Saturday, March 27, 2010

Recommended Book: A Young Girl's Perspective From Being Bullied

Recommended Book:
Please Stop Laughing at Me...One Woman's Inspirational Story by Jodee Blanco

As a male high school teacher, I was trying to gain some insights from a female perspective on the the high school experience and picked up this (NY Time Bestseller) book. It was extremely enlightening on the topic of bullying especially from the perspective of the author as a young girl in middle school and high school. She does an excellent job of describing the experience of emotional cruelty that can ocur in our school if we are unaware and not in tune with our students, and most importantly take a "kids will be kids" approach to bullying. This young girl was highly intelligent and came from a great set of parents whose adult philosophy of "ignore these small minded" or "show them how strong you are by ignoring them" kids is not a successful approach with kids. IF VICTIMIZED, YOU HAVE TO EMPOWER YOUR CHILD TO RESIST AND PROTECT THEMSELVES AND THEIR PRIDE. She is an accomplished adult but the book is written from her perspective as a young girl. THIS BOOK IS A MUST READ AND WILL SHOCK YOU.
  • Bullies can destroy your self-worth and cause you to hate yourself 
  • A bullied child effects the entire family
  • Biggest problem with school bullying is mass denial
  • Kids intentionally academically underperforming to not be labeled.
  • Bullies never remember, and victims never forget
  • Kids taking a Bully or Be Bullied Approach (Kid Cycle of Social Survival)
    • Don't align with other victims because they are glad it isn't them
  • A student standing up and doing the right thing as a kid in a school environment where the adults don't reinforce (as a social teaching moment) and actively support this behavior can be disasterous. 
    • Sometimes the issue becomes Teen Popularity NOW vs Adult Character LATER 
  • Unsupervised slumber parties or mixed gender parties without proper parental supervision can have disasterous and life-altering consequences for kids
  • Transferring schools or even moving does not fix the bullying problem for the victim
  • Parents considering their child a misfit that doesn't fit in or referring them (the victim) to a psychologist, can distract adults away from the source of the problem (the bullies). 
    • Why doesn't anyone consider THE BULLY going to see a psychologist or couseling?
  • The importance the "network" of adults play in our child's development process and sense of security (bus drivers, cafeteria workers, custodians, school nurse, librarians, school security not just teachers, housemasters, guidance counselors, and principals)
  • Social proximity and density in a classroom (who sits next to who and how close, small group activities, same or mixed gender) can increase or decrease issues, but not solve the problem.
  • As an adult, knowing how to talk to a kid and make them feel comfortable and safe enough to tell you WHAT and / or WHO is bothering them is a critical teaching skill.
  • Bully vicims develop a misplaced sense of justice or gratitude ("thanks for not teasing me or for ignoring me...I understand why you can't talk to me.") or normalcy (I get picked on everyday)
  • Physical attacks, improper touching, damage to property in the guise of bullying or "just kidding around" need to be identified and treated as CRIMES or violations of school property. Administrators can enable bullying if proper consequences are not dealt to students violating anti-bullying policies. (If I punish these students they will make it even worse for you...)
    • End result is confiding in adults = more bullying and pain
  • Truancy and absentee-ism can become a safety net (I can't be bullied if I am not in school or do not go to that class)
  • Parents, if your child is victimized don't let physical assaults get "watered down" involve the school resource officer or police, and if substantiated PRESS CHARGES!!! The bully (s) will be emboldened if you don't and it sends a message to the school body that this will not be tolerated. It adds teeth to the school policies.  
    Read this book it will increase your level of awareness of the frailty and social challenges facing teenagers and how you the adult (parent, teacher, administrator, etc) can play a more effective role in ensuring that what happend to Jodee would not happen in your school or family. 

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