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!
For more restorative tools, please visit Holli Kenley!
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