Friday, December 31, 2010

WASH Helps a Fellow Writer

I wanted to write something about the New Year and New Year's resolutions today, but I'm appealing to you for help instead.

What happened?

A dear fellow writer was diagnosed with leukemia yesterday. That means she won't be able to work for quite some time and needs expensive treatment.

This cancer is bullying her!

She is an amazing woman and writer, a loving mother of a young son, and a beloved wife.

Step up against bullying now and help her focus on beating cancer while we take care of her financial needs! If many of us only donate a dollar or two or take the time to read some of her articles so that she gets revenue, it will sum up to help her and her family through this hard time.

Please take a moment to read through these sites:

Rissa's Battle

Rissa's Contributor Profile

If you feel you could need a song which inspires hope now, feel free to listen to (and share) my

Ray of Hope for Rissa

Last but not least, I wish you all a happy New Year and hope that it will bring health, hope and happiness to all of you!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Healing The Heart Of A Bully

When someone hurts us, the natural reaction is to want the offending person to hurt as much as we do, to take vengeance, to make their life impossible. If we do that though, we are then becoming bullies ourselves, are we not? In most places, there is a system that is used to exact retribution. Even still, if we even THINK of doing that nasty thing back to the bully who committed whatever type of wrong it was, we've already done harm because the heart of bullying even as an act of revenge towards a bully means that we have already harmed that person in our thoughts which is just as bad because it breeds anger.

Bullies do what they do because they are hurting and have not learned the proper coping methods and techniques to talk about what it is that hurts so much. Once a bully enters the system, and the system starts to act on the incident, we must ensure that retribution is just a portion of the actions taken because there also has to be therapy and healing for the offending person.

We live in the age of victim's rights which is all good as far as the intent goes, but in reality, it gets applied quite unevenly and leaves our society in a vicious cycle of making life so tough for someone who has bullied that we are the ones creating a great risk of re-offense when we do not have anything to give the offending person as an incentive to live the right way from here on out.

Community resources, social work, education about harmful behavior and it's impact on others are just a small list of things that can help someone who has bullied to have a chance at healing and processing their own wayward behavior. To reach out to the heart of a bully is to break the cycle of intensifying negative behaviors as a national trend. Tough love can be an answer only when it is mixed with a chance to allow the offending person to have equal access to a system of organized and sensible rehabilitation that allows for the offending person to both see through the victim's eyes and look into themselves as someone who has potential for becoming new again, for re-inventing themselves in such a way that they no longer see bullying as an option but they would rather find appropriate ways to communicate.

Bullying has different causes at each developmental cycle and age. In the younger kids, it's mostly a mechanism for attempting to "fit in" where in the older kids, the causes become more numerous and complicated. When a bully reaches adulthood, the bullying behaviors either become more serious, the behavior more at a juvenile level, or they "burn out" and stuff their anger because they have no one to communicate to due to the numerous consequences they have likely suffered already.

Stuffing of anger isn't a good thing for anyone, especially someone with a propensity to bully. Standing up to a bully can be done appropriately in such a way as the potential victim can decide to see the threat as simply someone seeking attention and choosing to see through the tough guy / tough girl act and reach out by taking the first step..."I don't feel threatened by you although you want me to, I don't." and then follow up by asking "Why do you feel so intense that you think killing someone's spirit is the answer?"

This author has learned to practice this well in his personal life and professional career. If the offending person won't talk, then, leave the door open for building trust in the relationship honestly by simply saying "You don't have to talk now, but if ever you do, my door is open for you if you can act in a way that is civil."

It takes more than this with more disturbed individuals, but with someone who is displaying obvious behavior that uses mere words as opposed to actions, it works fine most times. No one should take on a bully alone and try to act as mediator in each instance if the behavior seems escalating towards more extremes. People displaying the extremes of bullying in regards to escalation of behavior can best be dealt with by a clinical professional who can use their years of training to help reach into the heart of the bully and turn them around.

The old saying "Kill em' with kindness" has a universal truth to it and can be practiced each day in our lives in some way if only we look for those ways and really tune in to ourselves watchfully and as time passes, we can get better at it. Many times, this author has used "kill em' with kindness" methods and techniques with complete success each time, although the fruits weren't always seen immediately. One person in particular wrote to this author after more than a year or two and apologized because I acted with kindness and understanding towards the offending person who felt guilty all that time to such high levels that they felt compelled to write in order to clear their soul.

One real situation other than this had to do with an enraged airline passenger that arrived at the airport too late for their flight and took it out on everyone! Passenger went to the ticket counter only to be told that they could not hold the flight, passenger swore at the ticket agent with extreme vehemency, went through security and threw their belongings at airport security workers, then continued down the concourse using one threatening and foul diatribe after another before meeting this author.

The passenger escalated horribly at that moment and said things I cannot repeat here. I was already well informed as to the passenger's plight and allowed the passenger to get it all out before attempting to speak. Passenger now done with foul temper display, I said "I'm sorry to see you've had such a rough experience, and I see why you're upset. I can help you to your gate if you wish, and then I can help you try to find a flight this evening." We arrive at the gate, at which time I viewed the passenger's itinerary, and spoke with a near - by gate agent.

Passenger was on the next flight out an hour after that. As I saw this passenger to their flight, my last words were "I'm glad to have served you well and am happy to see how things turned out for you." The passenger asked "why did you treat me so well when I acted so horribly?" to which I replied, "Because I understand and I know how frustrating flying can be when nothing goes right."

Passenger boarded the aircraft with a smile. Problem solved! This passenger's act was one of bullying because the passenger actually said and did some really hurtful things that made one employee want to quit right then and there. All it took was one person to reach into that passenger's heart to effect change and change the overall affect at both ends of the spectrum of the problem.

Margaret Becker wrote a song back in the 80s called "Never For Nothing" which can be used here as an example in a small quoted snippet from this song "It's never for nothing when you love with no return, it's never for nothing. You light your candle in the darkness because it's never for nothing."

No person is ever so tall as when they reach into the heart of another to help out when the time comes around, even if the reaction is at first a bit bitter. 

Friday, December 17, 2010

Racism as Extreme Form of Bullying

by Saoirse O'Mara

As a German, I have been confronted with the issue of racism very early in my life and then several times at school. German history is nothing to be proud of, for sure. It teaches us one very important lesson, however.

Racism has to be stopped before it is too late!

You might wonder what racism has to do with bullying. I'll tell you. Everything! You see, racism is probably the most extreme form of bullying. People are bashed for no other reason than their origin, their religion or their looks. It exists in every way "normal" bullying exists: name-calling, pushing around, ignoring, threatening, beating someone up.

The only difference is that racists are far harder to stop than bullies. They bully out of a deeper belief instead of out of fun. Therefore, they are prepared to take greater risks and to be punished for what they do.

If you notice any racist tendencies in children or teenagers in your environment, act at once. Try to talk to them. Ask them why they think the way they do about others. You might still have a chance to show them tolerance is a better way if they aren't too deep into the racist thinking yet. Many children and teenagers just try to find a group to which they can belong; and without guidance, they might easily end up with the wrong group.

Even more important, be tolerant yourself! Children learn from the adults around them. Check yourself: Do you have any prejudices against any group of people? If so, why do you have these prejudices? Do you show them in front of children?

You can do a great deal towards making your children to be bullies or to teaching them tolerance.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Extending A Helping Hand For A Fellow Writer

Laurie Meekis, a fellow writer, is in the hospital having major surgery. This news comes to us from the Writerish Blog. Surgery means that Laurie will not be able to make an income through the craft she loves so much until she is recovered. WASH is joining the effort to help Laurie to have what we know as a residual income by asking as many of you as will possibly take a few moments to click on her work at the Yahoo! Contributor Network.

A content writer makes their income honestly and survives from up-front payments each time they publish as well as page views and performance bonuses. Clicking on her work means that Laurie gets paid and that her income continues to stream in. Unfortunately, freelance writers do not get corporate health benefits and must rely on being able to pay for private insurance.

WASH wishes Laurie a fast recovery that is free from complications and that she has all the support she can get in this time. Get well soon, Laurie!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Turbans On The Hill - Assumptions As Bullying

A peaceful group of local muslim believers in Sidney, New York recently faced bullying at the hands of their local Board of Supervisors for the town of Sidney, New York over the right to bury their dearly departed. The muslim group did all of their paperwork and obtained the proper burial permits, yet, the Sidney Board of Supervisors initiated action against the group saying "You can't just bury grandma on a hill".

Residents of Sidney, New York who rallied from all walks of life took up the cause of this group even though some of them were not familiar with muslim practices out of their belief that the group was being bullied by the local government, and they were right.

Yahoo News has the story

Although the Board Of Supervisors quickly backed off of their aggressive stance, the people of America and hopefully, the people of the world around us have learned a great lesson: bullying can happen when we make false assumptions about others out of fear rather than solid knowledge.

Assumptions become bullying when we react because someone or something that a person does, says, or believes is different than what we commonly hold close to us...whatever that value might be. Sure, we can be offended at someone because of their affiliation with another person or group of people, but why? Hasn't every person or group of people at some time done something wrong? If we use that logic and decide to evaluate ourselves, we will see what hypocrites we are because if we hold to those types of false logics, then we would have to disown all of our friends, all of our families, and all of our fellow citizens of the world because everyone and every group of people have some sort of horrible pasts.

When we make assumptions without knowing all of the intimate details instead of what we know for sure, we propagate paranoia without any real need to do it. It is a well known fact that we need to take the plank out of our own eye before trying to help someone else take the speck out of their eye.

A well known writer reminded all of us recently that we do not have to accept the gift of abuse. This is an old Buddhist proverb that asks the proper question of: If someone is giving you a gift and you refuse to take that gift, who is the rightful owner? Bullying  is a situation that requires us to do one of two things: personalize the gift and make it ours, or decline to accept and make it the problem of the gift giver.

In the end, while we may not all get along all of the time, we CAN accept each other for who we are, what makes us the person we are, and live in the peace that we can support each other because the next person that someone in some position of social, political, or other power picks on could be YOU! It could be your Mother, Father, Brother, Sister, Cousin, Aunt, Uncle, Grandparent, Girlfriend, Boyfriend, Husband, Wife, Child, etc.

We do not have the right, nor do we have the privilege to denounce what someone decides is right for them. We cannot even attempt to take that power from a person, for if we do, where does it end? Where would we draw the line? What dangerous territory we would find ourselves in!

A person can have an opinion, but watch where you point that thing because it is just solely an opinion! Opinions and facts get separated from each other for good reason. One of those reasons is to prevent bullying! To kick off this week and to help make for a great Christmas, this publication would like to encourage our readers to go visit different places of faith and different parts of your local community in order to see for yourself the very close bonds that acceptance of each other at the human level can create!

Visit a Muslim mosque, visit a Buddhist place of faith, visit with someone who is a part of the GLBT community, visit someone who is Jewish, visit someone who is Mormon, Catholic, Protestant, Agnostic, just visit! Taste the different foods and cultures of your community, take some time to hear their stories and have a glimpse into their personalities.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Preventing Bullying at School

Teachers can do a great deal to prevent bullying at school. First of all, they can help to build up a good community among the students. A good community is the most important factor to prevent bullying as the students are one group instead of many small groups. I've seen this happen back at school. My class was the only one without a good community, and we were the only ones with bullying.

Of course, as a teacher, you can't always manage to prevent bullying at all, but even if you think you are helpless, you are not. There are so many ways to strengthen your class's cooperation and community as well as each individual. Here are only a few tips:

Help your students to discover and develop their personal strengths.

Promote cooperation instead of rivalry, e.g. by doing teamwork exercises.

Offer class activities outside the normal school activities, e.g. visit a museum together.

You know your class best. Think of activities which could be fun for all of your students. Why not try to play a short theatre play for the parents? It could easily be integrated into English classes, is fun (for most students at least; consider your individuals) and promotes cooperation.

When you try to use these strategies from the beginning instead of waiting for first signs of bullying, you may be able to prevent bullying completely in your class. And honestly, this goal is worth the extra effort, isn't it?

When Schools, Youth Organizations, and Community Youth Resources Bully

Parenting is supposed to be a precious gift to be treasured every moment of our family lives. We send our kids to school, to a youth organization, or community resource for youth in order to keep our children well educated, well socialized, and to teach them about how they can be a part of the community.

Just like the children of Mentor, Ohio and the 49 other states, our own children can become the victims of bullying and it sometimes takes on the saddest circumstance of all: Schools, Youth Organizations, and Community Youth Resources can become the bully.

This happens when one of these entities ignores bullying, takes some action but not the appropriate action rising to the level of neglect, or misuse of well meant intentions designed to protect our children. How many times have you or your child had to deal with a situation where your child was bullied so severely that they had real reason based in reality to fear for their immediate safety or for their life? Perhaps your child defended him/herself only to be the one on the receiving end of disciplinary / legal action?

How many times has a bully been found to be guilty by a school investigation or an investigation done by whatever other community agency they are a part of and the bully gets a slap on the wrist, or your child is made out to be at fault because of some politically correct line of thinking?

How about when a school or other community resource working with youth knowingly abuses or misuses laws and public policies designed to protect our children? All of these things happen more often than the public is aware of. As a matter of fact, our community leaders at all levels will defend these incidents on part of those who are charged with the care & protection of our children, even coming up with some very crafty statements & excuses.

All of these things are examples of how schools and other youth related community resources become bullies themselves. When families find themselves in these situations the first thing that will always happen will be a canned statement about how none of this is "personal" and that there are certain policies and protocols to be followed. Then they will always tell you about how they have to protect themselves from liability and how public laws & policies are written and interpreted.

Bullying started to become out of control back in the 80s when the political correctness movement was gaining steam. Back in that era, bullying not only became more violent, it became a part of the political correctness movement. Those of us who grew up in major metropolitan areas know first hand what it is like when the schools, youth organizations, and community youth resources become the bullies.

Imagine if you will, being the only child of a specific race & ethnicity in the school. Imagine that the majority of the students come from abusive, neglectful, chaotic homes from the most violent, gang infested parts of the city. Imagine being violently bullied because of your race, ethnicity, and social status. Imagine that bullying being so violent that you are in real life danger with absolutely no choice but to defend yourself because there is nowhere to run, hide, and no other way to get help because the school, youth organization or community youth resource staff is too scared to "get involved".

They state to be "scared" of lawsuits, criminal charges, and image problems. Now imagine being suspended and investigated by the police for doing what had to be done to stay alive. Imagine being flatly told that you aren't allowed to do anything and that you did "something" that no one can name to make yourself a victim.
They can't name anything you did because there is nothing, and the offender gets told what an emotionally fragile, confused creature he/she is and that it's "ok" because they themselves are a "victim".

The tables are turned in such a way that even with your serious injuries requiring emergency medical attention, you can't prove you were violently attacked and everyone is protecting the offender.

This scenario happened to this author on several occasions. The school, youth organization, or community youth resource protecting the bully and the bully's family are alleging that you injured yourself in order to pin it on their kid because you're of an opposite race and ethnicity, and that you're "racist", but forensic medical science definitively says otherwise.  The bully / offender has a juvenile rap sheet with "adjudications" (Convictions) longer than you can ever want to know about, is a State Ward of The Court as are many of the other kids in the school, and yet he/she is given every special consideration and is given an over-abundance of credibility.

This next scenario is hypothetical, but based on knowledge of real cases that have occurred in the lives of people once known by this author.

As the U.S. entered the 1990s, the children's rights movement partnered with law enforcement agencies nationwide, state child protection agencies, and legislators to create what we now know as the "Mandatory Reporter Act". Mandatory reporter laws enacted into law were written so broadly and vaguely that it promoted excessive questioning and paranoia about what constitutes child abuse, neglect, or dependency because the law did not define any of these things.

Schools, youth organizations, and community youth resources started calling the abuse & neglect hotline for every little scratch, bruise, bump, and family struggle. This practice has continued to this day, catching innocent parents and children in it's wide net. The courts have repeatedly been asked to define what abuse, neglect and dependency is and they have refused out of fear of not being able to properly protect children.

Mandatory reporters in many areas of the U.S. from higher educational and income brackets have been widely known to call the hotline out of their own opinionated prejudices and pre-conceptions. If parents and children are lucky, the call becomes "Unfounded" or is given a "No Action" status when a false call was really made. There are those times, however, when false calls result in an "open case" which sends the child and family through absolute hell! Sometimes, these cases get screened into the State Juvenile Court where the game become ass covering because now the state has to take responsibility for a huge mistake.

All of this has stressed the Child Protection System so badly that they are losing money on cases that should have never been brought into the system or even "indicated" to begin with. The truth is that most of the people in the system do not have children of their own and only have a one sided understanding of an academic text and professional practice, with no quality training and the person who called the hotline was not given enough training on abuse & neglect to even hold credibility.

These are good examples of when schools, youth organizations, or community youth resources become bullies. If you are a school teacher or administrator, a child care professional, a youth service agency worker, or an employee of a community youth resource agency, please talk to your administration about obtaining clinical forensic training given by licensed medical forensic professionals about child abuse/neglect, and more hours of training about proper use of the child abuse/neglect hotline. Improper use or misuse of this hotline is a crime in some states that can land you in jail for up to one year.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Soft Bullying

by Kathy Foust

Most of the time when we think about bullies, we picture the big kid poking the scrawny kid in the chest while yelling threats or better yet, the big kid shaking the smaller one upside down for his lunch money (something that still goes on today). But what about what I like to call "soft bullyiing", which is really just another term for manipulation?

Soft bullying is done every day of our lives and we tend to put up with it. Why? Because it's usually done by an authority figure. Well, guess what! No one is an authority figure that you don't allow to be.

For instance, when Hunter got his progress report, the teacher put a note on there that she was concerned about his attendance. I will be the first to admit that school attendance isn't my top priority. If I think he can benefit educationally or emotionally from being somewhere else, then he's going to be somewhere else. For instance, we went to the Museum of Science and Industry a while back. We went on scheduled days off, but had I felt that it would have served him better to go during a school day, then yes, that's when we would have gone. I'm a parent and Hunter is my first concern, not the rankings of the school.

This morning when he woke up at about 12-1 AM, he was very sick. I considered sending him to school anyhow, knowing that they would send him home. When they send him home, it seems to be okay, but when I keep him home it's not. Then it occurred to me. Why was I even worried about what they thought?

I was because it had been drilled into my head that educational professionals know best. Now, I'm not knocking them either. They are underpaid and have to deal with some serious issues. But I have one shot to raise this child and there aren't any "do overs" in this game, so I need to do what I think is best at all times. If that happens to conflict with someone else's opinion..well to be blunt, I couldn't really give a rat's ass. And how do I show my son to stand up for what he believes is right if as an adult I can't do it myself.

Authority figures use their own guidelines and threats of some type of failure, often presented as false concern for us as individuals. If my guidelines and values happen to coincide with theirs, that's fantastic. But, if they don't do I need to allow myself to be bullied into doing it their way instead of the right way? I think not because my backbone isn't that flexible. And, I'd like to be able to look in a mirror or my son's eyes and know that even if I do everything different from the rest of the world, that doesn't mean I'm wrong and no amount of bullying, soft or otherwise is going to make me be someone I'm not. If I falter, I falter in shame and recognize it as so eventually. My goal is to keep that to a minimum.

May we all walk with kindness in our hearts and our eyes open so that we may recognize the injustices that are suffered so that we make take a step further in rectifying them.