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.