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Posts Tagged ‘Suicide Prevention’

The Difficulty of Going Back to School for Bullied Students

August 12, 2015

 

bullying-the-disabled

It’s time to commence with another school year. Spare a thought for the trepidation faced by students harassed for having disabilities.

The following is a great piece on this very issue written by Chester Goad courtesy of The Huffington Post:

 

Typically going back to school means seeing old friends and making new connections, and while most kids are nervous about going back to school, some kids are actually terrified.

Research suggests that between 150,000-200,000 students are bullied in our schools every day. Many school systems have even added hotlines and “Student Resource Officers” (SRO’s) who can help identify and prevent bullying. Still bullying happens, and statistics show that students with disabilities are more at risk. In fact, anyone who looks different, acts different, or believes something different from whatever is the local cultural norm is a target.

Not only do students with disabilities sometimes look different from non-disabled peers, but students with certain disabilities like dyslexia or dysgraphia also learn differently, and students who learn differently often receive additional resources or extra help which can bring unwanted attention from potential bullies.

Growing up is hard but growing up with a disability brings a different set of challenges. Social stigma, misunderstandings, or lack of awareness affect the learning environment when educators, parents, and other students aren’t paying attention. What does all this mean?

It means families should talk more. It means we must be more intentional in our efforts to address the problem without causing more trouble for the kids who are prone to be bullied, and without arming bullies with information that makes them wise enough to avoid intervention. Yes, it’s that complicated.

In 2013, the increasing number of students with disabilities being bullied prompted the U.S. Department of Education to release a “Dear Colleague Letter” reminding schools of their responsibility to provide a bully-free education, and to implement specific strategies to effectively prevent or stop bullying of all students, but especially those with disabilities.

Parents of students with disabilities or any sort of difference should be vigilant and listen to their kids when they’re discussing school. Pay attention to changes in behavior, especially aggression and meltdowns. If your instinct tells you there may be an issue with bullying, talk with teachers or other adults and ask about changes in behavior or attitude. It’s a challenge for us as parents not to want to handle things completely on our own, but parents should avoid confronting others about bullying until they have all the information, and it’s best to leave the confrontation part to the school. Discuss the issues with teachers or administration. They may be able to give you valuable insight before you talk with the other parents or take your concerns to a different level.

Some adults are inclined to let bullying go assuming that kids will just “work it out,” and some students do work out one-time incidences, but sadly, true bullying involves a pattern of inappropriate behavior and when left alone can worsen circumstances for everyone involved. In some instances, students may truly not understand that their actions are being perceived as bullying. They may simply be seeking attention. However, in other situations they know exactly what they’re doing. Parents should never just “let it go” or trust the situation to work itself out.

Talk to your kids, and listen. Listen to what they’re saying, and to what they’re not saying.

Student suicide rates are on the rise. Quick, proactive communication and education is key, and could save lives.

The best way to prevent students from becoming bullying statistics is to know your students and their disabilities, understand the law, encourage peer intervention (because intervention by peers is considered the most powerful deterrent to bullying), and to foster open positive relationships between parents and schools.

Going back to school is always going to be a little nerve wracking. Kids will always worry about classes, friendships, and keeping up with the latest fads. But they should never have to worry for their safety.

 

 

 

Click on the link to read my post on What This Teacher is Accused of Doing to an Autistic Boy

Click on the link to read my post on School is the Place to Make Better Connections with Our Disabled

Click on the link to read my post on Dreams Come True When People Show they Care

Click on the link to read my post on Hitchens: Dyslexia is NOT a Disease. It is an Excuse For Bad Teachers!

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Suicide is a Problem Schools Shouldn’t Walk Away From

November 30, 2014

jayden arnold

Since a child spends a majority of his or her waking hours at school, it bothers me that many schools are so reactive when it comes to helping a child at risk. To wait for obvious signs of distress is a policy that flirts with disaster. I have long called for schools to help students who have difficulties making friends or who are undergoing challenges such as radical change, seperation of their parents or those going through a breakup of a friendship or relationship. Instead of waiting for the students to ask for help, is there anything wrong with offering it?

Suicide often occurs when the victim feels that nobody cares or understands. What  better way to show you “get it” than to initiate contact with a student that might need it?

Suicide is not a problem that schools can afford to blame on home issues. It is very much an issue that needs to be tackled through a partnership between school and home:

 

A SUICIDE prevention policy should be developed in every school in Australia to counter the scourge that affects so many young people, the Black Dog Institute says.

The policy should include plans to execute prevention programs, goals for positive mental health and guidelines for managing suicidal behaviour in schools.

Institute director Professor Helen Christensen said the action plan should be distributed to all school staff.

Teachers and parents also could be trained as “gatekeepers” to improve the identification of suicidal youth by better recognising warning signs and referring students on to further care.

“Gatekeeper training can be delivered universally such as to all school staff or selectively to parents of at risk students,” Prof Christensen said.

Under peer helper programs young people, too, could be equipped with knowledge and skills to help fellow students they believe to be at risk.

Experts believe young people are more likely to confide in one of their peers than in an adult when they are having serious problems.

Prof Christensen has made a series of recommendations on suicide prevention in the specialist publication of the Australian Council for Educational Research, Teacher.

“There is increasing recognition that a coordinated approach to suicide prevention must involve the participation of key community organisations,” she said.

“Among them schools are particularly well placed to deliver interventions that will enhance resilience, improve mental health and reduce risk of suicide.”

Schools at the centre of a mental health crisis among young people report that students are self-harming or threatening to injure themselves at a rate of more than two per week.

Child psychologists also say increasing numbers of children are presenting with mental disorders such as severe anxiety and, in the most extreme cases, have suicided.

Principals campaigning for more counsellors to handle disturbed children in schools report more problems are emerging in younger students — some exhibiting violent and challenging behaviours and a lack of remorse.

Cyber bullying, increasingly linked to incidents of self harm and suicide, now affects an estimated 463,000 a year with around 365,000 of them in the 10-15 age group.

Research by the UNSW’s social policy research centre has found increasing evidence of the lasting effects of cyber-bullying with links to low self-esteem, mental health issues, depression and anxiety.

A number of schools have responded to the Sunday Telegraph’s coverage of the suicide issue affecting young Australians.

Figures show suicide is the leading non-medical cause of death in children aged 10 to 14.

Writing in the newsletter of Rosebank College in Sydney’s inner west, acting assistant principal Paul Hardwick told the school community: “It was with great sadness reading the Sunday papers that the fragility of life hit me.

“Over the last couple of months families, friends and school communities have been left to ponder ‘why?’ and ‘what should I have done differently?’

“The College’s deepest sympathies go out to the families and schools trying to work through the heartache and sadness as they come together to grieve the loss of those so young.

“While adolescent mental health issues are on the rise, we as a community need to be able to arm our children with the tools to seek assistance when they need it and certainly when they are vulnerable.

“Just asking if someone is OK is not always enough.”

Rosebank College republished in its newsletter points of advice given by the headmaster of The King’s School, Parramatta Dr Tim Hawkes, which ran in The Sunday Telegraph.

Southern Cross School at Ballina on the state’s north coast said it, too, was touched by the tragic stories published in The Sunday Telegraph.

The school this week held a Wellbeing Expo “to bring the subject of youth mental health into the public arena and open channels for young people to know where and how to contact the right people” for help.

 

Click on the link to read Teacher Runs Suicide Note Writing Workshop

Click on the link to read Don’t Wait For Signs a Child is Contemplating Suicide

Click on the link to read Teachers Can’t Afford to Make Light of Suicide

Click on the link to read Schools Have an Even Bigger Responsibility than Educating

Teacher Runs Suicide Note Writing Workshop

May 24, 2013

simon

Anyone interested in the aptly named School of Death? I hope not:

Philosophy professor Simon Critchley from New York City’s New School said he believes that the only way to really learn how to live is to prepare to die.

So, as part of a larger theatrical installation this spring called School of Death, he offered a suicide note writing workshop to anyone who was interested in appreciating its literary art form.

The notes studied ranged from the terse and emotionally conflicted — “Dear Betty: I hate you, Love George” — to the narcissistic: “Now you will appreciate me.”

“The worst thing that can befall us is to die alone,” said Critchley, 53. “And the suicide note in some strange way is not to die alone. It’s always addressed to someone. It’s a failed attempt at communication.”

Teachers Can’t Afford to Make Light of Suicide

December 11, 2012

teens

I am sure many will fiercely oppose my view that a teacher who asked her students to write an essay from the perspective of someone about to commit suicide, should not be suspended.

Whilst I am of the belief that suicide should not be taken lightly in the classroom, I can understand the intention of the teacher and can see the benefit of exploring themes of self-esteem, frustration, self-loathing and loneliness, all of which can be conjured up through this essay topic.

A teacher has been suspended after asking a class full of teenagers to write suicide notes.

The man, who has not been named, is a French teacher at the Antoine-Delafont school in Montmoreau-Saint-Cybard, near Angouleme, France.

He told the 13 to 14 year olds to imagine what they would say to themselves if they were about to end their lives out of ‘disgust’ for their lives.

The assignment, set in October, read : ‘You’ve just turned 18. You’ve decided to end your life. Your decision is definitive.

‘In a final surge you decide to put in words the reason behind your decision. In the style of a self-portrait, you describe the disgust you have for yourself. Your text will retrace certain events in your life at the origin of these feelings.’

Teen suicides are becoming a growing problem, made worse by the proliferation of social media and mobile technology, experts say.

A recent study by The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in America, found that one in 12 US teens have tried to kill themselves at least once.

On a larger scale, suicides made up 13 per cent of all deaths among US youths ages 10 to 24 last year, according to the study.

Neuropsychologist Hector Adames said the rise of communication through technology is a major reason why suicide rates are on the rise.

‘What happens with an increase in communication among students is that there’s more pressure. There’s more bullying.’

‘When adolescents and children feel embarrassed, it’s kind of like the end of the world for them.’

Jean-Marie Renault, the school head, confirmed that the teacher had now been ‘officially notified’ of his suspension, following complaints from parents.

‘It was suggested that a student was on the point of putting an end to his life and describing it,’ said Mr Renault. ‘This appears quite disturbing’.

He said the teacher had confessed to feeling ‘confused’ when he set the writing exercise, and later regretted it.

As bad as this story can be made out to sound, let’s not overreact!

Schools Have an Even Bigger Responsibility than Educating

October 13, 2012

I am by no means making allegations against the due process taken by the school of a suicide victim. I am definitely not accusing them of a failure to act.

However, it is important to note that some schools forget that the most important responsibility of a school is to ensure that each child is given the respect and care that they so richly deserve.

Some schools seem to get carried away with standardized test results, appearances, marketing and uniform. These considerations are certainly not unimportant, but they do not compare with the importance of knowing every student, being aware of any bullying problems that may be prevalent (even if it’s cyberbullying) and doing everything in their powers to create a culture where bullying behaviour is not given oxygen.

It breaks my heart when bullying leads a child to take their life. These incidents can often be averted by a perceptive school community and classmates that refuse to sit by idly and watch a classmate suffer:

A Vancouver-area teen who used YouTube to share her heart-wrenching story of being bullied online and beaten at school has killed herself, unleashing a torrent of social media condolences and soul-searching.

Amanda Todd was found dead in Coquitlam on Wednesday night, less than a month before her 16th birthday.

News of her torment and death are being shared on social media through Tumblr, Facebook and Twitter, where #RIPAmanda is trending.

“I’m saddened to see that this was the only [way] this young girl could escape such torment. May she rest in peace,” posted one woman on Facebook.

Last month, Todd posted a nine-minute video on Youtube featuring her holding up cue cards that chronicled the cyber-bullying and cruelty she suffered, despite changing schools and cities.

All schools can revise their operational procedures to see to it that less incidents of child suicide come at the expense of school bullying.

 

Click on the link to read The Rise of Teacher Approved Bullying (Video)

Click on the link to read Nowadays There is Nowhere to Hide From Bullies

Click on the link to read Social Media: A Playground for Bullies

Click on the link to read Charity Pays for Teen’s Plastic Surgery to Help Stop Bullying

 

Child Commits Suicide Due to Alleged Systematic Bullying and Inept Teachers

July 7, 2012

I’m sorry but ‘soul searching’ isn’t going to be sufficient in this case:

The suicide of a 13-year-old boy in southern Japan after classmates systematically bullied him — even making him “practice” suicide — while teachers ignored the abuse or laughed has prompted soul-searching among educators across the country.

One of the boy’s last acts was to text his tormentors and leave voice mails for them to say, “I’m going to die.” They texted him back to say, “You should die.”

The middle school student, whose name has not been released,  jumped from his 14th floor apartment in the city of Otsu last October after enduring heartrending tales of abuse at the hands of his classmates.

His father filed several reports with the police, but officers never accepted them, saying that they could not prove that bullying led to his suicide, according to Japanese media reports.

Details of the harassment are coming to light eight months later, following a student survey conducted by the city’s board of education. In that anonymous survey, students write the bullying escalated to “punching and kicking” in September last year, about a month before the teen jumped to his death. The victim was pressured into shoplifting, had his legs and arms tied while bullies duck-taped his mouth. Students watched as their peers pressured the teen into eating dead bees, “pantsed” him, and made him “practice” committing suicide.

In the survey, some classmates report alerting teachers to those “practices,” but say nothing was done.

Instead, teachers reportedly laughed as bullies tried to choke the victim.

Any teacher found to be laughing needs to be sacked immediately. Those who texted back to the boy on the night of his suicide should be expelled.

There is a place for “soul-searching”. This however, is a time for action.

Click here to find out what happened next in this tragic saga.

The Cure for Suicide Isn’t Another Educational Program

March 11, 2011

I think that schools should implement suicide prevention programs and should certainly train teachers in how to deal with students at risk of self harm and suicide.  However, often these programs are nothing more than scapegoats for schools with poor cultures to pretend they are dealing with the problem responsibly when they aren’t.

The program in itself sounds like a good one.

Dr Martin Harris, who is on the board of Suicide Prevention Australia, says a suicide prevention program should be considered as part of the new national curriculum.

“I think it ought not to be the prevail of a particular teacher, but it ought to be a program which is embraced in a robust way by a school when they think they’re ready to do it,” he said.

Mr Harris says mental health experts could prepare teachers on how to broach the subject in schools.

“I think for us to be saying, ‘well, it’s not my problem’, increases the risk of it being isolated and for it to be stigmatised,” he said.

“I think it’s high time the community took off the blinkers and looked more carefully about what they can and can’t do.”

But Dr Michael Carr-Gregg, a child and adolescent psychologist, has dismissed calls for a suicide prevention program in schools.

“We’ve adopted a policy for as long as I can remember, that basically says let’s talk about suicide in terms of what leads up to it, which of course is by and large mental health problems; so suicide is the outcome of what happens when you don’t treat it,” he said.

“My view has been that we’ve been doing that very successfully for the last 15 years or so – the suicide rate’s come down. I see no reason at all why we should change our policy and I would urge schools to stick to their original idea and ignore the advice from Suicide Prevention Australia.”

My worry is that every time there is a glaring problem facing school aged children, somebody develops a school program to counteract it.  The advantage of a problem is that it creates awareness in students and encourages students to talk candidly and openly about important topics.  The disadvantage is that often all it ever amounts to is a lot of talk and very little real substance.

Suicide is indeed an issue facing our students.  Many of the reasons for suicide and suicide attempts relate to problems faced at school such as social pressures, bullying and academic pressures.  Schools claim to be safe, caring environments, but we know that many aren’t.  It can be argued that many schools come across cold, distant and out of touch with the issues facing their students.  Such schools should not be allowed to hide behind programs.  They should be pressured into changing their culture by spending as much time investing in connecting with their students as they do covering themselves legally.

In my view school’s must do a lot more than take on programs.  They must do everything in their powers to support and nurture their students.  They must fight for their students’ self esteem, help them find a sense of self and give them every chance to leave school with a positive attitude and real purpose.

If you think what I’m saying is just “airy fairy”, then you’d probably be in the majority.  Meanwhile programs come and go and problems still remain.


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