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Posts Tagged ‘bullying in schools’

We have spent quite a bit of time this month researching and blogging about bullying. We have come to the conclusion that as a culture if we all dig a little deeper into our own lives, we could lessen the problem of bullying greatly.

Children live what they are taught.  What is it about our culture that is creating an atmosphere of bullying and emotional and physical abuse in our schools?  There are many complicated answers to this question.  As adults, if we start doing what we tell our children to do, and stop doing what we tell our children not to do we will be a kinder nation.  Think about it:

  • Where do you put your free-time energy?  Do you support through your viewership the sitcoms that zing the one-line insults back and forth like candy?  Why is it ok and sanctioned to hear other people insulted as entertainment with a laugh track?  Do you support violent dramas and movies?  Do you listen to music that is disrespectful and violent?
  • How do you handle yourself in your personal life?  Do you gossip about other people?  Do you talk about people behind their backs instead of productive mediation and problem-solving?  If you do, you’re not alone.  Most of us do, to one extent or another.
  • When you have a disagreement with your friends, collegues, partner, or children, do you fight fair?  Do you say hurtful and mean things to get the upper hand on the situation?   Again, you’re not alone, we have all done it at some point in our lives.
  • When your adult friends are engaging in what we would define as bullying behavior for children, how do you react?  Do you ignore it, or do you stand up and try to do something about it.   It is ok to create a No Bullying Zone in your own life.
  • Lastly, and most importantly, are you a bully to yourself?  How we treat ourselves is often times how we treat other people.  Learn to be kind, and gentle, and loving with yourself, and let that spill out to all you meet.

Chief Robert and Terri Lynn TallTree
www.thetalltrees.com

“Teach us love, compassion and honor…that we may heal the Earth, and heal each other.”   – Ojibwe prayer

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When we’re conducting staff development programs or parent programs at schools, one point that we stress is:

Bullying is not a rite of passage, and should not be blown off as a “boys will be boys” or “kids will be kids” situation.  Bullying is not ok, and chronic bullying can have serious short-term and long-term physical and emotional affects including: 

  • Skin disorders, such as acne in high school students
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Overeating or loss of appetite
  • Panic Attacks
  • Loss of sleep or sleeping too much
  • Stomach aches
  • Chest pains
  • Headaches
  • More colds and viruses
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Aggression
  • Long-term Social Isolation

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In our Native culture, we teach our children that diversity is to be honored and revered.  Just as there are no two stars exactly alike in the universe, there are no two children exactly alike on Earth.  It is so important to honor and respect each others’ differences.

We have found in our public and private elementary, middle, and high schools that diversity is something that is not typically honored by the school children.  Any child who displays a perceived difference from the norm is a likely target of bullying.  Parents and teachers, your child or student is especially vulnerable to bullying if they display any of the following characteristics:

  • Obesity
  • Speech impediments, or irregular speech patterns
  • Racial difference from the norm at the school
  • Developmental, emotional, or behavioral disability- please be aware that autistic children are especially vulnerable
  • Physical disability – particularly when involving crutches, braces, or a wheelchair
  • Low – or lower than the norm – socio-economic status
  • Elementary school and middle school girls who physically mature earlier than most of their peers
  • Elementary school and middle school boys who physically mature later than most of their peers

Parents and teachers, tell your children consistently that they are gifts to the world,  Tell them they are bright and shining stars.  If you have a child in your life with one or more of the characteristics above, please take special care in fostering the child’s self-esteem, and making sure that they are safe at school and at home.

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Several times a year we return to Robert’s homeland in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan.  Besides Mom, we still have many aunts, uncles, and cousins living on the rez.  We also travel to many other nations throughout Indian Country, and we would be remise to talk about bullying without taking the time to recognize the special issues faced by Native children who live on reservations across this great nation.  

On some reservations in the United States, the conditions are equivalant to the quality of life in a 3rd world country.  If you are like most middle-class Americans, you probably were not aware of this. Risk factors that trigger bullying are often higher on the reservation.  These children may face:

  • Stereotypes and misconceptions of what it means to be Native American, and inherent bullying by the predominant culture
  • Generational poverty
  • Generational alcoholism and drug addiction
  • Poor nutrition and diet
  • Substandard and Inadequate housing
  • Family structures that are not intact

And the list goes on… As human beings, we need to recognize the differences that we all have, and respect each others’ cultures and beliefs. It is only through this respect that people will find their inherent dignity.

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When in doubt, go back to the basics when teaching your children about bullying.  Remember this poem from a book that was popular about 20 years ago? We think it will put a smile on your child’s face – even if your child is an adult.

All I Really Need To Know
I Learned In Kindergarten

by Robert Fulghum www.robertfulghum.com

– an excerpt from the book, All I Really Need To Know I Learned in Kindergarten

All I really need to know I learned in kindergarten.
ALL I REALLY NEED TO KNOW about how to live and what to do
and how to be I learned in kindergarten. Wisdom was not
at the top of the graduate-school mountain, but there in the
sandpile at Sunday School. These are the things I learned:

Share everything.

Play fair.

Don’t hit people.

Put things back where you found them.

Clean up your own mess.

Don’t take things that aren’t yours.

Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody.

Wash your hands before you eat.

Flush.

Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.

Live a balanced life – learn some and think some
and draw and paint and sing and dance and play
and work every day some.

Take a nap every afternoon.

When you go out into the world, watch out for traffic,
hold hands, and stick together.

Be aware of wonder.
Remember the little seed in the styrofoam cup:
The roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody
really knows how or why, but we are all like that.

Goldfish and hamsters and white mice and even
the little seed in the Styrofoam cup – they all die.
So do we.

And then remember the Dick-and-Jane books
and the first word you learned – the biggest
word of all – LOOK.

Everything you need to know is in there somewhere.
The Golden Rule and love and basic sanitation.
Ecology and politics and equality and sane living.

Take any of those items and extrapolate it into
sophisticated adult terms and apply it to your
family life or your work or your government or
your world and it holds true and clear and firm.
Think what a better world it would be if
all – the whole world – had cookies and milk about
three o’clock every afternoon and then lay down with
our blankies for a nap. Or if all governments
had a basic policy to always put things back where
they found them and to clean up their own mess.

And it is still true, no matter how old you
are – when you go out into the world, it is best
to hold hands and stick together.

Gakina-awiiya (We Are All Related),

Chief Robert and Terri Lynn TallTree
www.thetalltrees.com

“Teach us love, compassion and honor…that we may heal the Earth, and heal each other.”   – Ojibwe prayer

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Cyber Bullying Resources

“As America’s kids prepare to go back to school, national law enforcement leaders released a poll showing that one in three teens and one in six preteens have been victims of cyber bullying. The leaders estimate that more than 13 million children aged 6 to 17 were victims of cyber bullying. More than 2 million of those victims told no one about the attacks.” 

www.fightcrime.org/releases.php?id=231

This is unacceptable. 

Here is a link with some excellent resources if you are in the beginning stages of learning about cyber-bullying:

www.cyberbullying.us/links.php

Gakina-awiiya (We Are All Related),

Chief Robert and Terri Lynn TallTree
www.thetalltrees.com

“Teach us love, compassion and honor…that we may heal the Earth, and heal each other.”   – Ojibwe prayer

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Cyber Language/Internet Slang

We were musing over our post yesterday, and realized that many parents and teachers might not even know cyber-bullying if they saw it, because of the crazy shorthand, cyber language, and internet slang kids and adults use nowadays.  There’s a great site – www.netlingo.com – where you can decypher your child’s language.  We found an online language translator too that you may find helpful – www.worldlingo.com.

Gakina-awiiya (We Are All Related),

Chief Robert and Terri Lynn TallTree
www.thetalltrees.com

“Teach us love, compassion and honor…that we may heal the Earth, and heal each other.”   – Ojibwe prayer

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