Friday, January 21, 2011

Checklist: Are You a Bully?

by Saoirse O'Mara

Have you ever wondered if you are a bully towards other people, maybe unconsciously, without even realising it? How can you notice that you are? Here is a checklist:

  • Do you snap at people?

  • Do you complain if you have to wait somewhere, e.g. in the supermarket?

  • Do you make jokes about other people?

  • Do you talk about other people behind their backs?

  • Do you order other people around?

These above are all characteristics of bullies. I bet everyone of us has done at least one of these things every now and then. However, if you know that this is bullying, you can watch yourself in the future and avoid bullying others anymore.

Let's all do something against bullying by beginning with ourselves!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Classroom Integration and Bullying

by Kathy Foust

I know that kids in special education classes need to develop social skills. I know that kids who aren't in those classes need to develop tolerance. I just don't think that classroom integration is the way to go, at least not the way it's practiced now.

Here's what happens.

Kids who are in special education classes are in them because they need some extra help somewhere, whether it be due to behavioral problems, medical problems, mental health issues or learning disorders. When those kids are forced to integrate with the mainstream classrooms, a couple of different things happen.

For one, that child is going to stand out simply because they have to leave the classroom every now and then for their special education portion. Or, an aide is with them. The one thing a child doesn't want to do in public school is stand out from a crowd. As soon as they do, they're marked for some type of harassment from the other students.

Moving on...

A child who acts out in class not only disrupts the class, but, you guessed it, draws more negative attention to themselves.

And yet...we still don't take responsibility for bullying in schools? umm..okay then.

Moving on...

Do you know that some children actually learn how to be disabled? Kids are so much smarter than they are given credit for. They have tons of room in those little brains to learn new things. So, as we try to teach our children to behave, we sit them in a room with a child who misbehaves while the teachers tell the other children that the misbehaving child can't control it because they have a disability. Now, what do you think happens in the brains of those children who aren't excused for their behavior? One of 3 things.

They ignore it and stick to their normal routine.
They observe that if you have a disability, you can be excused for negative behavior, thus they begin adopting some of the symptoms of that disability.
They torture the crap out of the kid that gets away with everything.

Something to think about.

I'm just saying, if we want to set all of our children up for failure, integration is the perfect answer.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Self Acceptance

Healthy self acceptance is half the ammunition you need when it comes to protecting yourself from bullies. If you don't accept yourself, not only are you a welcome target for bullies, but in a way, you're even bullying yourself. There are more than enough people out there willing to try to make you into someone you aren't without you actually trying to help them do it.

Self acceptance doesn't mean always being right or that you are prefect. We all have flaws and it's important that we accept those flaws as part of who we are. Of course, self improvement is a great goal to have, but you still need to be okay with who you are before you try to improve that person. Otherwise, you're really just trying to wipe that person out.

The differences between you and other people might scare you. Those differences might even make you feel like you stand out like a beacon in the night. The good news is that you're right, but not in the way you think. Those differences are the things that make you stand out, but instead of being something bad, they are likely the very things that will push you towards success if you let them.

Embrace who you are. Faults and all. As long as you aren't hurting yourself or anyone else by your actions, you're on the right track.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Provoking a Bully

by Kathy Foust

My father and I have had quite a rocky relationship. One part of that rockiness is the fact that our lifestyles are so different. To me, his world is black and white and only changes when he allows it to. My world has lots of grey areas with very little black and white. We have different morals and concepts. The fact that we get along so well now is due in no small part to the fact that we stopped putting these things in each others' faces.

While I'm a big fan of each person sticking to their beliefs and who they are, I also realize that there isn't any reason to shove those beliefs in anyone else's face unless they are trying to violate said beliefs. I think this is something that needs to be addressed by our school systems.

Lately it seems that everyone wants to be a member of some special interest group. This is especially true of teenagers who are trying to learn who they are and find their place in the world. Of course there is a need to belong. There is a need to flourish as the people we want to be. But, every action provokes a reaction. What is it you are looking to provoke?

Someone out there is going to get angry and say that I want people to hide who they are. Let me just make it clear that's not what I'm saying at all. But, I am saying that you should be prepared for consequences based on your surroundings.

When it comes to things like homosexuality in schools, there is going to be some flack. There's probably going to be some bullying. I'm not saying it's right. I'm just saying it's going to happen. As adults, we have a responsibility to do what we can to prevent anyone from getting hurt. But it can't just be one sided. For instance, just because you're homosexual does not mean that you need to be flagrant about it. When you are flagrant, you're asking for a response from people. And yes, homosexuality is going to offend some people. It's not a value that everyone upholds, nor do they need to. The fact is that it offends some people.

For instance, I don't want my son to see 2 men making out in the store. However, I don't really want him to see a man and woman making out either. I'm heterosexual so if I have my rathers, I'd rather him see only heterosexual interactions. I'd also rather that everyone have enough respect for the people around them to keep their bedroom activities where they belong- at home.

It's really very simple. If I love the color purple but I go to a school that is predominantly against the color purple, then I need to be prepared for a response when I wear it. That doesn't mean there's anything wrong with it. It simply means that my wearing that color is going to provoke a reaction.

Please, before you call someone a bully, ask yourself what reaction you provoked. No one has the right to hurt anyone else. You might see your actions as completely acceptable while others may see them as completely unacceptable. No one has to accept you except for you. If you think that everyone else needs to change their own values to suit yours, then you're just as bad as the people who want you to change to fit the image they have of what's right and wrong.

Pick your battles. If you don't want a reaction then don't provoke one. There are always going to be bullies out there and people with different opinions. Take some responsibility for your own actions and think about how they may impact other people. If you stick by what's right and you aren't infringing on anyone else, then you have solid ground to stand on if an altercation does occur.