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RedLight

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PostSubject: How can we help?   Tue Nov 15, 2011 1:53 pm

I'm at work, as I often am.
A news story just ran about a 10 year old girl that killed herself to escape relentless bullying at school.
My boss looks at me and says: "We need to do something about this, as an organised group."
And she is dead serious.

I was subject to brutal bullying as a child. It's a subject that hits a very deep nerve with me.
While I feel that has shaped me into the kind of person that would never mistreat someone unjustly,
and may be the root of my need to become a part of this community, not everyone is built like me.

So what can we do, out of costume, to make a difference?
The school districts here have a "No Bullying" rule in place, but it tends to be ill-enforced,
and is often used to target special needs students. Several students have been singled out as trouble-makers,
when they are often the ones being picked on. The kids here have gotten wise to the standard of practice.
They manipulate it accordingly. The bully's now operate differently here. Instead of typical behaviour, such as name-calling and physical assaults, they simply go to the administration and accuse the target of unacceptable behaviour.

One student, for example, has been placed on a watch list since elementary school because a handful of kids that did not like him told the teachers that he had made a "hit list" with all of their names on it. This was false. Regardless, that incident has been placed on his permanent record, despite the administration insisting it would not be seen by his junior high and high school faculty.
He has been labeled a problem child. He is now 16, and every time another student picks on him, he is the one brought into the Principal's office. He is the one pulled out of class. He is the one getting suspended and missing tests.
There is never any mention of the physical injuries he has sustained at the hands of other kids.
He is treated like a criminal.

The system is horribly flawed, and I feel like going through the schools will not be a productive way to do anything about this. I want to start tackling this issue at the heart of it. I want to look out for these kids. The people who should be doing that are not. The school system is consumed with meeting test score standards, not addressing issues among the students. They "do not have time" to provide any sort of assistance, counseling, or education on this matter.

So what can we do?


Last edited by RedLight on Tue Nov 15, 2011 4:58 pm; edited 1 time in total
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The Jinn

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PostSubject: Re: How can we help?   Tue Nov 15, 2011 2:20 pm

That's a really tough one because the root of the problem is bad parents at home teaching their kids that it's okay to bully other kids. I taught my daughters to never take crap off the other kids. I told them, if a kid makes a nasty comment to you, pick out a flaw about them that they can't change and mock it in front of the other kids. Turn the crowd against them. If they put their hands on you, drop them like a bad habit and if anyone has anything to say about it they can say it to me. Harsh retaliation is the only thing a douchebag understands. I've also told them to form tight cliques and go after their opponents as a group. This business of telling kids not to fight back against bullies that they're pushing is nonsense.
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RedLight

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PostSubject: Re: How can we help?   Tue Nov 15, 2011 3:03 pm

My problem growing up was that I didn't have any other kids on my side.
My third grade teacher was the only one who ever stepped in and did anything, but all she could do was give me a safe haven at recess. I spent playtime in her classroom, fishing through her books and drawing. It was the only relief I had from the rest of the day.
But it didn't make it go away.
School was a warzone for me.

I'd like to find a way to keep other kids from going through that, since it still affects me.
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The Jinn

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PostSubject: Re: How can we help?   Tue Nov 15, 2011 3:17 pm

I think that the schools are taking it more seriously than they did when we are younger. They're getting the kids at an early age and preaching against it to them. That helps, but it doesn't involve the crappy parent part of it. Maybe they should hold those bad parents legally responsible for what their idiot kid does. If he beats a kid up, they go to jail for assault. That would be a start.
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Amazonia

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PostSubject: Re: How can we help?   Tue Nov 15, 2011 3:24 pm

Wish I could give an answer on this. I was both bullied all through elementary and middle school and I turned into the bully in my high school career. I can tell you that when one of the kids fought back against me, there were five others at my side to fight back with me. Standing up to a bully may not always work, especially if they belong to a gang or a group of friends that will stand with them. I feel for anyone who is bullied and wish I could stand with them and take the bullying myself. To spare them what I went through and what I dished out.

Somehow you've got to get to the kids and show them what they are doing is hurting the other. Telling them won't work, but showing them in someway that will shock them, that can work to change their behavior. Like Maury use to do on his show with troubled kids who use to beat on their parents and had social problems. Maybe some kind of intervention like that could work. Just not sure how to stage it so it would work.
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RedLight

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PostSubject: Re: How can we help?   Tue Nov 15, 2011 3:31 pm

The "Boys will be boys" mentality is often the reason for so-called adults dismissing these issues before they become ongoing problems. Some schools are taking it seriously, but most are not given the resources or manpower to do anything effective. Unfortunately, it takes a backseat to test preparations, due to the restrictions of NCLB.

If we do end up speaking to kids about this, I would want to have specialised programs based on age of the children. It would have to be appropriate for the maturity level to be effective.
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RedLight

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PostSubject: Re: How can we help?   Tue Nov 15, 2011 4:32 pm

Here's a couple of articles on the little girl.

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Max



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PostSubject: Re: How can we help?   Tue Nov 15, 2011 5:25 pm

Quote :
Somehow you've got to get to the kids and show them what they are doing is hurting the other.

Unfortunately, I don't think that will help much. Some kids like pulling the wings off of helpless insects. Some kids like seeing fear in another kid's eyes.

I basically did with my kids like Jinn did with his. Teach them how to resolve the issue smart. Don't start the fight; finish it. And if you find that you get in trouble for that, play it smart and catch the bully when no one's looking. Telling someone it's not nice to bully won't stop the bully; they'll just enjoy it MORE.

You have to teach the bully it's not worth his/her effort to bully you. And that means fighting back one way or another.

Way I see it, bullies don't care about other people's welfare, but they DO emphatically care about their own. They are tremendously self-involved. You have to teach them that it benefits them to care about others' welfare. Which must sometimes start with punching them when nobody's looking, so that they see that they must let somebody else be so that they can be left alone.

Did that once, myself. Punched a bully when nobody else was looking. Ever after, he treated me with respect, and we even got along well after awhile.

I guess that's what I'm saying in a roundabout fashion. The bully must be taught, frequently the hard way, that respecting other people pays personally.
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RedLight

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PostSubject: Re: How can we help?   Tue Nov 15, 2011 5:48 pm

Amazonia wrote:

Somehow you've got to get to the kids and show them what they are doing is hurting the other. Telling them won't work, but showing them in someway that will shock them, that can work to change their behavior. Like Maury use to do on his show with troubled kids who use to beat on their parents and had social problems. Maybe some kind of intervention like that could work. Just not sure how to stage it so it would work.

I know what I would do, but I would never be allowed to do it. Not in this day and age.

When I was in grade school, and our history teacher decided to teach us about WWII, he decided the best way to do this would be to show us (in a kinder, gentler way) what it was like to be there. He separated a third of the class. They were given yellow arm bands. The rest of the class was given white arm bands. For one week, white bands were prohibited from socialising with yellows. Yellows were to sit in a small section in the back of the classroom and share desks. They were not permitted to speak during class. White bands were given permission to pass notes and talk to each other as they pleased, so long as they followed all instructions given to them. Often, they were instructed to bring yellows out into the hall that did not comply. They were rewarded for enforcing the rules with little toys. Yo-yo's and silly putty. That sort of thing. By Wednesday, the white bands were carrying out these instructions on their own without being asked. The yellows had stopped stepping out of line.

By Friday, many of those same white bands were in tears. It was no longer funny to not be able to talk to their friends. It was no longer amusing to be the bad guy. The yellows had grown angry with their mistreatment. It was a reality to them now, not just a game. These gestures may seem extreme, or trivial, depending on your personal beliefs. But, to a bunch of kids, it was a lesson in humility.

What I would do with the three little girls that targeted Ashlynn Conner (if such a thing were in my power), is make them understand what it feels like first hand. I feel that allowing them to be bullied by other kids would be counter-productive to the other students. But, in the interest of them understanding the gravity of their actions toward others, I would issue them grey t-shirts to wear until December 2nd (Ashlynn's Birthday). Until the end of that day, those children would be "dead." The other students would not be allowed to pick on them, unless they chose to join them. They would be prohibited from participating in daily activities (during class hours), but be permitted to silently observe the class.

It may sound cruel, but it could be the shock needed to teach them how serious this is.
The Thanksgiving break in between would provide enough downtime for this to not be too overwhelming for kids so young.
Maybe too much downtime.

I come from a different generation.
Lessons were issued differently.
No "time-outs."
No "corrective action forms."
We were punished when we screwed up.
When you got grounded, you got grounded.
No tv. No friends. No going outside. Complete isolation.
Punishments beyond that were creative and usually just.
But we learned. Often the first time.
Children will not care about getting in trouble if there are no real consequences.

Which brings me to Max's point.
He's absolutely right, but only because kids are often forced to deal with this themselves.
But there are kids that do not fight back.
They internalise it. Eventually, they start to believe it. The damage done is never fully reversable.
That much I know first hand. I didn't learn to fight until high school, when I had finally had enough.
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Max



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PostSubject: Re: How can we help?   Tue Nov 15, 2011 6:02 pm

Quote :
But there are kids that do not fight back.
They internalise it. Eventually, they start to believe it. The damage done is never fully reversable.


You're right, Red, no question. I apologize for overlooking that. So what would need to be done then would be not about teaching the bullies they're wrong, but rather about teaching the bullIED how to fight back, and give them a reason to believe they can. Yes?
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RedLight

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PostSubject: Re: How can we help?   Tue Nov 15, 2011 6:09 pm

Ahhh, but how do we do that without seeming like we're condoning violence?
Society likes it's sugar coating.
It doesn't like when you point out the crap inside.
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DRock

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PostSubject: Re: How can we help?   Tue Nov 15, 2011 6:43 pm

I hear you, Red. I've been there.

Damnest thing. My parents were the old school. So my dad's advice was to kick the bully's ass. Win or lose, you had to show that it wasn't worth it.

But here's the thing. I was the weakling and runt back then, and you NEEDED to win against big, tough redneck kids. Not even a draw will do. You had to whup their asses back to the stone age. And the stereotype that bullies will cave at the first sign of resistance? Bullshit. Why? Because you when you stand up to them, you not only wound their pride, but put their position in the social totem pole in question. They have to re-establish that dominance, and the only way to do it is to crush the insolence out of the person who threatens it. So if anything, they have more to lose than the bullied, so they fight that much harder.

Then there was the fact that even though my parents were old school, my school wasn't. Even if they heard about fighting outside the school, they'd take corrective action. And everyone in the fight would be punished. The schools don't have the patience or the time to sort out who did what and who's at fault. Instead, they had to do blanket punishments.

So I didn't pick fights at a risk of getting detention or even suspended. My bullies knew this. They would name call. That was easier to do and honestly, I would have rather taken the fist. I might jab an insult or two, but it's a matter of who's the loudest, not the wittiest, that never worked.

Tell a teacher? What could they do? If I was caught talking to a teacher about it, I'd have to put up with being labeled a teacher's pet or a rat, and get it even worse (that's happened). The teachers also couldn't do crap all about it. Teachers are surprisingly powerless. The only thing they can do is, unless catching someone in the act, is to tell the bullies not to do it. That never works. But what if I tried to get the bullies caught in the act? Again, rat.

I think the only concerted effort at bully awareness at that time was the occasional health class or video that tried to teach us about hurting other's feelings and how it wasn't nice. It was so gutless. Kids don't care about other kid's self confidence. They only care about their own! It was an excuse to have a lazy class and not do any real work, and the lessons flew over their heads.

And if I tried to kick their asses from the constant years of verbal and mental abuse? Well, see my previous paragraph about fighting.

Fact is, I felt trapped. My parents solution would have had me suspended or thrown in juvi, on top of having myself get outmatched in a fight and accomplishing absolutely nothing. Teachers couldn't do anything. I couldn't do anything that would matter. So I just took it.

In retrospect, I should have fought back. And I mean hard. And I also mean even if I had to cheat and fight dirty. Even if I had to walk home with cracked ribs and bruises all over my face. I should have even risked being kicked out of school. Being constantly harassed is no way for a person to live.

As for what should be done about bullies. Yeah... I'd like to find a way to deal with them in some way. With bullies, there's a detachment between their actions and the consequences to others. They lack empathy. In fact, I think most kids do, run on pure id. You can't show them that it hurts others, in fact you have to show them that it hurts THEM even worse.

That's why I believe that every teen or child that bullied a kid to suicide should be accountable and charged with manslaughter. They may not have understood it, but they killed those kids and should be accountable.
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DRock

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PostSubject: Re: How can we help?   Tue Nov 15, 2011 6:53 pm

Oh right... what can be done to help?

1). Toughen the kid mentally and physically. For me, I was afraid of getting badly hurt in a fight or humiliated in one (both happened). It's not enough to make sure that words can never hurt you, but the kid has to not be afraid of receiving a bloody lip either. No... it doesn't mean hurt the kid until they're immune to pain. Just let them know that they can handle it, even though it doesn't feel good.

2). Teach them that it's ok to fight back. It's contrary to popular and modern practice. Bullies know this. They use it to their advantage, pushing just enough to not violate those rules (and outright violating them when people are not looking). What they won't anticipate is if the bullied kid has the will to fight back and defy what is our societal teaching.

3). Teach them to accept the consequences of their actions. For the bullies, it's that being a bully will get you hurt or worse. For the bullied, it's that it's worthwhile to put up with whatever punishment your school/parents will put you through in order to make the bullying stop. Suspension or detention? Bring it. I'd rather a few days out of school than a decade of being terrorized in it.
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Flora V. Arbor

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PostSubject: Re: How can we help?   Wed Nov 16, 2011 2:08 am

There is, finally, a national focus on bullying.

As a girl, I was never told to fight back.
I kept trying to figure what was wrong with me.
sigh

Bullies are born of bullies.
So, how do we impact parents?
I dunno either.

t-shirt with words on them are amazingly effective
as are websites and facebook sharing
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Zimmer

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PostSubject: Re: How can we help?   Wed Nov 16, 2011 2:14 am

I got asked this in an interview after the HBO documentary hit. After re-reading it, I wince at the lack of political correctness, but it's essentially what has been discussed here:

How would you feel about a gay teen who takes on school bullies and gay bashers a la Kick-Ass instead of just the pacifistic ‘It Gets Better’ approach?

While everyone’s situation is different, I strongly recommend to anyone who might be a victim of violence to have a strong education in self-defense. I’ve broken up dozens of fights and defended myself from blows without ever having to throw a punch—so far, anyways. But that doesn’t mean I don’t practice. Speak respectfully and pack a knockout punch.


I like 'It Gets Better' a lot, and I'm glad we've made videos, but there needs to be serious Bully Survival Training available.
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RedLight

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PostSubject: Re: How can we help?   Wed Nov 16, 2011 6:34 am

We're discussing getting the LGBT folks in on this, since they have been very active in this for some time. My boss discussed this with her daughter last night, who is 14. She stood up in front of her church group and opened up this can of worms to everyone who would listen. We are not backing down on this. This young girl had people in tears last night. It makes me wonder if maybe the best way to create change, and really get through to kids and adults alike, is to have a team of young people be our voices. Kids listen to other kids. Adults find them endearing, and the media will eat it up. If we can construct a program that really makes this issue a reality for children, and have kids that are a little older administer it, it could really be effective.
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Paladin



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PostSubject: Re: How can we help?   Wed Nov 16, 2011 11:03 am

The problem we, or anyone else doing this, will run into is that reaching kids means making the content accessible and "cool". For this, your idea of having the older kids administer it is fantastic.

We can help too. Kids in the 5-8 range still think that a guy (or gal) in a GOOD supersuit is pretty freaking cool.

As for making the content accessible, it might be something to collaborate on with some education experts, child psychologists, etc.

If we could get our hands on some folks like that, and work with them to make an open source curriculum for anti-bullying education, that'd be a huge step. THAT's exactly the kind of thing the super-suits are good for... drawing attention to issues/serving to inspire.

Once we had the curriculum, we could trot out the materials to anyone who wanted it- educators, parents, churches, other rlsh's, etc.

The key here would be open source. Make this a tool for everyone who needs it.

Reaching the older kids will be harder though. They can be pretty jaded. Another round of "sensitivity training" will seem pretty freaking lame to a kid dealing with a culture of sex, drugs, violence, etc.- and if we're delivering this content to kids like that in a supersuit? You better hope your gimmick is cinematic-grade, or you're gonna look like a clown up there. A shitty suit won't inspire anybody.

I think that we can definitely use our images to inspire, but we have to be selective about how, and if we're gonna be "embassadors" for an issue, then we have to look the part. Ask any cop, soldier or security professional how important dress/deportment is.

In fact- think about it. (the following example is drawn from my professional life) When you deal with a security guard, his appearance and demeanor are HUGE in terms of how you react to him. If he looks fat, out of shape, sloppy, awkward, etc., then the odds that you're going to respect/listen to what he has to say are slim to none. If he's clean, confident, well-attired and well-equipped, people will generally react differently.

I have been able to, in a good suit and with a few carefully chosen words and the strength of my demeanour alone, been able to diffuse very large crowds that were just a few seconds before had been ready to tear several of my employees apart.

Anyways, I'm rambling... to sum up:

Good, open-source, professionally developed content,
Delivered by well-kitted RLSHs and willing older kids to receptive younger ones.

I think this would be fantastic.



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Max



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PostSubject: Re: How can we help?   Wed Nov 16, 2011 1:24 pm

All excellent points, Paladin.

And as far as the message to deliver, perhaps one that does not condone violence as much emphasizes constructive resistance. We all know that the two extremes usually presented are the Neville Chamberlain or the Rambo. Peace at any cost or scorched earth. And we all know that there has to be a third choice.
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Flora V. Arbor

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PostSubject: Re: How can we help?   Wed Nov 16, 2011 3:29 pm

RedLight wrote:
We're discussing getting the LGBT folks in on this, since they have been very active in this for some time. My boss discussed this with her daughter last night, who is 14. She stood up in front of her church group and opened up this can of worms to everyone who would listen. We are not backing down on this. This young girl had people in tears last night. It makes me wonder if maybe the best way to create change, and really get through to kids and adults alike, is to have a team of young people be our voices. Kids listen to other kids. Adults find them endearing, and the media will eat it up. If we can construct a program that really makes this issue a reality for children, and have kids that are a little older administer it, it could really be effective.

This is great thinking as is Paladin's post.

This is REALLY needed.
What about PSA's on telly with young people talking?

There are some but there are just boys.
It would be good to do one with girls
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DRock

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PostSubject: Re: How can we help?   Wed Nov 16, 2011 3:40 pm

Getting older kids involved in helping others might help, to develop their empathy.

Maybe get a class to join in on a handout, or an urban renewal project.



Hell, I'm passionate about the topic of bullying, but I'm really grasping at straws for actual solutions. What I said yesterday seemed like an OK idea when I was heated up by the subject, but once cooled down I can't help but think that I was just as irrational and hateful as the bullies I remember.

And I know what kind of hate that can lead to.

"What'cha gonna do? Shoot the school?"

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Flora V. Arbor

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PostSubject: Re: How can we help?   Wed Nov 16, 2011 3:44 pm

filming every thing is a great way to document what is happening

Mnay kids have phones with cameras.

I use this technique when driving.

It is amazing to see how many people KNOW that they are being assholes
as soon as the camera comes up.

Behavior changes on a dime
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Shade Gargoyle

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PostSubject: Re: How can we help?   Wed Nov 16, 2011 4:07 pm

This is actually an interesting discussion... As someone who was the victim of bullying for my entire educational career, up until I moved halfway across the city to attend high school, I know how difficult it can be to be bullied.

The difficulty in addressing this, however, appears to be the fact that bullies are immature by nature - as it has been stated already, they are almost entirely self-concerned, paying no attention to the pain they inflict upon others, or, indeed, thriving upon it... To an extent, this lack of concern for others is present in all children, simply by virtue of the fact that they have often not developed a sense of even self-awareness, let alone awareness of others until a much later age.
I agree that the best way to prevent bullying would be to do what we can to show bullies the personal benefits of empathy and kindness... To phrase it in a way that they can understand.

With that said, however, an interesting thought now occurs to me (Though I doubt it will be a popular one). Question, for a moment should work to prevent bullying? I understand that, given the context of the thread, and this young girl's tragic suicide, this will likely appear heartless, but hear me out.
Since all children are born with a degree of selfishness - simply due to the fact that they are immature, and have yet to cultivate a sense of self, let alone others - bullying is impossible to prevent completely. What is more, bullying, cruel as it undoubtedly is, can serve as valuable life experience for a child, depending on how insightful they are: it would likely be their first encounter with significant conflict, and would help them develop different strategies with regards to how conflict may be addressed and resolved, as well as how to defend themselves. It may also help them to understand the psychology of bullies, and, by extent, aggressors and criminals later in life. It may also help to strengthen their own sense of empathy... Not to mention the fact that schoolyard issues echo in many levels of our society: are there not those in later walks of life who continue to place themselves and their own desires above that of others?

I am by no means attempting to argue that bullying is not hurtful, or damaging, I am simply saying that, like any traumatic experience or hardship, it offers equal opportunity for the individuals subjected to it to grow from it. Good things can arise from suffering, as I believe many of you know. Should we shelter our children from this, simply because it is immediately painful? I'm not saying we should deliberately plunge our children into a Spartan agoge of violence, or that we should never attempt to intervene, but this sort of experience for a child really is quite valuable... And, as awful as schoolyard bullies can be, it's rare for a child to receive serious physical injuries, or die as a result.

Frankly, what I find most disturbing with in this situation is the fact that a 10 year-old girl even contemplated suicide as an option. Perhaps I was too sheltered, but I was never even aware people committed suicide until my early teenage years...
For all my talk of exposing children to the "harsh realities of life", I think suicide is something they can stand to be innocent of.
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Max



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PostSubject: Re: How can we help?   Wed Nov 16, 2011 4:42 pm

These are also some interesting points.

Teaching a child that it's best to depend on others for courage is a dangerous path to start on. Self-reliance is an important virtue. And if I hadn't been in a position where I had to learn it, I would never have become the man I am, nor have raised the two fine sons I have. And I don't think any of US, of all people, would sneer at self-reliance. So there's that.

Perhaps teaching the child appropriate self-worth is the factor, then. With such, suicide is not an option.
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Shade Gargoyle

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PostSubject: Re: How can we help?   Wed Nov 16, 2011 4:46 pm

To tell the truth, I think all that would be necessary to prevent children from committing suicide would be a tad more discretion on the part of the parents - because children are naturally more self-focused, the notion of doing something as dramatic as ending their own life is unlikely to occur to them without outside influence, based on my experience. To run away from the issue in a more literal sense (Refusing to attend school, or staying inside during recess, for example) seems more like the action a child would take.

I feel I should also apologize to an extent for what I said in my previous post: while I do stand behind its core points, I cannot help but feel that my expressing them in this context was inappropriate, and rather harsh.
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Idea Man

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PostSubject: Re: How can we help?   Wed Nov 16, 2011 5:33 pm

Some schools reduce bullying by simply reducing the amount of time that kids spend in the halls. If they only have two minutes to get from one class to the next, there is not much time for bullying one another. I think that practical solutions along those lines will be more effective than trying to change the personalities of the bullies or the victims.


Also, kids need to know that it is okay to come to the parents and say "I do not want to go to school anymore because I am being bullied." Even if you do not think that running away from the problem is a good solution, it is certainly better than having a child commit suicide because she felt there was no other way out of the situation. If she had known that her parents would let her stay home, she probably would not have done it. Then once she was out of school for a little while, the parents could have worked with her an another longer-term solution to the issue.
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