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Posts Tagged ‘Floods’

Bullying is Always Vulgar But Rarely This Bad

April 8, 2011

My country Australia and neighboring New Zealand has had it hard over the past few months, with floods, cyclones and earthquakes causing loss of life and enormous damage to homes, roads and towns.

In a time of tragedy, one of the few positives that can be reflected on, is the way wider communities come together in friendship and solidarity.

That is why it is so upsetting to hear of the bullying inflicted on the brother of Queensland’s flood hero.

First let’s reflect on the story of Jordan Rice’s courage and self-sacrifice:

To then bully Blake Rice, the poor younger brother, is just disgusting!

Blake Rice, 10, has been unable to return to school since he was set upon by the gang, who reportedly recognised him from media reports. The teenagers later set up a Facebook page called “We Bashed Jordan Rice” to boast about the assault.

The incident comes after a series of verbal assaults and threats on the Rice family following the January floods that have forced John Tyson, Blake’s father, to consider moving the family away from their home town of Toowoomba.

Mr Tyson and Blake became well known across the world after Jordan, 13, died in a flash flood in January after telling rescue crews to take his younger brother to safety first. The boys’ mother Donna Rice also died after the family car was swamped in the flood.

The family believe that coverage of Jordan’s heroics have stirred up resentment in the town.

Debbie Anderson, a family friend, told the Toowoomba Chronicle, that they were sick of the way they had been treated by some parts of the community.

She said many members of the Rice family had been bullied, abused and picked on because of what occurred in January.

“They’ve laughed in our face about Jordan’s death,” she said.

The attacks have shocked and appalled the wider community, with Julia Gillard, the prime minister, describing them as “a low act” and Anna Bligh, the Queensland premier, saying the behaviour was “disgusting”.

The local authorities have promised to prosecute the teenagers responsible with “the full force of the law.”

Toowoomba, one hour’s drive west of Brisbane, and the Lockyer Valley were hit by a deadly flash flood on Jan 11 that killed more than 25 people. Communities in the region are still trying to recover.

Bullying of all kinds is vulgar.  It is a reflection of the worst society has to offer.  At a time when Blake needs the support and care of his wider community, he is being harassed, beaten and forced to flee.

Unacceptable and downright awful!

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Helping Our Children Make Sense of Natural Disasters

March 16, 2011

Below is an article from Michael Grose’s Insight on how we can help our children cope with Natural disasters. After last week’s catastrophe in Japan, the earthquake in Christchurch and the floods in Australia, I thought it was timely to make educators aware of it.

Help your children make sense of natural disasters

By Michael Grose

The Queensland floods and the Victorian bushfires continue to wreak incredible havoc on so many people’s lives and will no doubt leave an indelible imprint on our collective psyches. These two natural disasters will be brought into our living rooms via the media over the coming days and weeks.

As adults we all want our children to live carefree lives and keep them from the pain and even horror of tragedies such as natural disasters. In reality we can’t do this.

So what is a parent, teacher, or other caring adult to do when the natural disasters fills the airwaves and the consciousness of society? Here are some ideas:

  1. Reassure children that they are safe. The consistency of the images can be frightening for young children who don’t understand the notion of distance and have difficulty distinguishing between reality and fiction. Let them know that while this event is indeed happening it will not affect them directly.
  2. Be available and ‘askable’. Let kids know that it is okay to talk about the unpleasant events. Listen to what they think and feel. By listening, you can find out if they have misunderstandings, and you can learn more about the support that they need. You do not need to explain more than they are ready to hear, but be willing to answer their questions.
  3. Help children process what they see and hear, particularly through television. Children are good observers but can be poor interpreters of events that are out of their level of understanding. Sit with them. Ask them questions to ascertain their understanding.
  4. Support children’s concerns for others. They may have genuine concerns for the suffering that will occur and they may need an outlet for those concerns. It is heart-warming to see this empathy in children for the concerns of others.
  5. Let them explore feelings beyond fear. Many children may feel sad or even angry with these events so let them express the full range of emotions. They may feel sadder for the loss of wildlife, than for loss of human life, which is impersonal for them.
  6. Help children and young people find a legitimate course of action if they wish. Action is a great antidote to stress and anxiety so finding simple ways to help, including donating some pocket money can assist kids to cope and teaches them to contribute.
  7. Avoid keeping the television on all the time. The visual nature of the media means that images are repeated over and over, which can be both distressing to some and desensitizing to others.
  8. Be aware of your own actions. Children will take their cues from you and if they see you focusing on it in an unhealthy way then they will focus on it too. Let them know that it is happening but it should not dominate their lives.
  9. Take action yourself. Children who know their parents, teachers, or other significant caregivers are working to make a difference feel hope. They feel safer and more positive about the future. So do something. It will make you feel more hopeful, too. And hope is one of the most valuable gifts we can give children and ourselves.

Children’s worlds can be affected in ways that we can’t even conceive of so adults need to be both sensitive to children’s needs and mindful of what they say and how they act in front of children.

In difficult times, it is worth remembering what adults and children need most are each other.


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