First there was the “hot sauce mom” who, screaming and berating her son for lying, forced him into a cold shower and shoved the burning liquid down his throat. Then there was the mom who, upset with her son’s poor grades, stuck the 15-year-old on a street corner with a chest-to-trunk poster board of his GPA dangling from his neck.
Now there’s the mom who splashed a photo of her sobbing kids holding a plastic bag of their favorite spinning top toys across eBay as punishment for the tops chipping her bathtub.
Extreme discipline? Severe punishment? Maybe. But I think these public displays of parental power underscore a more serious phenomenon that is rearing its ugly face: The rise of narcissistic, bullying parents.
Here’s what the mom says on eBay, according to MSNBC.com: “We are selling 8 Beyblades, 2 of them light up. As you can tell, they are not happy about this! They have been using their bathtub as a “battle arena” and Beyblades + Bathtub = Destruction!!! With the metal ones they managed to scrape the enamel off the tub, take a chunk of tub out and break off the soap holder. SO if you “win” this auction DON’T play with in a bathtub!!! We have received a quote of $500.00 to replace the tub, some tiles, and soap holder + labor of course! They had approximately $125.67 in their piggy banks that will be going to toward the cost. We will use the profit from this auction towards the balance and then it is onto other toys!”
Gimme a break. Little boys and their toys in the bathtub is a crime? And, if the toys are scraping the enamel, then confiscate them and throw in a set of plastic duckies in the tub. But to pose your kids, have them hold up a baggie with their toys and take a mugshot while they are crying, then post it on eBay is nothing less than bullying. So suggests the National Center for Education Statistics definition, which it describes in a document. According to the document, the definition of bullying includes a variety of actions, including “being made fun of.” That’s exactly what this mom is doing in her words and actions.
I asked Susan Stiffelman, a licensed and practicing psychotherapist, and marriage and family therapist resident and ParentDish’s AdviceMama to weigh in.
“When a parent feels so out of control and desperate as to deliberately cause emotional and physical harm to their child, I call that child abuse,” says Stiffelman. “These stories underscore the truth that simply being biologically capable of parenting does not guarantee true readiness or capability to do the day-to-day job of raising children. When a parent feels so out of control that they are scrambling to find the loudest, most injurious way they can to ‘show a child who’s boss,’ they must stop, take a breath and call a child abuse hotline or trusted friend or family member.
She adds, “I don’t judge parents for falling apart; we all have different thresholds for stress and frustration. But being a parent means taking responsibility for the welfare of your children. If you cannot manage a child’s misbehavior in ways that do not harm them, get help.”
I’ve never understood the mentality of anyone who purposefully mocks or humiliates others, inflicting pain with their biting tongue and then sharing that ridicule publicly. But on your own kids?
We wonder why there are bullies on the playground or on the world of teen cyberspace. I wonder if the answer lies closer to home, in the bathrooms and on the computer screens of parents who might want to stop and take a good look at the Mean Girl or Mr. Big Man in the mirror.
Bullying has had a dramatic effect on people across the United States. Bullying has lead to students and workers skipping and/or dropping out of school or work because they don’t feel safe. Students who drop out are more than likely to end up in jail instead of graduating and going to college to become doctors or lawyers or what they wanted to be before being bullied took over their lives. Workers who skip work can’t support their families or pay their bills. In extreme cases, bullying can lead to very severe psychological problems; possibly requiring hospitalization. Even more extreme cases can result in death by suicide because the person can’t handle the pain they’re being put through and feel at a complete loss, as if no one would miss them or people would be happier without them around.
Physical bullying is when physical contact or intimidation is enforced to make the victim do something they don’t want to do. Physical bullying may only show damage on the outside, but only the victim and the victim’s family knows it affects them mentally too. A 2010 case supports this. Adam Casey was bullied and he ended up going to the hospital with a broken nose, a broken eye socket, and requiring 13 stitches. Casey felt like a monster because of the way he looked after the incident. His mother told the press that he has become very angry because of the incident. Physical bullying can cause a lot of damage to the outside, but in cases like Adam Casey, it can cause even more damage mentally and emotionally.
Hazing is when the victim is embarrassed into doing something they don’t want to do. Seth Walsh was hazed. He was harassed into committing suicide. Students were taunting Walsh about being gay. He was humiliated by it and hung himself in his back yard. Hazing can be a group event. Twenty-six years ago, James Lenaghan was being initiated into an off-campus fraternity. In order to join he was forced to eat spaghetti, wash it down with wine, and throw it up so he could eat more. Lenaghan ended up dying of blood-alcohol poisoning. Hazing might not be considered bullying in all cases, but the results can still be disastrous.
It doesn’t matter if it is physical or emotional. Bullying is a problem. Adam Casey felt like a monster after being beaten up. James Lenaghan and Seth Walsh died. Bullying damages lives, some of which end in a blink of an eye.
Statistics show that one out of four kids are bullied almost every day. That’s around 25% of students being mentally, physically, and/or verbally abused. 14% of those bullied students have severe reactions to the bullying. Approximately one out of five kids will admit that they are bullies. 8% of students miss school to avoid bullies. Almost half of the people bullied fear further harassment in the bathroom. Roughly 280,000 students are attacked in middle school. Every seven minutes a student is bullied. 4% of adults will interfere, 11% of friends will interfere, BUT 85% of people will not interfere when they see someone getting bullied.
Every once in a while a lucky person will stand up for himself (or herself) doesn’t end up like the examples we read about in newspapers or hear about on the news. Not everyone is brave enough to stand up to their bully. Home should be the safest place for a person to be. School or work should be second. No person should have their safe havens taken away from them to the point that they feel like they shouldn’t exist.
Does “walking away” from a bully work? For years well-intentioned adults have been telling kids to “ignore someone who is bullying you and he/she will get tired and stop.” Now, with reports of old-fashioned bullying and cyber-bullying in the news almost daily, some child development specialists are promoting a new approach to the age-old problem. They are counseling kids to stand up for themselves, with confident words and assertive body language.
Sure, it may be easier for teachers, school administrators and even parents to advise kids to “just walk away,” but recent news reports indicate that the problem of bullying is getting worse, not better.
That’s why Girl Scouts Heart of Michigan (GSHOM) brought Kimber Bishop-Yanke, President of Girls Empowered, to the sixth Girl Developers Summit in Kalamazoo in early February. Kimber teaches kids to use their knowledge, beliefs, connections and resources to find their own “voice,” the voice that will give them the power to stand up to bullies. She says that the momentary discomfort that children feel when first confronting a bully fades as they come to understand that they do have the power to stop hurtful comments directed at themselves and others.
Girls Empowered teaches specific language to stop bullies in their tracks. Language such as: “I don’t like what you said about me. “ (first offense) “I told you I didn’t like it when you said that about me.” (second offense) “I will have to report you.” (third offense). Of course, parents and school officials must follow up when kids do report bullies, so that all the children involved will know that unkind behavior won’t be tolerated by adults.
Through Girls Empowered workshops held with Girl Scout troops, schools, church groups and camps throughout the country, Kimber is teaching girls and boys that it is okay to confront bullies, to “Stop the Meanness; Spread the Kindness.” Through Girls Empowered, she has taken her message to 55,000 children and adults.
A second step toward building power is for children to get involved in groups that give them a chance to serve the their community, according to Kimber, who was as Girl Scout leader for six years.
“I always advise parents to get their children involved in a group, at church, school or sports,” said Kimber. “I always encourage Girl Scouting for girls.”
Joining Kimber at the summit were two Girl Scout Cadettes from Marshall, Michigan, who created an “anti-bullying week” at their middle school last spring. Maddie Rayner and Alena Buczynski wanted to honor the life of Phoebe Prince, the New England teen who ended her life after being bullied by her classmates. They wrote “Phoebe’s Pledge” and asked schoolmates and adults to sign it, promising “to not engage in gossip or bullying and to take a stand to support victims of bullying.” Alena’s and Maddie’s work earned them the Girl Scout Silver Award and coverage by People magazine and Nick News.
“Alena and Maddie are two shining examples of the courage, confidence and character that Girl Scouting builds, “ said Jan Barker, CEO of GSHOM.
Cyberbullying is a growing national concern, with roughly 75 percent of teenagers using cell phones, the most common instrument of harassment. The U.S. education secretary has been talking about it, and the Department of Justice held a cyberbullying summit.
But local communities increasingly are addressing the problem. Indeed, three separate pieces of legislation are being introduced in the Arizona legislature to address the growing problem. And Thursday night, a nonprofit I’m involved in, StandAgainstBullying.org, will be hosting an open and free event in Phoenix to address the very serious issue of cyberbullying.
I will be there, along with concerned parents, academics, school administrators and other state officials, including the attorney general, the chief of police, the state superintendent of education and Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu.
Every cable network, every news channel and almost every newspaper has reported on the issue. And just as we were all beginning to wrap our collective minds around the problem, another facet of it cropped up: sextortion, where teens who send graphic images of themselves to friends are being threatened –blackmailed — by third parties, who capture those images to send even more and more images.
Most of these stories involve cell phone use and abuse. And it’s easier and easier to see how such abuse can happen: The average teenager with a cell phone sends more than 3,000 texts a month.
Cyberbullying and sexting from child to child can lead to, and has led to, terrible consequences, even after just one poor choice of cell phone use. A child victim of cyberbullying by his or her cohorts at school or elsewhere can suffer immeasurable damage, from depression and anxiety to poor academic performance. And, in some cases, worse.
A child victim of sexting can have his or her whole life ruined. The threats, the problems, are not so remote as to think “it cannot happen to my child.” More than 30 percent of children who are online have experienced some form of online harassment — and some report even higher percentages.
Do parents have to give up trying to keep their children safe in the digital age? No. Never. Not in any age can a parent give up. It has been argued that the digital age our children live in is the Wild West of the 21st century. But parents can never surrender to such a dystopia — and they do not have to.
It must be said that many children’s online and technological experiences are perfectly fine. The problem is those e-mail and texts that are not perfectly fine, and even the most innocent of children can fall victim to being harassed by them. Thus, parenting has just gotten harder; necessarily so.
But tools are to combat these are available to parents. (I, in full disclosure, am a shareholder and senior adviser to a company, Safe Communications Inc., that produces a set of products for this. There are other products as well.) Such tools can be used to set times when a child can and cannot text and e-mail — say, no texting between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. weekdays, none between 6 and 7 p.m. weeknights and never after curfew or “lights out.” And more, such a tool can actually stop cyberbullying and sexting e-mails and texts; it can block them.
This is the kind of tool that can help tame the spheres our children live and communicate in, can keep them safe and can give parents peace of mind as they still see the import of their children having cell phones and as children still desire them.
But more important than any of this, parents and children need to talk more with each other. Our strongest suggestion is that before any cell phone purchase for a child is made, a serious conversation needs to take place between the parent and child.
Parents: Go to the Internet and google the phrases “cyberbullying” and “sexting.” Familiarize yourself with what the dangers can be. And then discuss those dangers with your child. Talk about the rules for using the cell phone. The younger the child, the more important it can be to have rules, such as whom he or she is permitted to text and e-mail.
Discuss the logical consequences of inappropriate use of the cell phone. And look into the kind of Web-based programs we affiliate with, the kind that can prevent noxious and dangerous messages from being received and sent.
Communication, especially digital communication, is no longer what it used to be, and too many parents simply have no idea how much there is and how bad it can be — until it is too late. But we can prevent “too late” from taking place.
The technology is available for all of us (parents, teachers, coaches, administrators and other responsible adults) to do our part to make sure our children’s messaging and communication is safe, healthy and up to the standards we want for them — the standards they deserve for their childhood to remain safe, secure and healthy.
CHILDREN are being targeted ‘around the clock’ by cyberbullies, it has emerged in the aftermath of the death of a 15-year-natasha macbrydeold Midland schoolgirl.
CHILDREN are being targeted ‘around the clock’ by cyberbullies, it has emerged in the aftermath of the death of a 15-year-old Midland schoolgirl.
Natasha MacBryde, a year ten pupil at a private school, was killed by a train amid claims that bullies were to blame for her death.
National charity ChildLine spoke out saying cyberbullying is set to increase as young people find it easier to torment their victims by text and mobile phone at all hours with ‘no escape’.
Schoolgirl Natasha, described as a ‘charming, lovely and model pupil’, was struck near Bromsgrove railway station in the early hours of Monday morning. She lived in Warmstry Road, which is just a few steps away from the rail line.
Friends have claimed bullying is responsible for her death in tributes on social networking sites Twitter and Facebook.
Her distraught dad Andrew, aged 47, who is separated from Natasha’s mother Catherine, aged 43, said he wasn’t shocked by the bullying allegations.
He said: ‘I have no idea why Natasha died. But I am not surprised there are messages on Facebook saying she was bullied. I have no idea what happened, that is what the British Transport Police want to find out.”
Natasha was a pupil at Royal Grammar School, Worcester.
ChildLine supervisor John Anderton, who is based in Birmingham, said that cyberbullying, in which children attack others by text, mobile phone, instant messaging or social networks, is on the rise.
The helpline receives more than 20,000 calls from young people about bullying each year.
“With cyberbullying there is no escape,” said Mr Anderton. “In the old days a child would be bullied between 9am-3pm and there could be incidents on the way to and from school. But once they were home there could be a respite from that.
“But with cyberbullying they can be receiving threatening messages when they are at home.”
The charity’s comments are backed by Robert Mullaney whose 15-year-old son Tom was found hanged after allegedly being abused on a social networking site.
“This problem is not going to go away,” said 48-year-old Mr Mullaney who, along with 43-year-old wife Tracy, has campaigned for greater security measures on social networking sites.
Tom was found hanged at the bottom of his family’s home in Bournville last May. His parents believe he snapped after a single incident of cyberbullying.
A very disturbing report was released today documenting that special education children are bullied at a higher rate than non-special education children. The report, Walk a Mile in their Shoes, by Abilitypath.org, shows that disabled children are two to three times more likely to be bullied than their non-disabled peers. These statistics were combined with the tragic personal stories of some of those students who had experienced bullying.
This report confirms the fears of parents of special needs children who send their children to school but worry that their child will be mistreated. It sometimes feels to these parents that they do not have the ability to protect their children while they are at school. While it is certainly true that effective intervention can seem difficult, there certainly are proactive steps that parents can take to ensure their child’s chances of being bullied are greatly reduced. These same step will also help to ensure that if it does start, that it does not become an on-going problem.
Be a change agent: Last week, schools in San Clemente took part in Kindness Counts, a week-long campaign to encourage kindness and discourage bullying at all San Clemente public schools. Take on the challenge of leading an anti-bullying crusade at your child’s school. The truth is that bullying thrives on being unnoticed. When bullying behavior is spotlighted, it almost always decreases or ceases. By being responsible for creating awareness at your child’s school, you not only make it less likely your child will be bullied, but also that all children will be mistreated by their peers.
Make it a part of your child’s IEP: As noted in Walk a Mile in their Shoes, parents of special needs children should make sure that their child’s IEP includes goal that help protect them from bullies and their unwanted and harmful behaviors. Following are some examples of the types of goals parents who suspect their child is a victim of bullying should insist on in their child’s IEP.
Social skills goals-Bullies often pick on children who are shy and quiet. If your child fits this description, make social skills a part of their IEP. Through social skills groups and through in-class reinforcement, shy children can be taught communication skills and encouraged to give voice to the wealth of feelings they harbor within.
Self-esteem goals-Often, disabled children’s self-esteem, particularly in school, is quite low. They may have faced years of failure before their disability was recognized and addressed. That failure can lead to students feeling less than when in school. By having goals around a positive self-image, students are less likely to be bullied and more likely to report it to you as a parent or to officials at the school.
Teach reporting behavior-All students should be taught to report it when another student is making them uncomfortably or threatened at school. Incorporate into the IEP that your child be taught how to recognized and report bullying on campus.
Watch for signs that your child is being bullied-If your child is being bullied, you will be lucky if your child tells you about it. Being bullied is shameful for most children, and they are reluctant to tell others. Watch for signs that your child is being bullied. Some thing to look for is a sudden and dramatic reluctance to attend school or ride the bus. Frequent unexplained physical complaints can also be a sign of a child who is afraid to go to school. Finally, problems sleeping and/or an unexplained loss of appetite are also tell-tale warning signs.
Advocate for your child-If you find out that your child is being bullied, you must advocate for your child immediately. Go to the school and schedule a conference with your principal and teacher. Make them aware of the situation and together create an action plan of how the problem is going to be addressed. Know that schools have a responsibility to keep your child safe. If the school does not address the problem, you should report the problem to the school district or even possibly consider hiring an educational attorney.
The most important job we all have as parents is keeping our children safe. As all of us who have gone to school can unfortunately attest, young children are not always nice and sometimes they can even act awfully. As a society we too often hear stories of the suicides and tragedies that result when students are repeatedly bullied in schools. Do not let your child be a victim. Be vigilant, proactive, and a part of keeping your child safe at school.
MUSTANG, Oklahoma — A group of students in Mustang said they are being targeted on Facebook. A page on the social networking site is being used to cyber-bully pregnant teens and teen moms.
The page lists the teens who are either pregnant or are already moms then calls them various names.
“I just don’t see why we were targeted out of everyone, “said Montana Reid, one of the teens named on the site.
The girls say they found out about the page Wednesday afternoon.
“I started texting the girls saying ‘Did you all know about this?’ and they were like ‘No. what are you talking about?’,” said Carmen Hankins, another teen named on the Facebook page.
The girls say the site is upsetting to them.
“The last thing we need is people telling us how awful parents we are and how we messed up forever,” said Gabbi Preslie.
But they said it’s even worse for another teen listed who isn’t pregnant.
That teen posted “Like, this isn’t okay. I’m crying, I’m not…pregnant.”
“She was really upset. She was bawling,” recalled the teens.
A spokesperson for Mustang High School said they were made aware of the page, but it was taken down before they could see it. They say they will keep an eye on the situation to see if it causes conflict at school. But there’s little they can do if the person who made the site did so off school property.
The Mustang Police Department also said there’s nothing they can do about the site either unless it violates state law and right now there is no law against cyber bullying.
Still the girls understand how this can lead to a lot more than hurt feelings.
“I had a friend and he hung himself last weekend, cause of things like this,” said Hankins.
State Senator Andrew Rice has proposed a law this session that would give schools more jurisdiction when it comes to cyber bullying, even if it doesn’t happen on school property.
What is a bully? Aggressive behavior that is intentional, repeated over time and involves an imbalance of power or strength. Bullying can take many forms, such as hitting or punching, teasing or name-calling, intimidation through gestures, social exclusion and sending or posting insulting messages or pictures by cellphone or online (also known as cyberbullying).We now know that whether it is online, in the hallway at school or even at the office, bullies are everywhere.
We see heart-wrenching stories of children and teenagers who have committed suicide after cruel bullying by peers. The painful truth is that 15% to 25% of students in the USA are bullied with some frequency, recent studies suggest. And more than one-third of the American workforce will experience some form of bullying during the course of their lives, according to the Workplace Bullying Institute.
The news has served as a painful call to action for Americans about the devastating consequences of bullying. Still, the victims — be they children or adults — often don’t seek help or even speak up. Kids, who may think it’s just part of growing up, are too afraid. Adults whose bosses are bullies can fear retribution in the form of losing their job.
“Our society is more aggressive, more warlike, more combative, while traits like empathy and compassion are downplayed,” says Gary Namie, director of the Workplace Bullying Institute in Bellingham, Wash., and coauthor of The Bully at Work.
So what exactly can you do? Here, we offer advice from the nation’s leading bullying experts on the best way to handle the problem if your child is being bullied.
The first thing to do is sit down with your child and calmly listen to his or her story. “Don’t immediately react emotionally and try to solve the problem,” says psychiatrist Thomas Tarshis, author of Living with Peer Pressure and Bullying. “Any reaction you have will make it harder for your kid to open up to you.”
Keep a precise, specific log.
Record the date, time, circumstances and all relevant information regarding each bullying event, Tarshis recommends. Having documented episodes to describe to school staff members, teachers, administrators and police will help you be taken seriously and track the pattern of bullying behavior.
“Walk your child through the whole story so that you get a detailed run-down of exactly what happened, who else was there, and if there were any adults there, how they responded,” says psychologist Elizabeth Englander, director of the Massachusetts Aggression Reduction Center at Bridgewater State University. Plus, she says, “you also need to be prepared for the possibility that your child may be less than completely innocent.”
Consider contacting the parents first.
If your child is in elementary school and bullying occurs, Tarshis says, the problem can often be solved by having the parents and the children sit down together to discuss the incident. “Ninety percent of the time, it’s very effective to have everyone meet and talk about why the behavior is not acceptable, that it won’t be tolerated and that it will be met with severe consequences in the future.”
For older kids, contact the school.
Many students in middle or high school who are being bullied fear that contacting school authorities will make the abuse worse, but Tarshis says that’s often not the case. “In our studies, teens say that after they told, things did get better,” Englander says.
Attorney Rana Sampson, a San Diego-based policing consultant and former police officer, recommends writing a letter to the school principal.
“A letter puts the principal on notice that you are serious and that you expect the school to create a safe environment for your child to learn,” she says. In the letter, be highly specific about the instances of bullying and the harm it has caused, such as sleeplessness, lack of interest in school, crying or anxiety. Ask the principal to put in writing the steps the school will take to keep your child safe from the bully.
Take it higher.
Go up the chain of command if you feel your concerns are not taken seriously enough. “Any teacher or administrator who minimizes bullying by saying things such as ‘it’s part of growing up’ or ‘kids need to learn to deal with this’ needs to be re-educated on the devastating mental health and academic difficulties that arise from bullying,” Tarshis says.
Parents need to keep in mind that because of federal and state confidentiality laws, the school can’t tell the parents of the bullied child what action they’re going to take against someone else’s child. If the bullying continues, contact the police. Adds Tarshis, “Ultimately, some families have had to use lawyers to threaten legal action, which usually gets the school on board.”
Educate children about the Web.
You want your kid to be safe, but don’t threaten to take away his computer or monitor his Internet use. “For better or worse, electronic communication has become a set part of American teen culture, and the fear of losing their ability to communicate electronically with privacy may be more traumatic to them than dealing with the cyberbullying they experience,” Tarshis says. Instead, make sure he knows about using good passwords that other people aren’t able to guess and changing his privacy settings on social networking websites so that only friends can see his information.
Peter Davies, chief executive of Ceop, said: “We know that young people are increasingly using technology not only to stay in touch, but to explore their sexuality and to push the boundaries in what they send and to whom they send it.”
He added: “They often find out later that the image has been passed on to many others and as a result they can be the victims of bullying or harassment – in some rare instances we have seen these images end up in the collections of offenders.”
Professor Andy Phippen, an online safety expert at the University of Plymouth, told Sky News: “There is certainly a sub-population within the wider population that are incredibly blasé about this sort of thing.”
He has carried out detailed research with teenagers in the south-west of England which has produced striking statistics.
“Fiteen per cent of our respondents said that they do not see anything wrong with sending a naked photograph, that there is not anything inappropriate about that.
“Forty per cent of them said there is nothing wrong with a topless photograph.”
Ceop have produced a video for schools that graphically illustrates how youngsters lose control of any images as soon as they are sent or uploaded somewhere.