Friday, February 10, 2012

What Is Unique About My Blog

Welcome to Friendship Friday
Today is friendship Friday and I am happy to answer the question : What makes your blog unique?

             The one thing that makes my blog unique is I named it after my book of short stories.  I believe all children are important, and we must make a concerted effort to meet their needs emotionally and educationally.  As a classroom teacher and a mother of three, I am committed to making a difference in the lives of my own children and those in my classroom.  My posts are a handy resource for parents and educators. For instance, this week is bully awareness week, and I have written a couple of articles on this very important subject.  Here is a website where one can find information on how to handle bullies.   Read article one and  two here.


Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The Ugly Side of Bullying: What to do to Support your child Part II

I knew long before Columbine that something drastic needed to be done with the issue of bullying.  In 1992, I observed in horror as I watched the Sunday morning news.  “Middle school student committed suicide.”  The news anchor went on to explain the student was a victim of bullying in her school.  Well, that middle school student was a former student of mine.   The next-day counselors flooded our school in the hope of helping the student body deal with the tragedy.  I was riddled with guilt even though I made sure the bullies   did not bother her while in my class.  As I stated in my first article, bullies are very adept at what they do. 

Unfortunately, the teachers could not walk the girl home from school each day. The bullies followed her home and took their meanness to the highest level.  Bullies had a field day with her because the student came from a broken home.  The girl’s mother abandoned her, and the poor child bounced from one foster care to another.

Why in a civilized nation should any child end his or her life due to bullying?  What is wrong with this picture? The only answer I have for the aforementioned questions:  We cannot change what happened in the past, but we can be diligent that no other child’s life will come to an abrupt end.

Suicide is more common among kids who are bullied than most people realize.  I remember reaching a low point when I first came to the United States. It was hard adjusting to a new culture; I did not need to be taunted by a bunch of bullies. You can read a published article about experiences here.

What I have learned over the years both as a parent and as a teacher is you must be persistent.  Sometimes, you have to get the authorities involved.  I remember too well one girl in my class whose mother filed charges against a boy who constantly taunted her daughter.   Mooing a girl because of her large breasts goes beyond bullying-It falls in the category of sexual harassment.  The boy doing the mooing was obstinate. The incident had been reported to the principal, and many meetings with the boy’s parents proved futile. Can you imagine the embarrassment of a 12-year girl being made fun of every time she walked down the hallway in her school?   "Mooo, mooo , mooo, we need to milk the cow," chanted the boy.

Thankfully, her mom notified the authorities, and the boy had to appear in court. The family had to pay a hefty fine.  The bullying and teasing came to a screeching halt.

My wish for anyone reading this post is to take time and hug your child if you have one.  Pay close attention and listen to your child.  Teachers, please keep a watchful eye in your classroom.   I am very thankful things are better than they were before Columbine.  Read an article about how things have changed since Columbine.  Valentine’s Day is only a few days away, let us make an effort to say, “I Love You” to a child or an adult.

Monday, February 6, 2012

The Ugly Side of Bullying: What You Can Do to Support Your Child

Columbine happened in my own backyard only twenty minutes from where I live.  I am sure many schools learned a valuable lessons with Columbine.   In honor of Bully Awareness week, I am inspired to write a post in the hopes others will get inspired  too.

February 6-10th is bully awareness week.  Do you have a child in school?  Chances are at one point your child may have been bullied in one or more ways.  No one is immune from the devastating blows bullying causes to one’s self-esteem.  What most parents do not know is kids are scared to report incidents of bullying because of fear.  If a child does not report the incident, then it makes it so much easier for the one doing the bullying to continue to cause harm.

Here are a few things parents can do to make sure their kids are not victims of bullying.
  • Monitor closely your child’s behavior at home.  Is he/she suddenly withdrawn?    
  • Does your child make excuses about not going to school? Find out the reason.
  • Is your child suddenly doing poorly in school? Again, look into why grades have fallen.
  • Does your child have problems making friends? This is more difficult to pinpoint; you might want to visit your child’s classroom to observe how the other kids react towards your child. Perhaps it might be a good idea to talk to your child’s teacher.  

  All of the above may be signs that your child may be a victim of bullying. The best thing a parent can do is to take the time to support your child and not let the situation get out of control.
 I knew right away, that something was severely wrong with my daughter.  Her senior year of high school, she suddenly stopped going out.  After talking to her numerous times, I found out her friends started drinking, and she did not want to go down that road.  Consequently, her friends started treating her like an outcast.  In fact, they deliberately did not invite her to any of their social functions.  She had been labeled “A goody two shoes” It tore me up inside to watch my daughter go through this.  Deliberately excluding someone from participating is a form of bullying because you are not good enough if you do not do what the group wants you to do.

As a concerned and caring parent, I talked to my daughter and the nights her friends went out socializing without her, we rented movies, we went out eating and shopping.  I am sure she would have preferred to be with people her own age, but what I did helped reassure that I cared, and it gave her comfort.  I believe, this is what we must do as parents to help bridge the gap to help our children. Eventually her friends came to realize drinking was wrong and made amends with my daughter.  I am glad she stood on the principles she had been taught.

As a classroom teacher, I understand how bullies work.  Most often, the person doing the bullying are very adept at making their victim miserable.  The most important thing I have done is to make my classroom a safe environment.  I do my best to develop a great rapport with my students.  Once I am able to develop that rapport, they can easily trust me.  I have my classroom rules posted in my classroom so it is clear that bullying or teasing of any kind will not be tolerated.  Understanding the mindset of a bully has led me to write my book of short stories titled: My Birthday Is September Eleven and Other Short Stories.  One of the stories “Zebra Boy” helps shed light on the problem with biracial children.  Biracial children have become a major target for bullies.   I have intercepted many notes written by bullies depicting biracial children in the most vicious ways. Again, in my opinion, the best defense is to develop a good relationship with your student or child, so he/ she can come seek help.  I also believe school districts have a responsibility to educate the student body on diversity.
As responsible parents and teachers, let us make a deliberate effort to make a change in a child’s life. Let us make 2012 the best Bully Awareness year ever.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012