Posts Tagged ‘Anxiety’

Bullying from a Teenager’s Perspective

August 6, 2014


Courtesy of clinical psychologist Barbara Greenberg:


Hello Parents,

Your teens are getting ready to head back to high school and some of them are just beginning as freshmen. All summer long, I have been working with focus groups of teens and they have been talking to me and to each other and have been quite candid about their thoughts about bullying. They have shared their most intimate experiences, their concerns and their very creative ideas about how to deal with bullies.

This is what your kids want you to know about the bullying experience, but might never tell you. You see, they don’t want to upset you, disappoint you, worry you and are even concerned that you might not be interested. They are wrong. I know that but they don’t. Here is what they are not telling you:

1. The majority of your teens report that while they may not have been bullied, they have witnessed a peer being bullied.

2. They have not always been sure how to intervene at these times, but they have ideas.

3. They frequently and in large numbers report that an adult should be told about bullying incidents, but feel that even when they tell adults the adults are NOT likely to intervene effectively. They report that adults look the other way, don’t take bullying seriously enough and even give meaningless consequences to the bully.

4. By and large, the well-spoken and passionate teens feel that the adults are letting them down in this arena. YIKES. I know that no adult in a position to help teens wants to be seen as ineffective and dismissive.

5. Your kids have some very creative ideas about how to handle bullies including:

a. attempting to befriend them in the hope that a bully can become an ally.

b. making the bully laugh so that the bully learns a different style of interacting.

c. letting the bully know the impact that they are having on others. Many teens feel that bullies are clueless about their painful impact on others.

d. asking them about their lives. Many teens feel that bullies are probably hurting. It’s amazing isn’t it that teens feel empathy for bullies?


e. they have even expressed that you raise your kids to have empathy so that they are less likely to act in a socially aggressive and emotionally painful manner. These large groups of male and female teens have been telling me all summer long that they are concerned that some parents may inadvertently be raising bullies.

Your teens would also like you to know that:

1. They see many parents acting as bullying role models for their kids. They worry that you may be encouraging exclusivity, cliquey behavior and even physical aggression. Teens are and always have been watching the adults around them.

2. They think that adults should curtail gossiping because kids mimic them and gossiping is one of the worst and most hurtful forms of social bullying. They are on to something here; aren’t they?

3. They worry that you are bullying your kids in the privacy of your homes and that your kids are going to school upset, frustrated and looking for a place in which to practice what they have learned at home.


4. They are concerned that you might not even have given consideration to the idea that your own kid may be the bully. They think that you should consider this idea and work with your teen to be a kinder and more empathic individual.

I do not want to leave you with the impression that teens all blame the adults in their lives for the bullying behaviors of teens. Many teens reported learning empathic and pro-social behaviors from their parents. Amen to the child-rearing style in those homes. We need more of that. We need parents to realize that you are your teens’ most important role models. I have been saying this for years. Take this important opportunity in your life to teach your kids that their words and behaviors can either soothe and comfort or destroy the hearts and souls of their peers. Do not ever rule out the thought that your own child may be the bully at times and if you suspect this then work with your child to change this behavior.

We all remember own experiences being both the bullies and the bullied. None of us flourished from these experiences. In fact, many of us became emotionally and physically sick during these times. Your kids and I are calling upon you to be aware of your role and power in helping to both raise good kids and to become even more aware of the terrible interactional cycle of bullying that continues to persist in high schools all over.

Good luck.

Own your power.

Help your kids.


Dr. BG


Click on the link to read Girl Gets taped and tied to tree and ‘sexually assaulted’: Where Were the Teachers?

Click on the link to read Start Being Proactive When it Comes to Bullying
Click on the link to read The Real “Mean Girls”

Click on the link to read Anti-Bullying Song Goes Viral

Click on the link to read Some Schools Just Don’t Get it When it Comes to Bullying

Click on the link to read The Bystander Experiment (Video)



I Also Had a Student Hold a Toy Gun to my Face

February 17, 2013


This story is vaguely similar to something that happened to me in my first year of teaching. Whilst I was teaching a maths class, a student from another class barged into my classroom and aimed an uncannily genuine looking toy gun at my face from the close range. He then joined in the hilarity that ensued when I covered my face with my hands, obviously petrified by the ordeal.

The student later got a measly one day in-school suspension for the prank.

I sympathise with the teacher who had a similar experience:

A VICTORIAN teacher who had a toy gun pulled on her by a pupil in a misguided prank is claiming hundreds of thousands of dollars in compensation from the Education Department and the former student.

Suzanne May Tyson, 54, claims she may never work again due to stress after believing the $2 plastic gun pointed at her by then 16-year-old Mooroopna Secondary College student Adam Tyler Dorsett was real.

On March 4, 2009, Ms Tyson was teaching in the library when Mr Dorsett held a replica gun to her head in close proximity and pulled the trigger, a writ filed in the Supreme Court earlier this month states.

The court document alleges Mr Dorsett fled, but then returned to the library and verbally threatened the terrified teacher.

Ms Tyson allegedly suffered post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and depression as a result of the incident, and has been unable to return to work.

The writ states she was rendered incapable of any employment, perhaps indefinitely.
There will be some who disapprove of Ms. Tyson’s lawsuit. Some will accuse her of gold digging and question if her conditions could possibly have occurred from such a mild incident. Whilst I have neither suffered post traumatic stress nor depression from my similar experience, I wouldn’t recommend it to my worst enemy.

Click on the link to read Who is Going to Stand Up For Bullied Teachers?

Click on the link to read 12 Tips for Managing Time in the Classroom

Click on the link to read If Teachers Were Paid More I Wouldn’t Have Become One

Click on the link to read Different Professions, Same Experiences

Click on the link to read Our Pay Isn’t the Problem

Does ‘Stranger Danger’ do More Harm than Good?

August 1, 2012

If teaching children about ‘stranger danger’ prevents them from feeling safe then is it really worth it?

Research by the charity the National Children’s Bureau showed that under-15s are now less likely to enjoy outdoor play than in previous generations.

It was revealed that almost half of parents admitted that “fear of strangers” prevented them allowing sons or daughters from playing outside.

More than 46 per cent cited traffic concerns and a third were afraid that children would trip or get hurt while playing in parks, streets and playgrounds, figures showed.

The NCB – which published the research to coincide with its national Playday 2012 campaign – insisted that playing outside “should be a normal everyday event for all children”.

Click on the link to read Video of Woman Saving Children From Runaway Van

Click on the link to read Should This Movie Be R Rated?

Click on the link to read Sick Teachers Need to be Arrested not Fired!

Cyberbullying is More Harmful than Traditional Bullying

March 15, 2012

I’ve been of the opinion for quite a while that cyberbullying is the form of bullying that does the most harm and is the hardest to address. By invading the home of the child, cyberbullying takes an environment that was traditionally safe and has ensured that victims of such bullying have nowhere to hide. Cyberbullying also reaches a far wider audience, replacing the half a dozen or so witnesses in a playground incident with literally thousands online.

Children think face-to-face bullying is more harmful than cyber bullying but new research shows that perception to be false.

Researchers from Queensland University of Technology surveyed over 3000 students in Years 6 to 12 from 30 schools nationally and found 45 per cent said they were bullied.

The victims of face-to-face bullying, often referred to as traditional bullying, reported it had harsher impacts than victims of cyber bullying. However, other signs show the opposite to be true.

Lead researcher, Associate Professor Marilyn Campbell, said victims of cyber bullying reported higher levels of anxiety and depression than children who had been bullied face-to-face.

“When we measured their social problems, children who had been cyber bullied had much higher scores than victims of traditional bullying but they didn’t see it themselves,” Campbell told Education Review.

Campbell said children were usually bullied by kids they knew and often because they were different.

“It’s a cycle. They go to school, they get bullied. They go home and get cyber bullied. They go back to school and are bullied again.”

It is absolutely vital that schools stop sitting on their hands and start becoming more proactive when it comes to fighting cyberbullying. Schools are quick to point out that since the bullying is done outside school gates it becomes a parenting issue rather than a school issue. That may be true when it comes to legal obligations but not moral obligations. Schools should be expected to do what they can to ensure that their students are protected from being harassed or bullied by other students, regardless of where the harassment takes place.

Schools have got to stop obsessing about potential lawsuits and handballing issues to other stakeholders. They must show they care and fight for the wellbeing of their students!

Kids Need Meaningful Relationships More than Mobile Phones

March 12, 2012

No matter how advanced technology becomes, nothing will stop us from needing human contact and real interaction. You might be able to stockpile Facebook friends, but nothing can replace the loyalty and support offered by a real friend.

Sometimes I feel that we have allowed ourselves to live in glass cubicles, shielded from real people, real conversations and real experiences. The same technology which was devised to bring us closer together has been misused and ultimately, has kept people out.

Teachers have been instructed to keep emotional distance from their students, the local small business operator who cared about his/her community as much as their bank balance, has been replaced by people not interested in the place where they work or the people who frequent their establishment. People are much less likely to say things like, “I just met someone on the train. We got talking and she told me all about her interesting life.” The only talking on trains is via mobile phone.

Is this really a natural way to live? Is this how we want our children to grow up? Are we really surprised to read that children don’t play with other children like they used to?

A new study that found almost 50 per cent of kids don’t play every day has prompted an expert’s warning about a generation of depressed and anxious youngsters.

The study, hailed as the first of its kind in Australia, carried out a total of 1397 interviews, including 344 with children aged between eight to 12.

About 40 per cent of them said they don’t have anyone to play with while 55 per cent say they’d like to spend more time playing with their parents.

Forty-five per cent said they were not playing every day.

The MILO State of Play study, which also interviewed 733 parents and 330 grandparents, found that more than 94 per cent of them believed play was essential for child development.

But it is still rapidly falling off the list of priorities, said child psychologist Paula Barrett.

“The longer we de-prioritise it, the more likely we are to have unhappy and inactive Australian kids which are more likely to be anxious and depressed, resulting in a raft of social problems in adulthood,” she said.

Dr Barrett said unstructured, active play was essential to help children learn important life skills, develop imagination and creativity.

“This finding highlights a concerning yet common misperception that many parents share – they dont think that kids need to play regularly after the age of eight,” she said.

Many will criticise me for drawing a parallel with the state of society and the development of new technologies. Of course technology isn’t solely to blame for a lack of real and personal interactions. But let’s face it, they have made the issue more serious. Just look at the advertisement above. Do we really want life’s pleasures to be about how nifty our touch screens can become?

In 2005 a landmark movie was released entitled, Crash. It depicted New York as a place where people are too insecure and selfish to interact with others. The only way a person can have any dialogue with a stranger is if they, quite literally, crash into each other.

Our children need real friends, not Facebook friends, they need play dates not peer-to-peer gaming sessions and they need the adults in their lives (including teachers) to scrap any notions of emotional distance and become engaged.

Let’s tear down the barriers and bypass the touch screens and actually … talk with each another!

Schools Have to Wake Up to Confidence Issues Amongst Students

February 27, 2012

I’m not a medical expert, so excuse me if I show my ignorance, but I am constantly amazed by what looks like a overdiagnosing of kids. From ADHD to autism, from dyslexia to language disorders, our students are being bombarded with medically based names for sometimes seemingly everyday based problems.

Sometimes these diagnoses prove spot on, and ultimately guide the teacher to better understanding their students. At other times however, I feel the diagnosis seems rushed, lazy and counter productive. Not only do such students receive the stigma of their newfound disability, but they also tend to lose more confidence because of it, rather than letting the revelation give them a new lease on life.

What bothers me is that in making these diagnoses, GP’s, occupational therapists and speech pathologists often see a child’s low confidence levels as a sign of a condition that is impeding their learning. Why can’t a child’s learning challenges be caused plainly and simply by their confidence issues? Why does it always have to be a condition? Why don’t they try to improve a child’s self-esteem before prescribing and labelling?

I can’t tell you how many students I have seen over the years that have been diagnosed with some learning disorder that have responded not to the recommended regime, but to a devoted teacher that spends just as much time trying to raise the child’s self-esteem as they do trying to improve the child’s academic skills.

Sometimes I think we fool ourselves into believing that school life is easy and that all children should be able to cope fairly well. School is tough for children. It can potentially damage a child’s sense of self and can be quite detrimental to their feeling of worth.

I’m not surprised kids are reluctant to go to school. I am surprised however, that our psychologists think that only 1-2% of children fall in that category:

… suffering from school refusal, an anxiety condition that affects 1 to 2 per cent of children.

”A certain degree of anxiety or reluctance to go to school is normal,” psychologist Amanda Dudley says.

”But for some, they experience excessive anxiety and it can result in persistent refusal to go to school.”

Children who experience school refusal often complain of stomach aches, headaches, nausea and other physical symptoms and are often extremely distressed when it is time to go to school.

”It can be all of a sudden that the child refuses to attend; it can be after something upsetting at school or after legitimate absence from school,” she says.

School refusal isn’t a condition. It is a natural response to the challenges that children face at school. It is also a sign that educators are blind to the real needs of their students. By overlooking self-esteem issues and instead concentrating on placing seemingly normal children on an ever-growing spectrum, we are labelling children instead of responding to them. We are diagnosing instead of truly connecting with them.

I accept that there are children with special learning needs who require targeted programs and individual support, but I also believe that there are many children who would be better served if their school helped them to adjust to school life instead of bracket them with a condition or disorder.


Signs Your Child is Being Bullied

December 7, 2011

I got this helpful and informative list from BullyingUK:

Signs to watch out for… You may be unsure if your child is being bullied. If you suspect that he or she is then look out for signs of bullying.

They may include the following:

  • bruises
  • broken or missing possessions
  • your child is withdrawn
  • changes in eating habits
  • sleeping badly
  • complaints of headaches or stomach aches
  • bedwetting
  • worrying about going to school.

But there could be other reasons for these symptoms, so try to avoid jumping to conclusions. Ask yourself the following questions:

Is there anything else bothering your child?

Have there been changes in your family like a new baby, or divorce or separation?

These are signs that both teachers and parents must learn to detect and follow-up on. A child can turn from open and honest about things that are bothering them, to closed and insular very quickly. The best course of action is to take an interest, be supportive and when the symptoms are there, be proactive.

Scaring Our Children Senseless

November 9, 2011

It is the responsibility of parents and teachers to protect children and educate them on the dangers that exist in the ‘real world’.  However, in attempting to prepare children for incidents and scenarios that are unlikely to happen we have seemingly created a fear and paranoia that has proven quite destructive to the same children we are trying to protect.

A surge in reports of men acting suspiciously near schoolchildren has triggered urgent talks between schools and police, who fear the ‘‘stranger danger’’ message has gone into overdrive.

Police say heightened fears of children being stalked on Gold Coast streets are unfounded, and the increase in reports is the result of people jumping at shadows after a rash of incorrect media stories.

Regional Crime Coordinator Dave Hutchinson says some incidents are made up, and others are cases of children taking fright for no good reason.

I am a bit concerened at how scared and anxious our children are becoming, and teachers are slightly to blame.  Besides stranger danger and other programes that inhabit fear in students, many teachers in Australia have been scaring children with doom and gloom predictions about global warming.  No matter what your position is on this issue, it is important that teachers instruct, educate and empower children, instead of frighten or demoralise them.

There is a huge difference between helping students become perceptive, instinctive and responsible and helping them to  become fearful and paranoid.

At the end of the day, the importance of the message is lost when it inspires an irrational and overpowering fear.

The Humiliation of Standing Up in Front of the Class

October 19, 2011

Critics of the way our generation of parents rear children tell us that we spoil kids senseless.  They say that we go out of our way to protect our children from failure.  They admonish us for not allowing children to deal with disappointment, a crucial life skill in the real world.

But as much as I agree with these critics, I can’t help but sympathise for children that are not ready for the battering that can come about from being singled out amongst their peers.

When I was studying to become a teacher, my Art lecturer made us do a sketch of a fellow classmate, who was made to pose leaning against a ladder.  I can’t draw for my life.  Even my stick figures look shabby!  At the end of the activity, the students wandered from drawing to drawing, inspecting the works of art that our creative class had accomplished.  Then there was mine.  An absolutely horrendous, ghastly mess, that looked nothing like the poor subject.  I wanted to crawl into the art supplies cupboard and remain there for at least thirty years!

When we were expecting our first child, we attended parenting classes.  On one of our weekly lessons, the instructor got all the fathers up in front of the class to do a demonstration of how cloth nappies/diapers are applied to a newborn.  We were each given a cloth nappy and a doll and were given quick instructions before being put to work.  I have never been great with verbal instructions.  I am a visual person, relying on generous amounts of time and clear descriptive pictures before I can follow even the simplest of instructions.  Needless to say, my nappy ended up looking more like a paper airplane.

And I’m an adult with relatively good self-esteem.  Imagine how kids feel?

Imagine how uncoordinated and unfit children feel during physical education classes.  Imagine how traumatic it is for a child who finds maths difficult to demonstrate an answer on the board in front of the class.

I totally agree that these are problems children should be able to deal with, as they are problems that exist in the real world.

I’m just not sure I’m emotionally ready to teach it to them.

Cyberstalking the Worst Type of Bullying

August 9, 2011

Another reminder of the severity of falling victim to cyber bullying:

The inability to escape from the 24 hour online world and the public nature of threats posted on the internet make being bullied electronically more intense, it was claimed.

Addressing the American Psychological Association’s Annual Convention, Elizabeth Carll said: “Increasingly, stalkers use modern technology to monitor and torment their victims, and one in four victims report some form of cyberstalking, such as threatening emails or instant messaging.”

Victims may feel stress, anxiety, fear and nightmares, as well as enduring eating and sleeping difficulties, she said.

Dr Carll, of the APA Media Psychology Division, “It is my observation that the symptoms related to cyberstalking and e-harassment may be more intense than in-person harassment, as the impact is more devastating due to the 24/7 nature of online communication, inability to escape to a safe place, and global access of the information.”

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