Saturday, June 25, 2016

Spreading Support For The Bullied: Let's Go Boldly Together

Spreading Support for The BulliedLet's Go Boldly Together
Comments written on this blog are dedicated to spreading supportive, encouraging words and principles for people who stand against intimidation, harassment, or other bullying behaviors.  Bullying is problematic even if you are not the direct victim.   Bullying is troubling when you simply know some someone who is victimized.  Parents and friends of victims feel the anguish associated with bullying. We must all work together to end the detrimental effects of bullying, harassment and intimidation.  Let’s go boldly together toward creating a safer, kinder society.

Attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors evolve through societal changes, technological advances, and new ideas.  Millennials appear to have an open,  a giving spirit of inclusion and acceptance. There is hope for a better tomorrow.  However, change and innovation can also have unintended negative consequences. While most of us agree, the Internet is an amazing tool there is a downside when used improperly or maliciously.  The ability to spread hate, cyber- bullying and other forms of negative propaganda are easier, faster, and more widespread than ever before because of the Internet and communication through social media.

Unfortunately, individuals who feel isolated and excluded from peers or their community may decide to use technology as an indirect or direct tool of harassment or intimidation.   Perpetrators of large-scale acts of violence may have fallen into this disturbing pattern of unintended negative consequences of technology and the Internet.   Everyone must become aware and make an effort to connect with individuals who appear to exist on the fringes of a neighborhood, community, or society.   Let’s go boldly together in an attempt to end bullying, intimidation, and isolation of others.

There are many documented reasons individuals face intimidating and harassing acts of bullying.  The reasons bullying occurs are typically unfounded, illogical, and quite honestly rooted in cruel and mean behavior.  When surveyed, students report the reasons they were bullied as being related to their physical appearance or looks, body shape (also related to physical appearance), and race, (Davis and Nixon, 2010).  Briefly, think about these reported causes of bullying and you will understand how important body image and physical attractiveness becomes during adolescent years and beyond. Victims of bullying must feel supported by peers and responsible adults and reassured they should not be harassed or intimidated in their school or community.  Everyone has the right to coexist without the negative impact of bullying.

Peer groups may be reluctant to accept children into their social group who they perceive to be “different”.  Adults must lead the way by modeling accepting and inclusive behaviors with neighbors, co-workers, and community members. Let us go boldly together in an attempt to create a kinder gentler society that minimizes the significance of outward appearance and looks beyond obvious physical features. 

We should remain undaunted in our efforts to spread understanding and acceptance of all people.  This type of unconditional acceptance does not mean that you must retreat from personal beliefs or values but rather it requires that you demonstrate acceptance and respectful acknowledgment of the beliefs’ of others. 

Acceptance of differences is a strong start to ending many problems plaguing our immediate communities and society as a whole.  Let’s go boldly together to ensure tolerance and acceptance that will help to create a kinder, more caring community for all!

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Become An Up-stander: Take A Stand Against Bullying

   Become An Up-Stander: Take A Stand Against Bullying

Honesty, integrity, and empathy are important traits that everyone should develop and hone. There is a lot of discussion about role models especially in connection with celebrities including professional athletes, musicians, actors, and high profile individuals.  This chatter is especially noticeable when young movie or music moguls exhibit attention-getting behaviors that are not a characteristic of a positive role model. Occasionally, individuals use their powerful persona, celebrity status, and wealth to speak out against something he or she personally values as significant. This type of fearless or courageous individual is a powerful example of what it means to be unafraid to stand up for what is right.  This is an example of an Up-stander. Acting as an Up-stander, you might stand up for your personal beliefs, the rights of others, unjust or inequitable actions, or other forms of mistreatment including bullying.

There is a story of a little boy from Louisville, Kentucky who wanted to seek revenge on another child who stole his bicycle.  He told a police office, “I want to whip him”.  I can imagine that victim must have felt as though he was being bullied and needed to find way to “get even”.   According to the story, the police officer told him that he needed to be able to “whip” him using skill and fairness. I do not know if the victim ever had a chance to get even with the person who stole his bike but I believe that he may have learned a bigger more important lesson from this situation.

The police office displayed the characteristics of an Up-stander by helping the boy to find his bicycle and providing a reasoned explanation that showed him another way to respond. A caring adult provided him a positive activity by teaching him to box.  This caring action likely resonated with the child who felt that he had been wronged. The officer went beyond his professional duties to stand up for a child.  The officer became an Up-Stander.

Research indicates that victims of unchecked bullying often turn to bullying behaviors too.  Everyday thousands of schoolchildren face bullying.  Victims of bullying face the fear of name-calling, physical and verbal harassment and repeated intimidation. School personnel must be vigilante and aware of instances of bullying.  It is important to create a school culture that demonstrates caring and compassionate actions toward all of the community members. Responsible school personnel must take a stand by implementing guidelines that address and diminish bullying.

Let us return to the story of the stolen bicycle. The bicycle-theft victim was Muhammad Ali.  An Up-stander (the police officer) and other mentors (trainers, religious and civic leaders, and friends) assisted him through this incident and many other challenges.

Eventually Ali became a world-renown boxer arguably the greatest, of the twentieth century. His notoriety and fame was not without controversy. He took unpopular political, social, and religious stands based on personal convictions and principles. He took a stand not only of himself but also for others who were not able to speak out.  Ali became an Up-stander. 

I encourage everyone to stand against bullying. Become an Up-stander for victims of bullying in your school, neighborhood, and community.

Monday, May 23, 2016

How To Stop Bullying In Middle School

How To Stop Bullying In Middle School

Parents have fear and angst about how their child will settle into a middle school environment.  The start of a new learning adventure in middle school has the potential to dictate the comfort or discomfort level he or she will face for the next few years of school.  Stopping bullying in middle school requires a cooperative effort.  It is wise to use an “all hands on deck” approach when trying to figure out how to stop bullying in middle school.  

School administration, teachers, and staff must make a solid effort to stop and minimize bullying behavior. Thankfully, there are now laws in virtually every state in the nation that prescribe guidelines, programs, and procedures on how to stop bullying in middle school and at every level of the education system.  In 2010, the Federal government issued information on bullying and harassment in schools, which provided insight on how to stop bullying in middle school and others schools across the nation: .

According to the "Dear Colleague" recommendations to educators, a school must “take immediate action" to investigate and determine what happened related to the bullying incident. Schools must also have a clear definition of bullying.  This requirement helps everyone to identify, understand and recognized bullying when it occurs.  Again in 2014,  the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights issued a statement about bullying  with special attention given to students with disabilities: . Unfortunately, students with disability often face bullying and harassment more often than non-disabled peers. 

It is important to emphasize respectful behavior toward all members of the school community and to be accepting of differences.  Activists and community members have created projects, events, and observances for promotion and use against bullying.  October has been set aside as National Bullying Prevention Month.   School personnel, students, and community members should spread information concerning the negative effect of bullying, harassment, intimidation, and violence of any type.   This sends a message of acceptance and support for the victims of bullying.  School practices and actions make a statement about the acceptance or rejection of bullying behavior.  Adults should not engage in behaviors that appear to “turn away from bullying” as if not to see or hear the incident.

Middle school stakeholders should become aware of the attributes bullies identify as targets. Bullies use verbal or physical harassment to intimidate victims about their race, religion, physical appearance, disability, or gender or other characteristics. The following suggestions provide several key ideas on how to stop bullying in middle school.  School officials must use a clearly defined description of what bullying is.   A bullying audit which surveys the level of bullying incidents in the school should be administered to students and school stakeholders.  School officials need a clear understanding of the “hot spots” or locations where bullying typically occurs in the building or outside. The location of most of the incidents should be identified, monitored and supervised. Students need to feel secure in their ability to make confidential reports and  have a reasonable level of confidence that something will be done to assist them. These are several key strategies, which provide ideas for consideration on how to stop bullying in middle school.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

The Effect of Zero Tolerance Policies on Bullying

The Effect of Zero Tolerance Policies On Bullying

The intent of zero tolerance policies is to deter, prevent, and punish students who engage in inappropriate behavior.  The term originated during the drug epidemic period of the late 1980's.  Extreme acts of school violence began to emerge during the twentieth century and continued to increase throughout the ensuing years.   The April 20, 1999 Columbine shooting shocked the nation and pushed school leaders to develop a response to school violence and other issues.   Implementation of zero tolerance policies were intended to create safer school environments for all students including those   experiencing intimidation, harassment, or bullying.   Profile information about the Columbine perpetrators indicated these students felt bullied, isolated, and sought revenge against classmates and the school.  While zero tolerance policies levy strict and unwavering punishment to violators, the policies were designed to promote positive school culture and reduce and restrict inappropriate behavior.   

The Free Dictionary entry defines zero tolerance as a law, policy, or practices that proscribed offense or behavior without making exceptions for extenuating circumstances   (   One key aspect of zero tolerance is the lack of exceptions based on individual situations or circumstances.   Occasionally, there is a case where the inappropriate behavior is mistaken as intentional and malicious.  For example, punishment such as suspension or expulsion for possession of a weapon might be the likely consequence when a   student is found to be in possession a small paring knife accidentally left in his lunch by a busy parent.  Even though a parent might acknowledge contributing to this issue, because of zero tolerance policies the student would receive a punishment. 

Zero tolerance does not allow school officials to employ logical, measured responses to situations that have extenuating circumstances and facts.  Unwavering policy regulations’ regarding discipline for school incidents reduces the right of school administrators and teachers to make individual decisions to specific problems.  Victims of bullying sometimes strike back against the bully after becoming overwhelmed by the repeated intimidation and victimization.  Using zero tolerance policies, a teacher must report the bully and victim to school administration.
Bullying behavior often goes unreported and undetected. Unfortunately, for a child who is bullied, zero tolerance may be ineffective and even work against him.  If a victim of bullying strikes back against the bully, he too can be punished.  School administrators and teachers should be encouraged to use a common sense approach to discipline rather than implementing policies, which punish, suspend, or expel a student without exception.  It is important to prevent, identify, and respond to bullying behavior.  Unchecked bullying has the potential to create negative consequences for bullies, their victims, and the entire school community.   

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Autism and Bullying: Making the Connection

Autism and Bullying:  Making the Connection

April is recognized as Autism Awareness Month.  In many cities across the nation, buildings are adorned with blue lights brightly shining to bring attention to the issue.  Autism is a brain disorder that ranges from mild to severe.  Individuals also have a wide range of abilities and challenges because of the disorder.  Some children are highly skilled in math and reasoning abilities but have social or emotional limitations. Signs of autism generally start to surface between the ages of 18 months to 2 years old. Autistic children typically tend to avoid eye contact, and physical contact such as touching, and have limited verbal skills.  Children with autism might face continued challenges developing communication and social skills. Ultimately, these challenges can make fitting in at school difficult.

Bullying is repeated physical or verbal intimidation that continues over time.  Bullying behavior also includes making threats, isolating or intentionally excluding a person from a group.  Autism and bullying might be linked because of the exclusion and isolation that exists as a result a child’s limited social skills.  Children with limited social skills sometimes draw negative attention and become a new target for a bully. It is important that we continue making the connection between autism and bullying as well as other mental or physical challenges that lead to a bully’s intimidation. 

Asperger’s Syndrome is a disorder that falls within the spectrum of Autism.  Although children with Asperger syndrome often possess superior academic or artistic abilities, they can become the brunt of jokes, teasing, and bullying waged by classmates or peers.  Parents, teachers and classmates must work together to ensure that all children feel included and accepted in their school community. Students diagnosed with Autism and Asperger’s may qualify for special education services including the implementation of an Individual Education Plan or IEP.  Parents, teachers, and other school officials need to possess current knowledge that enables understanding and making a possible connection between autism and bullying.

Every individual is uniquely talented in different ways and should be valued as such.  Research points to the fact that special needs students, including physically and developmentally challenged students are often bullied.   School rules, regulations, and laws outline formalized policies against bullying or harassment and school personnel must work diligently to ensure a safe environment for all students.    School officials and parents must stay abreast of research and information to understand the intricacies of autism and bullying. 

I encourage you to review the website  for additional information on legislation in your particular state.  Let us give support to students striving to fit into a world that does not readily make allowances for differences.  Take a stand against bullying and use your voice for individuals who are sometimes unable to speak on their own behalf. 

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Positive Group Dynamics: No Cliques Allowed

Positive Group Dynamics:  No Cliques Allowed

Social Injustice anti-bullying posts are created to educate and encourage.   It is very important to make everyone who is a part of the group feel valued and respected. I will admit that can be a challenging undertaking even for the most open- minded person.  I bet most of us can think of an individual who has difficulty getting along with others no matter what type of concessions he or she receives.    Forming positive group dynamics requires intentional, inclusive behaviors and positive actions.  There are many theories and terms related to how and why people interact the way they do.  Social identity is an important term to understand related to positive group dynamics.   
Think of the different type of groups that you might join or you have joined.  These groups include friends, co-workers, church groups, and community or civic groups and chances are you have a strong social identity with these various organization.   This membership provides you with a social connection to people and a positive identity.  Membership in various groups often creates close bonds and connections, work cooperatively to promote goals, ideas or beliefs, and yes, sometimes generate conflict. 

It is important to teach children and adolescents about group dynamics. There are times when adults need a reminder about how to display positive group dynamics and work collaboratively without excessive conflict or strife.   Group interactions can be simply described to children as “how the people in the group work and get along with each other”.    A Google search defined group dynamics as the processes involved when people in a group interact with each other, or the study of these.  I might add that group dynamics is the basic description of how people get along with each other in the group and their ability to work together to accomplish group tasks and goals.
There are leaders, followers, encouragers and detractors who emerge in almost any group activity.  Successful group interactions can lead to the formation of trusting bonds and close relationships.  In order to maintain positive group dynamics, it is important to use open, respectful communication among members.  Everyone’s opinion and ideas are valuable.  Each group member has the right to have a voice related to group decisions.  Inclusion is an important behavior to display when working in groups.  Without inclusive behavior, group dynamics can become stressful, contentious, and argumentative for both children and adults.

 Social exclusion and isolation are characteristics of cliques and bullying behavior.  The term, clique conjures negative meaning even if you are considered a part of the “in-crowd”.   Cliques exclude, insult, and sort out individual not deemed good enough to belong.  Cliques do not just happen in school and may actually be a result of school structures associated with success and achievement.  Adults can even fall victim to cliques and belong to them.   These are closing ideas that promote inclusion.

Kindness trumps Cliques; Compliments are more filling than Insults; and including everyone is a better option than excluding anyone.  These choices create a win-win feeling for all!

Monday, March 7, 2016

Girl Power: Find Your Strengths and Excel


Girl Power: Find Your Strengths and Excel

Physical appearance is often a source of anxiety and stress, for both females and males. People are so much more than their outward physical appearance.  This is a reminder to individuals of all ages to develop your personal strengths and inner beauty by forming positive relationships. Work diligently to achieve your dreams and goals.   Many young girls, tweens, and teens face relentless verbal harassment and bullying related to their appearance.   Increasingly and at a younger and younger age, girls begin to fret over their appearance, weight or other physical attributes.  Instead of worrying about appearances, I would challenge all youth struggling to find their calling to (carpe diem) or seize the day.  Perhaps a teacher, parent, or mentor will make a suggestion or give you the nod that helps you move forward toward success.
March is designated as Women’s History Month.  This observance provides a great opportunity to look at some of the outstanding accomplishments of successful females.  Since 2016 is a year of political debates and potential appointments, it is only fitting to recognize a very exclusive group of accomplished female leaders. Although a woman has not served as president of our country, there have been three extremely qualified females appointed to serve as Secretary of State. Madeleine Korbel Albright, Condoleezza Rice, and Hillary Rodham Clinton epitomize intelligent women of strength and determination who have been appointed as Secretary of State.  Coincidentally, Dr. Albright’s father was a teacher and important mentor to Dr. Rice.  These women understood their potential and worked hard to fulfill goals and dreams.   Even these gifted individuals faced challenges and struggles, as is inevitable in life.  They persevered to find their academic and professional talents, which ultimately allowed them to excel in a variety of situations.

It is also a good time to reflect on the challenges that girls and boys face from bullying, name-calling and physical or verbal harassment.   Surprisingly, popular celebrities have become outspoken advocates for individuals who face bullying.   Many celebrities have talked about their memory of unpleasant school experiences due to bullying.  Wildly funny and successful TV host Ellen DeGeneres admits that she was bullied as a child.  Ellen has also become a huge supporter of bullied victims and made online resources available to support them.  The list of stars who report being the victims of bullying is surprisingly lengthy and includes such celebrities as Justin Timberlake, Tyra Banks, Rihanna, Michael Phelps, and Miley Cyrus.

 There will be times when each of us feels like the odd man out. Many instances of female bullying involve social isolation or exclusion.   Everyone wants to be accepted and included in social groups.  Celebrate the power of girls with the inclusion and acceptance of different people and circumstances.   Chart your own course in history by discovering your special talents.  Find your strengths and excel!