. I hugged her and said that not everyone is going to like us. I pointed out that we do not like everyone ourselves. I told her to forget about Jen. I assured her that we were not going to invite her over anymore and to just stay away from Jen at school. I told her there were a lot of nice girls at school who would be happy and lucky to be her friend.

When the Bullying Began

When my youngest child was chronically bullied at her elementary school. It was very difficult to get the bullies to leave her alone. In this blog I share my daughters story and what I went through and what we are still going through. We parents have a lot of work to do to turn the tide of pain away from our children. So many of our children are suffering in silence at the hands of their bullies and we don't even know it.

How has your child been bullied? What did you do? What did the school do? In our case, the first time my daughter was bullied in the 4th grade at our new school, the principal sided with the group of bullies!

Having learned from that painful experience, the second time around in 5th grade, we went to the teacher. That worked better, but even then, the bullies kept on bullying her. Why? Because until they were threatened with suspension (Consequence), they were free to harass my child all they wanted.

As a result of our experiences over the years with combatting bullying at school, I have read a lot of books and watched countless newscasts of violence in our schools. What I have found is that we parents have got to take action now. How many more school shootings will it take?

Our children are crying out in pain, but the adults around them are not listening. Because they are not being taken seriously, children are now acting out in pain. The ones who are pulling the trigger are not the bullies who originated of the violence. The ones pulling the triggers are the victims of years of relentless bullying (read violence) at our schools that the responsible adults around them could have stopped. If the adults had put a stop to the torment, countless tragedies could have been prevented.

It is not too late. The tide can be turned, but we have to join forces, educate ourselves, re-define bullying, educate our schools, educate our children, demand severe consequences for bullying, and above all, communicate with our kids. The message must be clear.