Friday, October 28, 2016

Bullying and Cyber Bullying: One Community's Comprehensive & Collective Response!

Recently, I had the honor of presenting at one of the most amazing conferences -

I am filled with hope that we can turn the tide against the toxic wave of bullying and cyber bullying which has been destroying so many lives - young and adult! Why was this informative and restorative conference different from others? Because the Riverside Medical Clinic Charitable Foundation  (RMC) knows that there is no one strategy which can solve this pandemic social brutality and there is no one single person or group responsible for remedying it!

RMC brought together thought leaders with their respective expertise and experience to address bullying and cyber bullying with a comprehensive and collective response!
As a team - educators, counselors, health care professionals, 
parents/guardians, law enforcement, policy makers, community advocates and faith-based 
leaders - we each can do our part in creating and cultivating necessary behavioral shifts in our patterns of thinking, feeling, and behaving. 

It is only human and natural that when caring and concerned parents/guardians and professionals are faced with social challenges which endanger our children's lives, we want a quick fix. We want it to stop! And when our kids are targets of bullying and cyber bullying, we are often frightened and frustrated by the lack of effective response. Throughout the conference day, speaker after speaker addressed a myriad of tools and strategies for protection and intervention against bullying and cyber bullying. These are important! We must know them and we must commit to implementing them! At the same time, there was a re-occurring theme of prevention within all the presentations which addressed the causal factors of these two social ills. And, it is only when we are willing to examine causation that we will truly be able to achieve prevention. 

With bullying and cyber bullying, what does this mean?

Bullying is not the source of the problem.
Causation: The act of bullying is symptomatic of a deeper underlying issue -  a maladaptive mindset, attitude or belief that aggression with the intent of inflicting harm on an innocent individual is justified, and in some cases deserved.

Cyber bulling is not the cause of the problem. 
Causation: The act of cyber bullying is the consequence of  deeper underlying issues -
 the slow erosion of the human empathic spirit fueled by an increasing sense 
of disconnect towards others and by the process of morally disengaging from others.

Changing thoughts, attitudes and beliefs does not happen with a one-stop emotional appeal! Assemblies and week or  month-long attention-grabbing activities to honor any cause is a great start, but it is not enough!  In order to prevent any disease, disorder, or social issue, it means we must address causation - we must call out harmful external sources of influence or impact and correct unhealthy patterns of thinking, feeling, and believing!

This takes time and hard work. 
Most importantly, it requires we grab hold of research-based, effective, 
implementable tools and strategies designed to create and sustain healthy change!

And thus, my excitement built throughout the day as each expert called for comprehensive, empathy-based curriculum and  social emotional learning/programming in order to prevent bullying and cyber bullying!

And the great news is - we don't have to re-invent the wheel!  The programs are ready to go! 

I'm going to leave you with the names of a few organizations and their respective programs and/or curriculum. You can find all the information on their websites!  Although there are many other good ones, I am familiar with these. 

Parents/Guardians, Educators, Youth & Youth Groups, Camps or Clubs

1. Family Online Safety Institute - FOSI  - "How To Be A Good Digital Parent" 
This is a new program which was just launched! This is great for a PTA meeting, a parent group, or for your own family. All the forms, handouts, and a great power-point presentation are ready to go! There are also tons of other tools on their site! Everything is FREE!

2. Cyber Bullying Research Center - Cyber Bullying Research Center 
This is an awesome organization!  They have tons of tools and strategies for protection and prevention. All their materials are FREE, except for their books.

They have recently launched "Words Wound: Delete Cyber Bullying and Make Kindness Go Viral". This tween to teen program  is FREE (except for the book).  Everything you need to implement into a home-room, advisory class, or youth group!  In my opinion, this looks like a good fit for middle school!

3.  Visit Holli Kenley  for tools and strategies in dealing with cyber bullying.
Parents and guardians, I created Cyber Bullying No More: Parenting A High Tech Generation specifically for you! It's a clear, concise book with easy steps for protecting your child, intervening when needed, and preventing cyber bullying!

Educators, Counselors, & Youth Organizations

1.  Common Sense Media - Common Sense Media -  "K -12 Digital Citizenship Program"    
This is an outstanding comprehensive program!   The lessons plans are beautifully designed and created to  meet the learning needs of all children.  This curriculum is also aligned with the Common Core (if this is important to you). Howard Gardner, father of  Theory of Multiple Intelligences and the Harvard University School of Education, developed these materials.

Common Sense Media also has just offered lesson plans designed specifically to address cyber bullying!

*All materials are FREE.

2.  Operation Respect  - "Don't Laugh At Me"  - K - Adult Social Emotional Learning 
This is an empathy-based curriculum and also aligned with the Common Core Standards.  Peter Yarrow (of "Peter, Paul & Mary" folk group from the 60's) is the founder and creator.  Peter had been an advocate of the anti-bullying movement for over 20 years!  This curriculum has strong cross- curricular and interdisciplinary applications.

Although is program is great for all students, I think it is well-suited for our special needs populations and/or students who really thrive in an extremely nurturing learning environment.

*All  materials are FREE!

Both programs can be easily integrated into
 your homeroom class, advisory period, youth group or club!

In conclusion, there are many other valuable resources available.  First, however, it is important for each school, organization, community, and families, etc. to conduct an honest assessment of its current reality - its climate (what individuals are feeling) and its culture (why individuals are feeling as they do)- and secondly, identify its desired state. Establish a strategic plan for reaching your desired state, and then begin to implement programs which will bring about the kinds of healthy lasting change best suited for your needs.

This takes courage and this takes commitment. It takes a team effort! 
Consider calling on the experts to help!They are ready and willing to guide your process!

There is HELP and HOPE!
In a clip from the Anti-Bullying Conference, you are invited to learn about...

Protection: What are a few tools for parents/guardians? What can we do as a "team"?
Intervention: What symptoms/risk factors to look for with cyber bully and cyber victim? 
What area few strategic steps to intervene effectively?
Prevention: What is the root cause of cyber bullying? What can we do to prevent this? 
There is HOPE!

Let's reconnect - FACE TO FACE!
Together, we can make a difference!
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Friday, June 24, 2016

Cyber Bully-Proof Your Home - 5 Steps Parents Need To Know and Take!

One in three children is cyber bullied in his or her online life. Daily, countless youth are the targets of chronic humiliation, aggression, and abuse perpetrated through different kinds of electronic communication. Often, parents/guardians don't know their children are being cyber bullied, and /or don't find out until harm has occurred or until the situation has reached a crisis situation. Enough is enough!  It is time to cyber bully-proof your home!

                                   There are 5 steps parents need to  know and take – now!

Safety First!
First: Parents and Guardians, you must establish a Family Online Agreement.  This is mandatory! This is a contract between you and your children that establishes rules and expectations about their online behavior.  At the same time, the contract makes clear what the parents’ roles and responsibilities are.  As children age and demonstrate maturity with their online behavior, the agreement can be amended or changed.  An excellent example of a contract can be downloaded from 

Second: Implement quick and practical Safety Measures. Once you turn over a piece of technology to your children, you must implement four safety measures.  One, protect passwords by teaching children not to share them. Two, protect profiles by teaching children to limit the amount and kinds of information they post online. Three, obtain filtering and monitoring software. And fourth, monitor your children’s online reputation!  Yes, monitor them!  Parents, you are not snooping or invading your children’s privacy. You are protecting them – that is your job. 

Know your children's Net Neighborhood.

Thirdly: Get to know your children’s Net Neighborhood.  When our children start to become social, responsible parents typically want to know three things: where are their children going; who are they going with; and what are they going to be doing? Whether it is in their real life or their online life, children can easily be put in danger. Sit down with your children and get to know their Net Neighborhood! Find out where they are spending time and with whom!  Talk with them; learn from them; and teach them what is safe and what is not.

Fourth: Prepare a Crises Plan.  If your child is being cyber bullied, take three steps. (1) STOP and do not respond to the behavior. (2) SAVE and PRINT OUT the cyber bullying message.  (3) Children need to SHARE the information with trusted adults and parents need to REPORT it to proper authorities (if necessary). Also, if your children are being cyber bullied to the degree that they are in serious or constant danger and/ or that they feel hopeless or helpless, implement a crises plan.  First, make sure that your children know they are SAFE.  Second, SURROUND THEM WITH SUPPORT. Third, many victims respond well when they learn STRONG SOCIAL SKILLS. (For More information on this, pick up a copy of  Cyber Bullying No More: Parenting A High Tech Generation ).

Fifth: Insist on Cyber Balance.  This may sound weird or foreign. Parents, it is vital that children and adults spend time together without their technology. We must insist on cyber balance in our lives. Why? Because the only way to experience empathy for another human being and understand the impact our words or actions have on another person is to spend time together – FACE TO FACE. Parents, you  must  model compassionate, respectful, kind and giving behavior! Remember, our behaviors teach them and influence more than we know!

Talk. Listen. Share.
Before we conclude, parents/guardians, if your child is cyber bullying others, please implement the following three strategies or what I call the "3 C's":

Contract. If you child is cyber bullying, this demonstrates a lack of responsibility in proper usage of his/her technology.  If a Family Online Safety Contract  is not already in place, implement one.  If one is in place, reinforce and/or amend the rules and expectations.  Talk about what is appropriate behavior and what is not.  A “time-out” or “limiting time” from technology is sensible.  However, without communication and ownership of wrong-doing, it does little to change behavior.

Consequences: Consequences should be reasonable and in-line with the degree of offense. Research supports that making meaningful amends to the victim or implementing restorative justice measures benefits both the bully and the victim. Avoid punishment for punishment sake or taking away technology altogether. This does nothing to change behaviors or attitudes.

Counsel and Connect: Many cyber bullies demonstrate a lack of regard or respect for the well-being of others. In short, they lack empathy. Through counseling or other empathy-building groups (such as youth groups, clubs, teams) or gatherings (such as family time, celebrations, holidays), purposefully integrate exercises and activities into your routines or practices which promote kindness, mutual respect, and compassion for one another.When children learn how to connect with the feelings of others, they are more likely to value them. 

Building Connections!
Parents and Guardians, this may sound like a lot of work, but as I often say…

”When it comes to our children, it is better to do the hard work up front 
than live with the heartache in the end”.  

For more valuable tools which are easy to implment, pick up your copy of... Cyber Bullying No More: Parenting A High Tech Generation

Please stop by Holli Kenley's Website   and like us @ Author Holli Kenley !
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Check out Holli's exciting new and empowering novel for tweens - teens  -
Another Way!

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Cyber Bullying - Let's Take A Look at What Is Going On!!

In an interview on AZTV's Morning Scramble, Holli discusses cyber bullying with Sandy Moss and Tanya Mock. Why is it becoming so "easy" to inflict harm on another individual? What can we do to prevent this from getting worse? You are invited to take a watch and a listen!

  Pick up your copy on Amazon - Cyber Bullying No More!  
Start protecting your family now!

For more tools and tips, visit Holli Kenley!

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