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Posts Tagged ‘bullying’

 

CHANGE IS NEEDED BY ALL

Victor S. Gonzales, Principal

La Luz Elementary School

The year 2009 looks to be an unprecedented time in American history! A very important election has just passed and we, educators, are anxiously waiting to see if our elected officials will actually “walk the walk”. Change was the term used by most, if not all politicians spoken across our country. Our economy, foreign relationships throughout the world, and the war in Iraq were the major topics discussed in debates and campaigns from all parties represented during this election season. Education, unfortunately, appeared to have been of little interest for most Americans as the campaigns progressed along. While the economy and our diplomatic relationships around the world are very important issues that must be addressed, we must not forget how education impacts our future.

Education, for most Americans, is specifically looked at and critiqued based on student performance in reading, mathematics and writing. However, most people seem to forget that public schools are also given the responsibility of teaching and modeling appropriate social behaviors to be practiced in and out of the school setting. There was a period of time when the vast majority of families taught these skills through reinforcing family values and beliefs. Recently, President-elect Barack Obama released a campaign commercial in which he reminded all of us that it is time for parents to get involved with their child’s education. He recommended that parents begin this effort by turning off the television. He’s right! The time spent watching television and playing video games could be spent engaging in conversation, reinforcing positive values which affect children’s academic and social skills.

During the past two years, La Luz Elementary invited special guests from Colorado who presented “life-long” messages for students and staff members. Robert and Terri TallTree are Native Americans who provide interactive school assemblies and professional development for students and educators throughout the country. The programs, entitled

“Walking in Wisdom,” addressed the power of self-images through the creative use of Native American storytelling, ancient songs and legends, sign language and humor. The emphasis being on self-respect and respect for life. Our kids were repeatedly told throughout the programs that they are a “gift to the world”. The gifts given to each and everyone of us include what the TallTrees call “The Three Arrows of Power”.

The first arrow is the thoughts we think. We must use our thoughts wisely. Thoughts can be more powerful than the atomic weapon, if we think about it.

The second arrow is the words we speak. The old cliché, “sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me,” is not true, according to message we learned from the TallTrees. As many of us have experienced in the past or perhaps the present, words are sharp and they can cut like a knife, leaving permanent scars.

The final arrow and most powerful message given to us by the TallTrees are the actions we take. We all must learn to help one another and take care of our precious resources.

Can you imagine if all human beings, including our politicians, followed this simple message shared to us by the TallTrees? What a difference we could make in our world! This should be the “change” we are all looking forward to in the very near future!

For more information regarding the TallTrees, please feel free to visit their website at:

http://www.thetalltrees.com.

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TALLTREE PRESENTATION

Dulce Middle School

Student responses regarding this presentation at Dulce Middle School on Friday, December 12, 2008

  • “Yes, I liked it because they said true stuff about how you should think of yourself and not worry about what other think of you.”
  • “I learned about stories they had about their tribe.  I liked their presentation.”
  • “Yes, I liked it.  The story taught me who they were.”
  • “I liked the presentation because it was very interesting and informative.”
  • “I liked the program.  The thing that I really liked was the songs they performed.”
  • “They shared their stories about being respectful.  I liked the story about ‘The Three Arrows’.
  • “I liked the dress that TallTree’s mother gave his wife.  I liked it”.
  • “I learned to ‘just be yourself’ and do anything you can and want to do”.
  • “It was very wonderful. I liked the music! It was really good.”
  • “Have I made a difference?  Yes, I have!”
  • “The one thing that jumped out at me was when they said a friend is always beside you and is sticking up for you.”
  • “I liked the music, because it was so calming!”
  • “The one thing I learned was not being ashamed of what your dreams are.”
  • “I liked the music because it was awesome and sounded cool.”
  • “Where ever you go, there you are!”
  • “Yes, I learned something from these people.  I learned that you can do anything.”
  • “I learned you can go all over the world and get paid for it.”
  • “Follow your dreams. It was good!”
  • “Probably to work harder at what I want to be.”
  • “Yea, I liked it.  What I learned is to make a difference.  I really liked the music because it was calming and nice.”
  • “I learned that I can be a warrior or a leader.  I loved today’s presentation.”
  • “So, I loved what I learned about because I can do anything I want to do.  If I put my mind and heart to it I can do anything.  The music was very nice to listen to and it calmed me down and relaxed me.”
  • “It was alright, I guess!!!
  • I liked when Mr. TallTree told the story about the great lakes.

Just a note your way to share with you how positively wonderful the program was that the TallTrees presented to the Elementary and Middle

School students here in the Dulce Independent School District.  I have attached some of the students responses  when they were surveyed about

their opinion of the presentation/s. We appreciate the opportunity to have meet both of the TallTrees and listen to their music, stories, traditional ways.  Our students felt they had a calming effect upon them.

Thank you!

 Sincerely,

Barbara Ashcraft, DMS Principal

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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 confronted with evidence of being a bully, your child or student may respond “I wasn’t being a bully, we were having a fight.”  When faced with this justification, here are some questions you may ask your child to elicit a discussion of what it means to be a bully.  We believe that in this situation yelling at your child or punishing them in some other manner is not helpful.  Children are inherently kind.  Help your child see what it means to be unkind. 

  1.  What were you fighting over?
  2. Was it a fair fight?  If it was a physical fight, do you out-weigh, or are you older than the other child?  If it was a verbal fight, was it fair?  Were you saying mean things just to be mean?
  3. What did you want the outcome to be?  What did you expect to happen? What actually happened instead?
  4. Looking back on it, was it really a fight, or were you being a bully?
  5. What can you do differently next time to change the outcome of the situation?
  6. If you were being a bully, how can you make amends to the child you bullied?  Can you offer an apology?  Can you sit next to them at lunch tomorrow?  Can you smile and say hi?  Can you walk with them to school?  For younger children, can you arrange a play date?  What can you do to make up for being a bully?

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