MEAN GIRLS 2: It’s Back and Taking Bullying Straight On!

What is a mean girl?

Who is a mean girl?

Just ask Jessica G. from St. Augustine Beach, and she will tell you it is a girl at school that is constantly teasing her about her weight.  That girl has a name, her name is Katie.  Katie is what many would call a mean girl. “Katie likes to say things to me in front of others, which is twice as embarrassing.  I am afraid to eat in front of other kids now.  I am trying to lose weight and I am losing weight slowly, but when she moo’s at me, it only make me want to eat more.”

Tina Fey’s blockbuster hit, Mean Girls hit theaters in 2004.  Immediately many kids and parents could relate and sadly, many saw themselves in the acting of Lindsay Lohan and the story that gave bullying a face.

Mean Girls 2” picks up where the first left off, at the same North Shore High with the same deadpan principal, Mr. Duvall who clearly hates his life.

What has changed is the increase of bullying awareness and bullying prevention programs.

Did you know that bullies are more likely to:

•Get into frequent fights
•Steal and vandalize property
•Drink alcohol and smoke
•Report poor grades which could result not getting into college
•When cyberbullying and getting caught could face arrest depending on the degree of the incident
•Perceive a negative climate at school
•Carry a weapon

How can you help prevent bullying?

Report Bullying

Don’t be afraid to tell an adult. Telling isn’t tattling! You are helping someone.

Who should you tell?

You could tell your parents, teacher, school counselor, school nurse, coach or any adult you trust. Be sure to tell exactly what happened … who was bullied, who the bully was, where and when it happened. Even if you suspect a kid is being bullied, it’s a good idea to report that, too. Most adults really do care about bullying and will be glad that you told them about it.

If you tell an adult and you don’t think they are doing anything about the bullying or if the situation isn’t improving, tell another adult. Keep telling adults until someone does something to help.

Be A Friend To Someone Who Is Being Bullied

Just being supportive to a person who’s been bullied is comforting. It shows that someone or many people care.

When someone is down they need a friend. Be there for the person who is being bullied. Be a buddy on school grounds, get together after school, include them in activities, Walk home with them, sit with them on the bus. Being an understanding and supportive friend means so much. Show a kid who is being bullied that you care about them.

Stand Up To The Bully

If you feel safe and comfortable, tell the bully that what they are doing is mean and wrong. It’s not cool and they should stop. Keep it simple. Do not bully them back. If you are not comfortable standing up to the bully, tell an adult.

You can watch “Mean Girls 2” on ABC Family on Sunday, January 23rd at 8PM ET/PT. Be sure to stay tuned at the end of the movie for a special PSA with actress Meaghan Martin on bullying and its impact. ABC Family has partnered with STOMP Out Bullying™ to help speak to the heart of the issue. For more information on “Mean Girls 2” visit www.abcfamily.com.

Source: Stomp Out Bullying

Watch PSA here. Watch trailer here.

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Reasons Why Parents Need to Worry About their Teens Online

According to the results of one survey I read, 46.9% of internet users are under the age of 25.  Taking those results, this article should be an interesting one.  While part of that percentage is probably in their twenties, that leaves a big number below the age of 18.

It is wonderful how new technology has brought us closer to all points of the world.  Technology, especially the Internet has made our once big world small; Insomuch that at any given time we can talk to China or Australia and never leave our home in rural America.  While for the business world that may be a good thing, it goes without saying that for our children, it is a little much for them to be experiencing so much of the world so soon.

I enjoy watching the TV show “To catch a predator”.  Maybe enjoy isn’t the correct word, but it is interesting to say the least.  Maybe the part I like best about is to see the would be pedophile caught, and watch him squirm.  Also knowing it is a foiled attempt to actually meet a young innocent teenager. I like watching as they are hauled off to jail to stay awhile and think about what they are doing or were about to do.  How many are actually rehabilitated is a million dollar question.

The outcry from parents has been so loud against pop-up pornography sites that the Microsoft people have played a big part in stopping most pop-ups.  As careful as I am about certain sites my PC got viruses and I had to have it commercially cleaned.  I was appalled at what they found – so thankfully it was removed with no harm done except the fee I had to pay for getting it cleaned up.

Without thinking young people fill in applications for this or that, leaving themselves open to the world with all their information; from age to sex to likes and dis-likes.  Nothing is hidden on the WWW.  Parents beware of what your children are telling about themselves.  Spammers are good at what they do.  And once Spammed is too late to keep it from happening.

A recent article about parents in China, showed that 42.6 percent of the parents surveyed “strongly oppose their children’s use of Internet” or “relatively oppose”, while as high as 78.4 percent say they worry that surfing Internet could adversely affect children’s study. Another 44.9 percent worry about their children’s exposure to pornography online.

I remember when CHAT was the thing back in the 90’s.  It was weird to get on a chat with people one did not know just to talk (chat) awhile.  It opened up an exciting venture for teens to introduce themselves and chat with people around the world.  Now the truth is – were they from down the street?  Across town?  Was their name really Jack or Mary?  There are a lot of messed up people in the world and children are not mature enough to know the difference in real versus crazy people.

Now there is the ChatRoulette which is supposed to be for viewers above18 years or older, however there is not a place to enter the birth date of the viewer.  By the name Roulette, it gives us a good picture of the content.  It is easily accessible using Skype and what the viewer sees on the screen is anyone’s guess and from what I read it can get pretty graphic even porn-a-graphic.

One thinks of the internet as a place to do research and study.  Invariably it has taken place of my set of World Book Encyclopedia’s.  However not everything on the Internet is true. Just because it is in print and somehow got on the internet, does not make it Gospel.  Everyone has an opinion.  Opinions are not History.  History is an actual accepted record of what happened at a certain point in time.

Kim Komando of CyberSpeak,  brought up an interesting subject with the following:  “We all know that music can alter your mood. Sad songs can make you cry. Upbeat songs may give you an energy boost. But can music create the same effects as illegal drugs?”

This seems like a ridiculous question. But websites are targeting your children with so-called digital drugs. These are audio files designed to induce drug-like effects.  All your child needs is a music player and headphones.”

Do you find this as scary as I do?   I wish I were knowledgeable enough to even discuss it, however it would bear great urgency for Parents to check it out.  I found the information on the USA Today site.  Very informative.

Then there is U Tube, the place where a megabyte of fame is worth everything.  Kids have excess to cameras every day; on their phone or mini video cameras.  In a moment when a young lady has let her guard down can change her life forever.  Or for that matter a young man, being teased can be shown on the WWW and he is embarrassed for life.  What may have started out as a joke, may wind up as being harassment.

We cannot keep our children locked up for short seven years of their teens.  The Internet is technology that is here to stay.  And from the youngest of ages, our children are being exposed to the World Wide Webb.

Warren Buckleitner, editor of Children’s Technology Review says, “Kids are surrounded by screens in a way like never before, at home, in their pockets, in the minivan, and they know how to use them at younger and younger ages and Parents must be a part of it.” He goes on to say:  “”If you’re going to allow your kid to go to a website or play a game, you have to first check it out yourself.  Think about it, you don’t let your child eat a meal you’ve never tasted before.”

Special guest contributor: Kate Crosten of Internet Services

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Bullying: Ten Top Ways Parents to Help Prevent Bullying

Recent events have revealed just how rampant and cruel the bullying problem has become. The days of letting kids work things out by themselves or encouraging them to hash things out by the playground are long gone, as these strategies are proving to be much more dangerous than they once were. One thing is certain — parents play a huge role in the school bullying solution. Whether your kid is the aggressor or the victim, your words and support may be the most important tools in solving the problem. Here are 10 ways parents can prevent bullying:

  1. Talk to Your Kids: You may talk to your kids about homework, grades and school activities every day, but there are bigger issues happening in school that deserve to be discussed, as well. Bullying is a serious topic that parents and kids seem to skirt over far too often. An effective way to prevent bullying is to talk to your children about bullying. Depending on your relationship with your child and their willingness to share, you may have to wait until they approach you instead of prying information out of them. It takes a great deal of courage for your child to tell you that he or she is being bullied, so it’s important that you take it seriously and keep your emotions in check. Reiterate to your child that you want to help end the bullying and prevent it from happening again. Don’t hold back from asking your son or daughter who was involved, how it happened, and where each bullying incident has taken place. The more details you can obtain about the bullying episodes, the greater the chance of putting an end to the abuse when you contact school officials.
  2. Listen to Your Kids: Once you’ve established an open line of communication with your child, it’s so important that you listen intently to what he or she is saying. Listen to the details of your child’s bullying episodes so you can report these facts to school officials. Bullying is a sensitive subject for both the child and parent. You may be tempted to lash out at the bully’s parents or give the school a piece of your mind, but this irrational behavior could make matters worse. Before jumping to action, allow your child to share his or her experiences and simply listen. If your kid hasn’t opened up about being bullied or bullying others, give them a chance to tell you first, but always keep your ears open for anything that’s out of the norm or worrisome.
  3. Look for Signs: Children of all ages have a way of keeping things from their parents, especially when they are being bullied. Your son or daughter may hold back from telling you because they are embarrassed, don’t want to be a “tattletale” or are afraid that you might intervene and make it worse. If you think something could be wrong but your child’s lips are sealed, you should be on the lookout for signs of bullying. You may not necessarily see your child crying or sulking, but there are almost always signs that something is wrong. Victims of bullying often display signs of depression, loneliness and feel sick more than ever. Be observant of any unusual behavior, attitude changes and avoidance of social activities, and gently approach your child about these issues to see if bullying is the cause.
  4. Stop Bullying in Progress: Many adults stay out of bullying incidents because they want kids to work it out together. The problem is kids usually don’t work things out and the bullying only continues to get worse when left alone. Parents can’t be afraid to stop bullying incidents in progress and break things up. Even children can prevent or stop bullying incidents in progress by verbally or physically defending the victim and displaying their moral engagement. Intervening in a bullying incident gives parents a chance to set things straight with both children and protect the victim from further harm. Most bullying incidents take place after school, so a parent might be able to observe a confrontation at this time. Parents should encourage their kids to stop bullying in progress, whether they interject or get a school official to. No one should turn their back on a bullying incident. Period.
  5. Do Not Encourage Physical Retaliation: Never encourage physical retaliation as a means to prevent bullying. No matter how mad you are that your child has been bullied, you can’t fight abuse with abuse. Not only does fighting completely contradict this moral lesson, but it could also get your son or daughter suspended, expelled or make the situation worse. Teach your child to ignore bullies and walk away before anyone gets physical, then report the event to a school official or someone of authority.
  6. Contact School Officials: One surefire way to prevent bullying is to bring it to the school’s attention. Parents should contact school officials, such as teachers, principals and school counselors and give them factual information about the bullying events. It’s important to emphasize that you expect the bullying to stop and will work closely with the school staff to find a solution for your child and other victims of bullying. School officials will contact the parents of the child who was bullying to make them aware of the issue and set up parent-teacher conferences if need be.
  7. Help Your Child be Resilient: As you work with your child and school officials to put an end to the bullying incidents, you can help your child become more resilient to bullying. Shifting their attention towards something positive will help them overcome the emotional effects of being bullied. You should encourage your kids to develop new talents or participate in positive activities, such as art, sports or music to highlight their positive attributes and help them make new friends outside of class.
  8. Teach Moral Values and Give Love at Home: As a parent, you have a direct influence on your child’s social behavior, beliefs and treatment of others. Children who bully generally come from homes that lack warmth, supervision and parent involvement, and emphasize harsh, physical discipline and bullying. It’s never too late for parents to teach moral values and ethical behavior to their kids. Children should feel safe and loved in their home, and there should always be open lines of communication between parents and their children. In order to prevent bullying, you can’t allow bullying in your household either.
  9. Set Clear Rules in Your House: If your son or daughter bullies other children, you need to take this issue very seriously and nip it in the bud before it worsens. Parents of bullies should take an active role to stop bullying and prevent it. One way to curb bullying is to set clear rules in your house and make it clear that bullying will not be tolerated under any circumstances. In addition, teach children about genuine empathy and help them understand the impact of their behavior.
  10. Join or Start a Bullying Prevention Group: Parents can stay involved in the school’s efforts to prevent bullying and take a proactive stance on this serious issue. You can do so by joining or starting a bullying prevention group that puts this real life issue into perspective for parents. No one person can stop bullying alone, nor should it be the sole responsibility of a school official. Parents, teachers, principals, administrators and counselors should work together to prevent bullying at schools. They can meet to discuss bullying issues at the school and report incidents, as well as plan bullying prevention rules, policies and activities that will make a difference in the culture of the school.

Source: Criminal Justice Guide

Bullying: What Side Are You On?

Is there another side of bullying?  Has our country overacted in some instances?

On October 11th, life ended for 16 year-old prep-school student Hunter Perkins of Virginia.  He shot himself in his basement.  Teen suicide. We hear of it, probably too often, however it is sometimes connected to a teen being a victim of bullying.  Just last month we heard of the tragic suicide of Tyler Clementi after his classmate sent a viral video of Tyler’s private life on the Internet.

Hunter Perkins attended The Groten School, which is considered an elite school.  He was accused of creating sexually demeaning comics about another student with two other boys.  Walter Perkins, his father, in no way condoned this behavior but feels the school overeacted when they asked him to withdraw his son from the school.

According to the Boston Herald, Mr. Perkins said: ‘I was going to see that he had sensitivity training. I didn’t feel he deserved the death penalty.’

He also says Hunter had been on antidepressants and saw a psychaitrist hours before his death.  Walter Perkins feels since this incident was on the heels of the Rutger’s University suicide of Tyler Clementi, that The Groten School went too far with their punishment of asking Hunter Parker to withdraw from the school.  (Watch video on sidebar).

Bullying, teasing, harassing, cyberbullying, suicide, depression, emotional scarring and death. There is only one side and it is the side of educating our communities, schools, teachers, parents and students about all sides of bullying.  Whether your child is the bully or being bullied – education is the key to prevention.  Teach tolerance. Teach acceptance.  Teach kindness.

In St. Johns County parents can visit PACT Prevention Coalition for local resources. (Prevention, Advocacy, Choices, Teamwork).

Be an educated parent, you will have safer teens.

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Sue Scheff: Mean Girls Attack Virtually

As many are learning, cyber sticks and stones can hurt your bones deeply and scar emotionally.  As reported on The Today Show with Matt Lauer, renown author and educator Rachel Simmons discusses the need for parents and schools to establish anti-bullying policies.

Although there may be times when authorities, such as law enforcement need to intervene, as in the Phoebe Prince case, the main directive should be from both parents and the schools.  Education is key to prevention.  Be part of the solution and be proactive in speaking out and fighting against bullies and cyberbullies.

In Florida, 5th grader Dalton Reynolds with the help of her mother, who is a teacher, took the initiative and formed an Anti-Bullying Club in their school.  If an elementary student can do this, why can’t teenagers? 

A teenager’s social life is one of the most important things to a teen.  When ugly gossip arises about them, the emotional roller coaster can be damaging not only to their self esteem but to their mental well-being.  As we witnessed in the recent tragedy of Phoebe Prince, the constant stream of ridicule, teasing and harassment allegedly drove her to her death.

Today we are hearing about Facebook groups surfacing that are targeted at insulting, hurting, harming and literally destroying lives of teens emotionally.  Teens are waking up to find themselves on a “naughty list” or even a “wannabe who-e list“.  Thankfully Facebook is taking steps to remove these ugly pages and monitoring new groups as they form. 

Help be part of the solution.  Start an Anti-Bullying Club in your school.  Every voice counts.

Be an educated parent, you will have safer teens.

Watch video  for more insights on how teens are fighting back.  Read more.

Sue Scheff: Parenting Teens Internet Safety

cybersafety_logoOne of today’s largest challenges for parents keeping up with their kids technology.  Whether you have  teen that is wandering through areas of the web they shouldn’t be, or kids that are landing in chatrooms that are extremely risky, as a parent you need to be ten steps ahead of them.

Here are some great articles, tips, resources and more to help you be informed about parenting in the digital age.

Chatroom Safety Tips

Cyber Safety Awareness

Social Web Tips for Teens

Social Web Tips for Parents

Cell Phone Safety Tips

Teen Internet Addiction

Internet Predators

Maintaining Your Online Image

Yoursphere Safety

Mothers Against Predators

Internet Safety and Guidance Counselors

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Sue Scheff: School Violence and Bully Must STOP

MichaelBrewerLast week in Florida is another tragedy involving teens and school violence. BULLYING is a major issue and needs to be taken seriously. The recent incident in Deerfield Beach of the young boy that was bullied and burned by his classmates is nothing short of despicable. It was only a month ago we were all brought to tears by the death of the teen in a Coral Gables stabbing at school.

As a Parent Advocate, I cannot express enough that parents need to be educated on bullying and how dangerous this behavior is.

What happened to 15 year old Michael Brewer should be a wake-up call to all parents, educators, and everyone that works with children today. Do we really need these wake-up calls? We read about these horrific acts almost daily with kids, whether it is in Chicago or South Florida, these stories are in the news.

Help STOP BULLYING today! Be an educated parent, you will have a safer teen.

What is bullying?

Bullying is an aggressive behavior that is intentional and malicious. Bullying can be physical contact as well as verbal abuse. Many have heard the adage “Sticks and stone can break your bones, but word can never hurt.” That has been proven a wrong statement over and over, as words can devastate a young child and scar them emotionally for a long time.

To learn more about bullying visit the following websites and take the time to become familiar with the warning signs, tips, articles, as well as how you can be proactive in your community.

Stop Bullying Now – All about bullying, prevention, intervention and more. Take a stand, lend a hand.

STOMP OUT BULLYING – What you can do. PSA’s and more, take the pledge to stop bullying today.

Kids Health Today – Educational articles, tips and more about bullying and your children.

Love Our Children USA – Report bullying, child abuse and neglect; learn how to protect children today.

Education.com Bullying Series – Everything you need to know about bullying and more.

Isn’t it time we, as a community, we work together to put an end to bullying and school violence? Let it start at home, talk to your kids about these serious issues. Communication is the pathway to understanding the problem and working together to stop it!

For more info: Miami Herald, Associated Press, NBC Miami, LA Times, National Youth Violence Prevention Resource Center, Parents Universal Resource Experts

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