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.