bullying

Bullying and Parenting Advice from Rosalind Wiseman

Written on April 30, 2012 at 12:30 pm , by

Bullying is a hot topic right now. And for good reason. Lots of kids are suffering from bullying both at school and online from their peers. As a result, parents are trying to figure out how to best handle the situation. In an effort to create a dialogue on bullying, we hosted a live Facebook chat with teen parenting expert Rosalind Wiseman last week and invited you to ask her questions. During the chat, Rosalind, who specializes in bullying prevention, shared her tips and advice for parents who are faced with bullying issues. Here’s what happened during the chat:

Family Circle: Welcome to our live Bullying and Parenting Advice Chat with teen parenting expert Rosalind Wiseman. She’s here to offer advice and answer all of your bullying and parenting questions. Our digital director, Lisa Mandel, will be moderating the conversation. Please feel free to post your questions below for Rosalind.
Lisa Mandel: I’m Lisa Mandel, the Digital Director for FC. Welcome to our chat with parenting and bullying expert Rosalind Wiseman. Given that almost all kids are exposed to bullying— either because they’re bullied, they bully someone or have seen it happen –all of us parents need help dealing with this issue. Post your questions for Rosalind here.
Rosalind, I’ll ask the first question. What should a parent do if her child is targeted by bullies?
Rosalind Wiseman: Hi Lisa, it’s a really important question. If your child tells you about being bullied I suggest you say, “I’m so sorry that’s happening to you, thanks for telling me, and together we’re going to work on figuring this out.” What I don’t want parents to say are things like “Just walk away, ignore it, don’t let them see it bothers you, you’re better than they are, they’re just jealous. We want to give guidance to our children for skill building and comfort.

Lisa Mandel: What do you do if you’re worried that your child is being bullied, but your child says nothing?
Rosalind Wiseman: If your child says nothing but you think they’re being bullied, privately go up to them and say: “Hey, Unfortunately it’s common for people to be mean to each other. But that doesn’t make it right. If it ever happens to you, you know you can talk to me about it right? Now don’t expect a conversation right away. Sometimes the child needs some time to think about what you said and get back to you.

Lorrie: I was just watching the news and was disgusted at the Bruins’ fans that used racial slurs on Twitter after last night game. How can we expect our children to not bully when adults are doing?
Rosalind Wiseman: Hi Lorrie, I use those experiences when my children see someone be mean, or rude to say exactly what I am seeing that I don’t like and how their behavior goes against what our family stands for. I use it when I am driving and someone is flipping someone off or shouts cuss words out the window too.

Lisa: I’m concerned about cyber-bullying. I don’t want to spy on my kids online, but how do I know that they’re okay?
Rosalind Wiseman: Hi Lisa, I really want you to think about applying the rules you teach your children in real life are the same as online. Of course, you should monitor what they’re getting and sending through their computers and mobile phones and Verizon and ATT both have parental control centers where you can see exactly what’s happening. And tell your kids you are doing that.

Tina: What is a true definition and a true meaning of bullying? My children, ages 15 and 10, attend a small school (126 peers k-12). We have 2 separate schools in our district, what I have a problem with is a child going home to parent and saying, so and so said I had bad breath today or said my hair looks funny and following day child is removed and put into other school. Shouldn’t the parent address the small issue with faculty and student and work it out first? To me, bullying falls under a very different circumstance.
Rosalind Wiseman: Tina, bullying is using power or strength of make someone feel worthless. It’s usually over a period of time. So in order for people to take bullying seriously we need to be clear about the definition.

Faith: My 5-year-old seems to be targeted by the same kid in his class, pushing, kicking, harsh words. The teachers response is to walk away. I contacted the principal when the child got a phone call home for 3 incidents against my son in the same day. The principal hasn’t let me know the situation details, and that was last week. If the school phones the parents of the child who got in trouble, why didn’t I, the parent of the child receiving the negative actions, get informed?? And how young does the bullying start??
Rosalind Wiseman: Faith, bullying happens when it happens regardless of age. As the parent of the target you have the right to be informed about what happened, what they did in the immediate time after and what their plan is for the future. You don’t have the right to ask what disciplinary procedures are happening with the child because they have to protect the confidentiality of the child—just as you’d want if you were on the other side of this.
Faith: Frankly, I don’t care what the disciplinary actions are; just that the school knew my child was the target and never informed me. It is a weekly thing that this particular child is kicking my son, or hitting him, or pushing him down….and this is the 2nd time I’ve voiced concerns and asked to be notified of any incidents. The teacher is retiring this year and seems to have a lackadaisical view of most everything. But when my child comes home with bruises and a black eye, don’t I have the right to know what’s going on??

Julie: What do you do when you tell your child to tattle to a grown up when they are bullied, but the school staff has been told by the principal not to do anything unless they themselves (staff) witness the incident?
Lisa Mandel: It seems like many schools are adopting the policy that a child’s word is not believable unless an adult corroborates it.
Rosalilnd Wiseman: For everyone who is battling schools with this issue. The laws don’t ever specify that an adult has to witness the abuse. So if the administrator says this then you need to remind them of the laws. You can also point them to what the US Department of ED says about this. They don’t say an adult has to be present.
Lisa Mandel: Here’s a link to an analysis of state bullying laws.
Rosalind Wiseman: Thanks Lisa!
Julie: I live in Canada. Our laws are different, I guess. Here in Canada, the schools bring the bully and victim together for a “chat” which, in my opinion, just re-victimizes the victims since al the bully does is lie.
Rosalind Wiseman: Hi Julie, I don’t think so. It’s worth checking out. I’ve worked in Canada a lot and it’s never come up in any of the policy conversations I’ve had or heard.
Julie: Because of school staff policy (If you didn’t witness it, you can’t intervene”), I have had to tell my child, “YO cannot draw first blood, but you CAN fight back and defend yourself.” Here in Canada, there is an anti-bullying bill just now working its way through parliament. Until it gets passed, there is nothing. Thus, it’s up to each individual school board to set policy. Ours…suck.
Rosalind Wiseman: Julie, yes in bullying situations or when that is even a possibility schools need to realize that bringing the target and bully together re-victimizes the target. It’s another example of how adults are part of the problem. If this happens to you, as in the school wants to do this, refuse and ask to meet with the counselor separately to prepare your child for a strategy where they can feel safe.
Julie: Too late. The school says it does not have to inform parents when they bring bully and victim together for a chat, so we found out about it after the fact. Now the bully is worse than ever, because he feels he got away with it.

Lisa Mandel: I like the idea of making sure your child feels safe. What can you tell parents who are worried that their child will be socially punished if they say something about the bullying?
Rosalind Wiseman: I know a lot of parents worry about social backlash if their kids come forward but what I tell kids is that that they have to make a decision in a difficult situation. Either they say nothing and the bullies continue or they say something and you have a chance of addressing it. And honestly, most kids aren’t completely ostracized only for coming forward. They are usually socially vulnerable for additional reasons. Obviously that doesn’t make it their fault, it’s just something to know as you think about it.

Julie: Rosalind, have you seen the new movie “Bully”? What were your thoughts?
Family Circle: Hi Julie, here is a blog post written by Rosalind about the movie “Bully.”
Rosalind Wiseman: “Bully” is an important movie that I think is worth watching for parents and teachers. I also think 7th grade and up can see it. It’s a good movie to begin the conversation about what bullying really looks like and how adults often without realizing it contribute to the problem.
Lisa Mandel: I’m planning to take my teenage sons to see it this weekend. I found it almost too disturbing to sit through. Very powerful.

Mary: What do you do when the school does nothing, nor does the school board? Also what do you do if the teacher is your child’s bully?
Angel: I would love to know what to do when a teacher is the one doing the bullying. We have one teacher in particular that loves to humiliate children in front of the class. Of course when I, and other parents have went to the school about it, we get the same response…”I’m sure that there is probably more to the story, and that the kids were causing trouble”…any suggestions?
Angel: I just want to say that I have twin 13-year-old girls, and they have witnessed some serious bullying over their last couple years in junior high. My girls have stood up for the “underdog” many times; even if it meant having others give them a hard time about it. I just wish the school system took it more seriously than they do.
Rosalind Wiseman: Angel, it’s not easy when kids or anyone for that matters stands up for what’s right.

Family Circle: Thank you for joining our Bullying and Parenting Advice Chat with teen parenting expert Rosalind Wiseman. We hope you enjoyed the chat and got some useful parenting advice. Thank you to Rosalind Wiseman for sharing your expertise, as well as our digital director Lisa Mandel for moderating the discussion. Thanks everyone!
Rosalind Wiseman: Thanks everyone!
Lisa Mandel: Rosalind, it was a pleasure having you. Please come back and chat with us again soon.
Julie: Thanks FC!

Stay tuned for our next chat with Rosalind Wiseman on our Facebook wall!

Check out these links for more parenting advice from Rosalind Wiseman:
“Bully” Movie is Hard to Watch, But Must Be Seen
Q&A: My Daughter Is Being Mean to Her Longtime Friends
Q&A: Should I Contact My Child’s School About a Problematic Teacher?

Jennifer Moncayo is web assistant for FamilyCircle.com.

Q&A: Lee Hirsch, Director of the New Documentary “Bully”

Written on April 5, 2012 at 10:49 am , by

 

In the new documentary Bully, director Lee Hirsch presents an intimate look at how profoundly bullying affects the lives of five children–including two who were driven to commit suicide–and their families. Here, Hirsch talks about making the film, his experience being bullied as a child and what he sees as the solution to bullying.

What inspired you to make the film?
I was bullied as a kid. In elementary and middle school, a group of kids made it their sport to get me every day after school. I had black and blues and my arms were constantly yellow with bruises. It was really, really terrifying. I carried this experience with me and when I became a filmmaker, I knew bullying was a subject I wanted to address—but I didn’t know how to process it and turn it into the right story. Then, around the time when a lot of high profile bullying suicides made national headlines, I knew this film had to be made.

What was your goal?
People often talk about bullying, but there’s a disconnect between the concept and the actual experience of how incredibly violent and terrifying it can be. In part from my own story, I knew how hard it is to communicate how bullying actually happens. We decided to really follow intimately a group of kids and their families to show what they go through–make it live on-screen, and in doing so, be a conversation changer.

How did you select the children you featured?
We found them in different ways. Alex [a 12-year old boy from Sioux City, Iowa] was the heart and soul of the story. The Sioux City district gave us access to film in its schools. On orientation day, we met Alex and saw how other kids would bust past him–we immediately knew he was a kid who was bullied. We learned of other families through the news. With the Smalleys [Ty Smalley, 11, committed suicide in 2010 after being bullied], we reached out to the family and met them the morning of Ty’s funeral. His parents let us know that they wanted us there and wanted people to know what happened. We found Kelby [a 16-year-old lesbian from Tuttle, Oklahoma] through Ellen DeGeneres and her staff. Ellen did a show with the moms of two bullying suicide victims, Carl Joseph Walker and Jaheem Herrera, and Kelby’s mom wrote in to Ellen’s website saying how her family lived in the Bible Belt and was struggling with bullying and how other kids ran over her daughter with a mini van after she came out.

All the kids live in rural areas. Why didn’t you feature any children from urban neighborhoods?
We filmed a family in Minneapolis, but ultimately, the stories were dictated by the access we had to families and schools. It wasn’t a conscious choice to only feature families from small cities, but they were the right choice for the film. Plus, there’s a difference if you’re a family stuck in a town and there’s only one school your kids can attend, no other ballet classes down the street—if you don’t fit into a specific mold, it can feel a lot more suffocating. But we screened the film for a group of black and Latino kids from the South Bronx and they were completely moved and inspired to make a difference. They were absolutely able to connect to the film, even though the settings were so different from their own.

Was it difficult not to step in and intervene while filming?
It was the hardest part of making the film. But ultimately, we did intervene with Alex [once concern for his safety became too great].

One of the most shocking aspects of the film was how clueless many of the school administrators seemed—they appeared unwilling to address bullying or admit it was an issue. Have they seen your film and reacted to it?
It’s been a really amazing journey from our initial conversations with principals, the school board and superintendent. They stuck by us. We screened the film in Sioux City and received a standing ovation. Afterward, Kim Lockwood [an assistant principal featured in the film] said, “I don’t always get it right and I’m trying to do better.” I applaud the entire community for their bravery in airing their dirty laundry in hopes that it’ll change the conversation.

Do you remain in contact with the kids?
I’m in touch with all the kids and their families. They’ve all bonded from being in the film and become their own family. In fact, Alex’s family moved to Oklahoma City to be near the Smalleys and Kelby’s family.

What needs to be done to end bullying?
I think there are many solutions. The one we’re excited about is the opportunity to touch hearts and minds. We want to give kids the encouragement and motivation to see how powerful they can be when they stand up for someone who’s bullied. We’ve had lots of school screenings and seen kids charged up in terms of making the choice. One kid stopped bullying on his school bus and said, “I never would have if I hadn’t seen this film.” We’re also working with school districts and putting together a Facebook tool set that’ll help families know their rights and policies, and talk to schools if their kids are being bullied.

Going back to your experience–when you were bullied as a kid, what’s one thing you wish someone had said or done that might have changed your situation?
There was a group of kids who did stand up for me, which meant the world to me. As I recall, my town was very racially divided—all the white kids ate lunch at one table, all the black kids at another. I was invited to sit at the table with the black kids. They protected me and made me feel safe. That was a game changer. And it goes to show that there’s extraordinary power to stepping up to someone who’s being bullied.

Bully is now in theaters in select cities. Go to bullyproject.com for more information.

Heather Eng is web editor of FamilyCircle.com.

Yes to ‘Bully,’ No to Bullies

Written on March 28, 2012 at 5:20 pm , by

Guest blogger Shawn Marie Edgington on the new documentary Bully.

There’s nothing more urgent in today’s schools than bullying, and there’s a must-see documentary premiering in select theaters on March 30th that powerfully speaks to the growing epidemic titled BullyBully tells the gut-wrenching stories of several children who were victimized by classmates in such a relatable way, that you will find yourself wanting to reach out from your seat to help them. Chances are that the only way your child will get to see Bully is if you or another adult takes them because of the R rating the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America) gave the film.  Unfortunately, the rating has handcuffed the film from being seen in schools due to a very small amount of language in the film.

I was asked to screen Bully earlier this month so I could support the cause of reversing the R rating to PG-13. I invited teens, parents and an officer of Formspring to attend the screening with me, so I could get a strong sense for the film’s content from three different perspectives. I must admit, I went into the film thinking I was going to keep track of the number of “F” bombs that were dropped. I was wrong in a very big way. Twenty-five minutes into the film, I found myself searching for the reason for the film’s R rating. When it was over, all we could do was shake our heads as to what a disservice the MPAA did to such an important issue and film. I’m a conservative parent of teens, an anti-bullying advocate, a bestselling author and a mother who’s experienced both bullying and cyberbullying first-hand. I’m also a firm believer that every parent, educator, administrator and teenager needs to see this film, which brings me to the larger problem.

Many parents and educators think that bullying is a tired social problem that won’t go away and is part of growing up. Even worse, many adults don’t take cyberbullying seriously, and have yet to take the time it takes to understand the long-lasting damage it can cause.

This thought process has got to change, and here’s why:

Cyberbullying can be more damaging than face-to-face verbal harassment, because targets have no refuge. They are assaulted even in the privacy of their own homes. Damaging messages come 24/7 and rumors spread quickly. Since harassers don’t see their target’s reactions, they tend to become even crueler than they would be face-to-face.

Consequences have both short-term and long-term impacts, especially for the target. They often feel isolated, scared, helpless, humiliated and have a hard time trusting anyone, which is exactly why a supportive parent or trusted adult who will stand up for the wrong-doing is a must.

What can you do? You can’t stop the bullies or change their minds, but you can control their access to your children and how you handle a bullying situation in your home. Educate yourself about the problem of bullying and cyberbullying, its causes and consequences. Develop strategies with your child to avoid social problems related to online communication and assess your child’s behavior, on and off campus. Help your child take these important steps:

Block the bullies. You can do this on Facebook through settings, and you can block incoming text messages by calling your service provider. Check out Facebook’s Family Safety Center for more useful tools and resources.

 

Don’t read comments. Some messages and posts are going to get through to your children, either on their phone or Facebook page or from someone else’s. Help your child understand the power of deleting all messages before they read them.  Bullies don’t win their game if their messages aren’t read.

 

Ignore comments that are read or talked about. This is hard to do. Your child wants to defend themself, but the truth is that bullies want them to fight back so they can continue to tear them down.  If your child can find the strength to ignore what the messages say, the bullies will have no way to continue to harass them.

 

Report threats. If your child receives a message that threatens their safety, contains vulgar language directed towards them, or just makes them uncomfortable, they need to know that they can tell you or a teacher, and that they will receive ongoing support. If someone feels like their life or personal belongings like their house or car are being threatened, they should immediately report the threat to the police.  Most states have enacted laws to protect children from cyberbullies.

Give your child a voice. Let them use the art of filmmaking to write and direct their own anti-bullying 2-5 minute film. The Great American NO BULL Challenge is the largest, youth-led national campaign in America that combats cyberbullying at the youth level. Online toolkits about “all things cyberbullying” are available on the campaign site. The annual campaign uses the power of social media to inspire 25 million middle and high school students to promote awareness, courage and equality using social media and filmmaking.

And most importantly, take a few hours out of your busy schedule to see the film Bully. Take as many teens to the film as you can, and advocate for your schools to screen the film–it’s that important and that good! Every middle and high school child needs to see Bully, and you can help make it happen. I can’t help but contemplate that maybe the MPAA had the bigger “picture” in mind when they gave bully its unearned R rating…just maybe it was their brilliant goal to get parents to accompany their children to see the film too? The fact is that today’s teens are very aware of what’s happening to bullied victims every day–it’s the parents and educators who are in the dark and behind the times.

Producer Harvey Weinstein is now releasing the film without a rating, which could further limit who sees the film.  Theater owners have the decision to run a film without a rating, which are typically treated as if they have an NC-17 rating, meaning nobody under 17 can see it.

Share your thoughts about bullying and the MPAA’s rating of Bully in the comments below. Read our other posts about Bully.

Shawn Marie Edgington is founder of the Great American NO BULL Challenge and bestselling author of the Parent’s Guide to Texting, Facebook and Social Media.

Watch Cartoon Network’s New Documentary on Bullying with Your Kids

Written on March 15, 2012 at 10:02 pm , by

Have you been looking for a good way to start a conversation about bullying with your child? This Sunday, March 18, make it a family event to watch Cartoon Network’s new documentary film on bullying, called Speak Up. I’m so proud to tell you about this project because I’ve been working behind-the-scenes on its development. Plus, during and after the telecast, I’ll be answering questions online from parents and kids and talking further with families about key bullying issues at www.StopBullyingSpeakUp.com.

President Obama will be giving the openings statement to the 30-minute film, encouraging students, parents, and teachers to take a stand on bullying. Whatever your politics, it’s so important that our children see our President speak out against bullying. After seeing Mr. Obama speak at the White House Conference on Bullying last March, I can truly say that Mr. Obama cares deeply about this issue, not just as the President but as a father of two young girls.

The movie premieres commercial-free this Sunday at 5:30 p.m. ET (with an encore telecast at 8 p.m.), and shows candid interviews with kids, between 8 and 13, who either are or have been the target of bullies, bystanders in a bullying situation or even bullies themselves. Although it may not be easy, I suggest paying particular attention to the section where the kids share experiences of telling their parents about bullying. It’s always good to check in with your child to see how they feel about asking for help or telling you about a problem like bullying.  Ask them if they have suggestions for how you can improve your reactions and make it easier for them to reach out to you. It’s so important that our kids feel that they can share with us these difficult experiences and my sincere hope is that this film does a small part in doing that.

After the special, I hope you use the film as an on-going resource. To make that easier, Cartoon Network will post the special in its entirety on the website and you can see check it out on Xfinity, Facebook, iTunes and YouTube.com, for at least two weeks following the world premiere.

If you want to have a discussion with your child after you see it, here are some questions to get you started:

Which children said things you agreed with? Why?

Which children said things you disagreed with? Why?

Do you agree with Matt Willhem’s description of tattling or snitching and reporting?

 

Rosalind Wiseman helps families and schools with bullying prevention and media literacy. Her book “Queen Bees and Wannabes” inspired the hit movie “Mean Girls.”  She writes the Ask Rosalind column for Family Circle, and blogs about parenting tweens and teens on Momster.com.

It’s Never Ok to Say Gay When You Really Mean Stupid

Written on February 28, 2012 at 1:49 pm , by

Imagine you’re driving carpool. Your child is sitting shotgun, constantly scanning the radio for everyone’s perfect song. The other three kids are rehashing their day. Everything is good until you hear one of the boys say to another, “Dude, you better improve your basketball skills! Do you have any idea how gay you were in PE class today! If it gets any worse you’re going to have go play on the girls team!” You immediately tense, look in the rearview mirror to gauge the kids’ reaction, and wonder if you should say something. In that instant several thoughts go through your head. You know it was bad but kids say words like that all the time. All the other kids seem to be laughing. If you say something you’re going to embarrass your child. It’s inappropriate to set rules for other people’s kids. And then the moment passes and you feel like you’ve lost your opportunity.

You don’t say anything. Many well-meaning parents can relate to this scenario. But the hard truth is that this is the adult behavior that supports bullying. These are the actions that come across as not wanting to be “the parent” in difficult situations because you’re afraid your child will get angry with you.

If you want to do your part to stop bullying, you have to understand the dynamics at play in that car and you have to say something. You have to clearly communicate what you stand for. So here are some suggestions for how to manage the situation.

When you hear the rude comment, take a deep breath, focus on what you’re about to say as you pull the car over, and put it in park. Take your seat belt off, and turn to face the kids in the back seat, while ignoring your son’s silent begging or death stares. As you make eye contact with all of them say,

You: Josh, I just overheard you tell Mike that he was gay to insult the way he’s playing basketball.

Josh: It’s just what we say! It doesn’t mean the same thing now! Mike doesn’t mind do you?”

Mike: “No, they’re just messing with me. I know they don’t mean it.

You: Here’s the deal. Using words like gay, or like a girl to put someone down is just unacceptable.

Josh: But it’s not our fault if the girls are terrible at basketball that’s just a fact! And gay just means stupid.

You: That’s not the issue. The issue is using those words to make someone feel worthless and not as good as you are.

Josh gives you the stare that you are crazy and annoying. Your son stares out the window pretending he was born into a different family.

If any of you want to talk to your parents about what I just said, please do so. Everybody got it? Good—anyone want to drop by the park on the way home?

It’s also important to end by encouraging the kids to talk to their parents about what you said. Not only because it’s smart to be transparent when you have these teachable moments with other people’s children but it also protects you from any of the kids coming home and accusing you of “screaming and totally freaking out” to their parents.

By the way, this strategy works any time kids say inappropriate and/or mean things around you. I had one mother use this strategy in the car after years of silently putting up with her daughter and her friends trashing other girls. It was important for her to realize how her silence had contributed to the girls’ feeling that they could be so mean and cruel to others. Once she stood her ground, the girls’ behavior improved at home and school.

And one last point. Yes, in the moment when we speak out, we will absolutely embarrass children. In the short term, they won’t like us one bit for getting involved. But it’s only in these moments that our kids see evidence of what our values look like in action, that they really get what’s important to us. They understand that they have a mom or dad who is willing and able to take a public stand when you see people being cruel. That’s a lesson they can take with them for a lifetime.

 

Rosalind Wiseman helps families and schools with bullying prevention and media literacy. Her book “Queen Bees and Wannabes” inspired the hit movie “Mean Girls.” She writes the Ask Rosalind column for Family Circle, and blogs about parenting tweens and teens on Momster.com.

What Should You Do If Your Child Is Bullied by Your Friend’s Child?

Written on February 15, 2012 at 12:21 pm , by

When bullying happens between kids we often forget that parents face their own challenges about how to handle the problem. Things get even more tricky if you’re the parent of the target and you are friends with the parent of the bully. There’s lot of reasons why but here are a few. You may have known the bully since they were little and know the good sides of them. It can be easy to dismiss what your kid says because the bully may act nicely when you’re around. Or it could just come down to the last thing you’d like to do is tell a good friend that their kid is mean. Ironically people think that if you’re good friends, facing situations like these should be easier. But often the opposite is the case. We are usually more reluctant to bring it up, more disappointed, and we worry more about the outcome. The challenge is that these problems usually don’t just disappear;  even if they did, feelings can be hurt on both sides. So, to give you an idea of how I advise people in this situation, I want to share an email I recently received from a mom and my response.

 

 

Hi Rosalind,

Reaching out to get some advice regarding my daughter Rachel and a bully, Sophie, in her school. Sophie has been mean to her on and off the last few years.  Sophie is also on Rachel’s soccer team, so she sees her mostly at recess and then after school at soccer practice.  My husband and I are also friends with Sophie’s parents, which doesn’t help the situation much.  Sophie is now bullying Rachel daily, at recess and on occasion at soccer. We are not sure if we should talk to her parents first about the issue or go directly to her teacher and principal and bypass her parents?  We are concerned that if we tell her parents then Rachel will be blamed for telling on her and the parents may only ground Sophie for a few weeks and then leave it alone.

 

I would greatly appreciate your advice.

 

Thanks kindly,

Julie

 

Dear Julie,

The hard truth is that since you’re friends with Sophie’s parents, you have to talk to them. Here’s the reason, if they find out from the school that you complained about Sophie instead of reaching out to them first, they’ll feel betrayed and therefore much less likely to work with you to solve the problem. And frankly if they felt this way they’d be right. Good friends should be able to say difficult things to each other. Of course, having this conversation can be really challenging so you must be strategic. Your first step is to decide between you and your husband which of you is the calmer representative of the family. I know that mothers usually are the ones to step forward here, but I really want you to consider having your husband do it instead. But no matter who does it (or both of you can too) this conversation needs to be in person or on the phone.

Here’s what he can say, “Because we’re friends this is a little uncomfortable to bring up with you, but it’s really important. We need your help because Sophie is still being mean to Rachel. From what Rachel tells us, it happens during recess and soccer practice. Can you please talk to Sophie about this so this stops? Please know that I know these things can go both ways, so if Rachel ever does anything to Sophie that you want to bring to our attention, please don’t hesitate to tell us. Thanks so much! Hey so do you guys want to check out that movie we were talking about last week?

 

Of course, Sophie’s parents may get defensive or say something to push back. The important thing to remember is that once you have told them, you have done right by them and Rachel. If Sophie does continue to bully Rachel, then it makes sense to involve the school. I talk to many parents who are in similar situations and I am happy to report that more often than not, when the other parents are approached with respect, the situation improves. But even if it doesn’t, you still have to do this because Rachel needs to see that when she’s bullied you can effectively advocate for her.

 

Teens Stand Up Against Bullying

Written on January 19, 2012 at 4:12 pm , by

Guest blogger Shawn Edgington on the NO BULL Challenge.

“Mom, I can’t go back to school, they want to kill me!” These are the words every parent fears, and hopes never to hear.  As the mother of a teenage girl who received death threats by text and on her Facebook page, I know first-hand how difficult it is when cyberbullies target your child.  I also know how critical it is for parents and educators to take the right steps before a cyberbullying situation goes viral.

It’s difficult to know when to act, because more than 80% of the time, adults don’t really know what’s happening within a child’s online world.  That said, what is a parent or an educator to do if they aren’t aware when a child really needs help?  Teens are falling witness to cyberbullying incidents every day, and in most cases, make the decision to remain silent about what they see or read.

The important questions to ask yourself are:  Does your constantly connected teen know when to take a “friend’s” dark or desperate status update as a serious cry for help?  Can your teenager recognize a potentially unhealthy or dangerous post when they see one?  The unfortunate truth is, most of the time we are left to rely on another child’s online friends to intervene by getting help on their behalf, which isn’t happening enough.  This is why every teen needs to know what to watch out for, how to stand up for their peers, when to report and who to go to for help before it’s too late.

What can parents and educators do to empower teens to stand up and help their fellow students in need?  Have them take The Great American NO BULL Challenge, the largest student-led campaign to fight bullying and cyberbullying in America. The annual campaign inspires America’s 25 million teens to learn how to eliminate bullying from their lives by creating a video with an anti-bullying message.  Students and educators are provided all of the information they need to know about making a video, cyberbullying basics, standing up, prevention, and intervention tips via the online NO BULL Cyberbullying 411 toolkits. View one of the NO BULL teen created videos submitted at: http://nobull.votigo.com/contests/showentry/1016336

The NO BULL Challenge gives teenagers the chance to compete for $25,000 in prizes and the opportunity to have their winning videos introduced to the world at the star-studded NO BULL Teen Video Awards show in San Francisco, promoted by Live Nation.  At the Teen Video Awards gala, students will watch artists perform live and meet their favorite celebrities on the red carpet. The spotlight will shine on the student-made films pertaining to NO BULL, offer students the chance to win thousands of dollars’ worth of prizes, and have their video presented center stage for the world to witness.

The Great American NO BULL Challenge is a massive collaboration between iSafe, National Organizations for Youth Safety, FCCLA, Dr. Mehmet Oz’s HealthCorps, teenDailyStrength, 4-H, Students Against Destructive Decisions, The Anti-Defamation League, Business Professionals of America, Project Change, American School Counselor Association, The California Endowment and Health Happens Here, iKeepSafe.org, The Megan Meier Foundation, National Collaboration for Youth, The Bully Police Squad, Communities in Schools, and The Boys and Girls Clubs of America, Formspring, among others.

Now through March 14th, students in the 6th through 12th grade can submit their video at www.nobullchallenge.org and at www.facebook.com/NOBULLChallenge.

There is one thing that I know for sure; if we can educate and inspire America’s teens on how to stand up for what is right and say “NO BULL!” to all of the online mayhem, we will be steps ahead on the war against cyberbullying.

–SHAWN EDGINGTON

Shawn Edgington is the Founder and President of the Great American NO BULL Challenge and the bestselling author of The Parent’s Guide to Texting, Facebook and Social Media:  Understanding the Benefits and Dangers of Parenting in a Digital World. Shawn is also the CEO of a national insurance firm in California where she lives with her family.