Posts Tagged ‘Violence’

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)


The Classroom isn’t the Best Place to Rectreate Famous Movie Moments

June 2, 2012

Finding a humourous way to let an unruly student know that they have overstepped the mark can be quite effective. It lets them know that you are disappointed in them without a loss of anger or creating a big scene.

However, when attempting to use humour in this way, please follow the following rules:

1. Never humiliate the student;

2. Never humiliate the student; and

3. Never, ever, humiliate the student!

Public humiliation is a huge demotivator, and it really hurts the same child you are supposed to be nurturing.

When a teacher decided to communicate displeasure in a student by reprising a scene from the hit movie Bridesmaids, the teacher didn’t just manage to break all three rules, but also managed to add violence into the mix:

THE family of a California high school student has failed to see the funny side of a teacher imitating a scene from the hit comedy “Bridesmaids” and allegedly trying to slap some sense into the girl.

Dionne Evans, a ninth grade student at Malibu High School, alleges that when she forgot to bring her homework to class on May 22 she was called to the front of the room and the unnamed teacher asked, “Did you see Bridesmaids?”

The teacher then allegedly slapped the girl’s face up to six times, TMZ reported.

It is believed the teacher was referring to a scene in the 2011 movie where one woman literally tries to slap some sense into another.

Evans’ family have filed a complaint with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. A spokesperson for the sheriff’s Special Victims Unit confirmed to the Santa Monica Daily Press that they are investigating the incident.

The teacher has since written an apology to Evans but her family have hired an attorney and are reportedly considering a civil lawsuit against the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District.

“My client has not been back to the class, she’s been doing her school work in the library,” attorney Donald Karpel told the Daily Press.

“She has been humiliated and devastated. She will be seeking counseling. It has been horrible.”

Bridesmaids, starring Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo, centered on a series of misfortunes suffered by Wiig’s character after she is asked to serve as maid of honor for her best friend.

Some suggestions for other movies best left out of the classroom:

1. Fight Club

2. Bad Teacher

3. Kill Bill


School Gets Tough on Misbehaviour and the Parents Vent

April 22, 2012

Whatever used to work when it comes to behaviour management methods (including the awful practice of corporal punishment) no longer does. Suspensions are distributed like handouts and are becoming increasingly meaningless. Detentions have never successfully changed attitudes or reformed students.

I have argued for a while that schools need to address their culture. They need to become more interested in the types of offences their student body commits both within and outside of school. They need to work with the parents and support them, even when the problem is not considered a school responsibility. This shows that the school really does care about the welfare of its students and has a desire to see that its children are making healthy lifestyle choices at school and at home.

It is sad that when a school does take these steps, they are often met with a “a tsunami’’ of outrage:

A new school policy that would hold students accountable for their actions year-round has generated a storm of opposition, according to Dedham officials, and has been put on ice until it can be reviewed and possibly rewritten by a newly established subcommittee.

The policy, which was approved in late March by a majority of Dedham School Committee members, spells out school penalties for violence and drug or alcohol use, even if the actions occur off school property when school is not in session.

It also calls for punishing youths who are at the scene of, but not participating in, such activities. Selectman Paul Reynolds said his board was in the dark about that aspect of the new policy until selectmen were overwhelmed by “a tsunami’’ of outrage.

“I sympathize with these parents,’’ said Reynolds, who will sit on the subcommittee that examines the document with Selectman Carmen Dello Iaccono, Police Chief Michael d’Entremont, and several School Committee members.

“Holding a club over kids’ heads 52 weeks a year with increasingly punitive sanctions sends the message that we suspect the worst of them, instead of expecting the very best from them,’’ said Reynolds.

Actually, I think it’s the parents that try to block this sensible policy that are sending the message that they suspect the worst of their children, instead of expecting the very best from them.

Teachers Advised Not to Report Acts of Violence

April 8, 2012

Surely teachers are one of the most important figures in the educational process. If you were to do a hierarchy of influence when it comes to the education of a child, surely the teacher would feature prominently.

Why then, are teachers treated as if they offer next to nothing? Why is such a crucial ingredient in successful educational outcomes disrespected to the point where they aren’t able to defend a loss of dignity or report a physical assault?

The story below may come from New Zealand, but it looms as a universal story if the treatment and welfare of teachers doesn’t improve dramatically:

A teacher is punched in the face, another is shoved in the chest and their lunch stolen, one is regularly verbally abused while another has their car vandalised. But at the schools’ request, none of it is reported to police.

Post-Primary Teachers Association president Robin Duff called the situation “intolerable”.

He said, in the PPTA News, the teachers’ union could not continue to be “complicit in this conspiracy of silence” that concealed the level of violence within schools.

He said competitiveness in schools gave them an incentive to hide issues of violence towards teachers and staff, and some schools did not want police involved because it could lead to negative publicity.

The national executive was “particularly concerned” to learn that some schools were actually forbidding teachers from reporting instances to police.

In one case a teacher was sitting in their classroom eating lunch when a student walked in and punched them in the face. The school told the teacher not to go to police because it would be dealt with internally. Nothing happened.

Another a teacher was shoved in the chest and their lunch was taken.

There were also numerous reports of teachers being punched, kicked or threatened, and property including cars and houses, being vandalised.

One teacher said every teacher knew a colleague who had been verbally abused, physically threatened or suffered instances with students out of control and a risk to themselves and others.

“Senior management of schools are under pressure to reduce instances of suspension and expulsion and we all know of instances where there is pressure not to report assaults on persons, or criminal damage to teachers’ property.”

Standardised testing, dismissing so-called “poor teacher”, increasing teacher’s responsibilities and paperwork demands are all methods for improving the academic standards of schools.

I would argue that all those methods are doomed to failure. Any other initiative will have a similar fate, unless it comes on the back of a recognition that the teacher is a crucial stakeholder in the education of our children. Until they are respected, supported and appreciated, our children are unlikely to reach their potential.


New Website Launched Gives Bullied Children Support

March 16, 2012

I embrace anything that will help victims of bullying to overcome, or at least manage their situation:

The Bullying No Way! site was launched today as part of the national day of action against bullying and violence.

It offers facts about bullying for children and their parents and tips on how to deal with it or who to talk to.

The site will also have a choose-your-own-adventure game for students to learn how to deal with bullying and moderated forums where children can discuss their problems with peers.

West Australian education minister Elizabeth Constable said the website would promote strategies to help different jurisdictions and education authorities develop ways to address bullying.

“School communities are working hard to make school environments safer, more supportive and respectful for all young people and adults – places where everyone is free from bullying, harassment, discrimination and violence,” she said.

“The new Bullying No way! website contains the latest information on bullying and violence and is a useful resource to support school communities in this important venture.”

Dr Constable chairs the council of Australian education ministers, which launched the website.

The council will also launch an iPhone app which will let students access instant information about bullying and what to do about it.

The new website is at

Issues Relating to Kids and Video Games

January 3, 2012


Excessive video game use and high rates of video game addiction lead to much anguish from concerned parents. Many parents never saw the addictive pull of video games as an issue when they bought consoles for their kids or allowed them to have a computer in their bedrooms. I read a very interesting piece by writer, Scott Steinberg, on the major issues relating to children and video games.

He examines some of the most common concerns parents have about video games:

– Amount of Play Time
– Age Appropriateness
– Health and Obesity
– Addiction
– Safety Concerns
– Violence, Aggression and Misbehavior

The issue of particular interest to me was the video game addiction section. Video game addiction is not a term we hear very often, but I’m afraid it will be widely familiar in the next few years.

  • Addiction– For some kids, there is a real danger of becoming too involved in playing games, or even in living too much of their lives in the virtual world of the Internet. In rare cases, true symptoms of addiction can develop, and such kids can require direct help from their parents, peers, and professionals to have a healthy, balanced life. While a change of environment and routine can sometimes be enough to break kids out of an addictive mindset, the reality is that it’s hard to prohibit kids from using technology on a regular basis, since it’s such an integral part of daily life. Many experts encourage parents to become more engaged in the addictive activity in an effort to better understand the problem and prospective solutions. They also encourage families to seek out professional help should children exhibit warning signs of addiction. Several of these warning signs, according to the Search Institute, an independent non-profit organization dedicated to creating healthy communities, and other sources, include:
  • Playing for increasing amounts of time
  • Lying to family and friends about video game usage
  • Thinking about gaming during other activities
  • Using video games to escape from real-life problems or bad feelings, as well as anxiety or depression
  • Becoming restless or irritable when attempting to stop playing video games
  • Skipping homework in order to play video games
  • Doing poorly on a school assignment or test because of time spent playing video games

I urge parents to spot the signs before the addiction gets completely out of hand. It may even be worth reading Mr. Steinberg’s book, “The Modern Parent’s Guide to Kids and Video Games,” which will be free to download at in February 2012.

Do Suspensions Really Work?

October 7, 2011

I have been reading about the dramatic increases in suspensions as a response to schoolyard violence and unruly behaviour.  A few months ago I wrote about the 900 British students reportedly suspended per day.

Today I noticed that more than 100 students in Australia are being suspended on a daily basis:

VIOLENT schoolyard attacks have marred the start of Term 4 as figures show more than 100 suspensions were handed out every school day last year for physical misconduct.

One student was stabbed in the head and four others bashed with a baseball bat in separate schoolyard incidents this week.

A 14-year-old girl was hospitalised at Tara, west of Dalby, on Wednesday after she was stabbed in the head allegedly by another student, 14, with a steak knife during a lunchtime scuffle.

Tara Shire State College went into lockdown shortly after 1.30pm and police were called.

A 14-year-old girl has been charged and will be dealt with under the Youth Justices Act. She has also been suspended. The injured student required stitches.

The question has to be asked: Are suspensions working?

In my day the threat of a suspension was extremely effective in moderating our behaviour.  But with so many seemingly disregarding the inevitable consequences of violent or unruly behaviour, I am of the opinion that suspensions are not working.  It seems an opportune time to consider an alternate form of action.

What has been your experience with suspensions?  Do they work in your school?


900 British Students Suspended Per Day

July 29, 2011

It seems student violence is a major issue in Britain.  Reading that 900 students are suspended each day for physical and verbal violence towards teachers and classmates, indicates to me schools in Britain are at crisis point.  It seems that whatever they are doing clearly isn’t working:

Bad behaviour is blighting Britain’s schools with almost 900 children suspended every day for attacking or verbally abusing their teachers and classmates, new figures show.

Every school day 13 pupils are permanently expelled for attacks and abuse and 878 are suspended in England’s primary and secondary schools.

The figures, from the Department for Education, include physical assaults, racist abuse and threatening behaviour.

In total, they show school children were suspended on 166,900 occasions for assault or abuse.

And pupils were expelled on 2,460 occasions.

And the level of violence in primary schools was also high with children aged four and under suspended 1,210 times and expelled 20 times.

Across all of England’s primary, secondary and special schools, boys were around four times more likely to be expelled than girls, with boys accounting for 78 per cent of expulsions

Should Violent Video Games Be Banned?

July 26, 2011

I am glad to see that the recent events in Norway isn’t prompting any knee-jerk reactions in banning violent video games.  Although I dislike violent video games and would not want them in my house, I am not an advocate for banning them from the public.  As much as I despise violence of any kind, I don’t believe that violent games causes violent outbursts.

Proper censorship classifications is a much better approach:

THE Australian government will not back away from new classifications for violent video games despite suggestions they might have played a part in the Norwegian horror, says Home Affairs Minister Brendan O’Connor.

State and federal attorneys-general last week ended years of debate and agreed to support an R18+ classification for video games, with the exception of NSW’s Greg Smith, who abstained.

Mr O’Connor has rejected calls for governments to reconsider their position after revelations that the man accused of carrying out the bomb and shooting attacks in Norway, Anders Breivik, was obsessed with violent video games.

“Because there’s a madman who has done just such atrocities in Norway, I don’t think means that we are going to close down film or the engagement with games,” he told ABC TV yesterday.

Mr O’Connor said that under the new R18+ classification, the 50 most popular adult games could no longer be played by 15-year-olds.

Corporal Punishment Reveals the Worst School Has to Offer

April 24, 2011

Imagine finally taking the important and highly necessary measure of banning corporal punishment only to take on another absurdly simple-minded strategy in its place.  That is what India’s Sindhi Vidyalaya matriculation Higher Secondary School is guilty of:

Candy or cane? City schools seem to have dumped the primitive notion of spare the rod and spoil the child. Instead of wielding the stick, they are now offering chocolates to kids to encourage them in academic excellence and enforce discipline.

“We are strictly against corporal punishment. We hand out chocolates to students if they score good marks and behave well in school. We have realised that it greatly motivates our students,” said Gouri Ramarathinam, Principal, Sindhi Vidyalaya matriculation Higher Secondary School.

Why go from one extreme to another?  Is it so difficult to replace a terrible educational policy for a sensible one?

Meanwhile, in Johannesburg banning corporal punishment didn’t change a thing:

Corporal punishment is still common in South African schools even though it was banned more than a decade ago. Recent research showed that up to 70% of primary school and 50% of high school pupils were still subjected to corporal punishment.

In Louisiana corporal punishment is here to stay.  But don’t be concerned. They have come up with a foolproof measure for its responsible use – a checklist!:

Corporal punishment is here to stay in Rapides Parish public schools, and members of the Disciplinary Policy Review Committee on Wednesday discussed ways parents can inform a principal if they don’t want their children paddled for infractions.

“Corporal punishment is an acceptable discipline procedure by law … We try and use it as little as possible,” said Ruby Smith, the Rapides Parish School District’s director of child welfare and attendance. “When I was a child in school, corporal punishment worked like butter on toast. I receive few calls from parents saying that they don’t want their child to receive corporal punishment.”

Louisiana House Resolution No. 167 was passed last year that requires principals to fill out a “Corporal Punishment Incident Checklist.”

“Principals will send the checklist to the (School Board office), and once a month, it will be sent to the state Department of Education,” Smith said. “Our first reporting was due in Baton Rouge on the 11th of April, and principals will have to turn one in every month, regardless if they have an incident or not. The officials in Baton Rouge will probably do some study on the checklist.”

Corporal punishment never worked like “butter on toast” for students as it may have for teachers, Ms. Smith! I am sorry to tell you but your checklist isn’t worth the paper it’s written on.

To conclude my thought for the day on this awful means of disciplining kids, I will quote from an article entitled “Schools Under Pressure to Spare the Rod Forever,” Dan Frosch tells the story of one case, and then puts it into larger context:

When Tyler Anastopoulos got in trouble for skipping detention at his high school recently, he received the same punishment that students in parts of rural Texas have been getting for generations.

Tyler, an 11th grader from Wichita Falls, was sent to the assistant principal and given three swift swats to the backside with a paddle, recalled Angie Herring, his mother. The blows were so severe that they caused deep bruises and the boy wound up in the hospital, Ms. Herring said.

While the image of the high school principal patrolling the halls with paddle in hand is largely of the past, corporal punishment is still alive in 20 states, according to the Center for Effective Discipline, a group that tracks its use in schools around the country and advocates for its end. Most of those states are in the South, where paddling remains ingrained in the social and family fabric of some communities.

Each year, prodded by child safety advocates, state legislatures debate whether corporal punishment amounts to an archaic form of child abuse or an effective means of discipline.

This month, Tyler, who attends City View Junior/Senior High School, told his story to lawmakers in Texas, which is considering a ban on corporal punishment. The same week, legislators in New Mexico voted to end the practice there.

Texas schools, Ms. Herring fumed, appear to have free rein in disciplining a student, “as long as you don’t kill him.”

“If I did that to my son,” she said, “I’d go to jail.”

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