Tuesday, February 24, 2015

She's the bully, right?

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,                                

Jody was my best friend since first grade. We did everything together. We had birthday parties together. We went to the same schools until this year when her mom put her into a charter high school. She’s really smart. She’s really pretty. She always told me I was pretty, too.

She started to be friends with these two other girls and some boys too at her new school. I left text messages and called and she answered one time and said she’d call me right back.

Then my so-called best friend thought she hung up but I heard her say to her new friends that I was just her loser, fat, dumb friend. She never called me back.

So I said some mean things and secrets I knew about her on Facebook. Then she started texting bad pictures of me and a few went to a guy she knows I really like since like third grade.

Now Jody acts like she is the one who is so hurt and is turning everyone against me. I am laughed at and I’ve been tripped and stuff like that, on purpose, at school. Girls in our dance classes are whispering about me. Everybody hates me but she was the one who was mean to me first.

I don’t know why I even care. No one cares about me. I just stay home and read and then I get really angry all over again. I feel like I’m going to explode!!! I just want to go over there and tell her off for being a mean girl or bully or whatever!

She’s The Bully, Right?

Dear She’s The Bully,

Yes, your long time friend was mean and betrayed you. Jody abandoned you when you felt really secure about her care, loyalty, and friendship. You were caught off guard about one of your most important relationships and you’re experiencing a huge loss.

You have a right to feel mad and hurt. You did not deserve her bullying antics. On the other hand, you decided to eavesdrop on a conversation which was not for you to listen to and could have been in a context not even meant for you. You did set yourself up to interpret it for face value. Then you chose to react impulsively on it. You may have taken time to cool down and deal with her directly about what you heard and how it hurt you.
Revenge and payback are never answers to bullying. You may have already realized that you are a sensitive, kind and gentle person. It seems your choice to impulsively give Jody payback isn’t within your true defining ethics.

Now, you need to make up your mind to care about yourself by:
•    Have a planned pity-party and scream into a pillow, thirty minutes a day for a week.
•    Follow our Triangle of Triumph™ and decide to move away from being a victim.
•    Stop isolating yourself with books and stop hiding at home.
•    Be a survivor: Define Yourself Before Others Do™ with new talents such as kickboxing, sports, and/ or theater. Commit to it for six months.
•    Become a leader by being a good example of forgiving (not condoning) Jody.
And, now, care about your friend:
•    Write an apology letter to Jody and simply say you are sorry without shaming and blaming her. Don’t expect a response back from Jody—that’s okay.

Stop Bullying and Start Leading! You deserve the best!

Rhonda and Dr. Cheri

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The teacher bullied my daughter

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,                                                  

My daughter is a high-functioning girl with autism. She is a tall and pretty eleven-year- old girl. She goes to a public school because I believe special needs children need to learn how to deal with the “real world.”

We have moved a lot and the kids always bully “the new girl” even when they know she is challenged. I have been there when food was thrown at our backs.

I have been so angry that I have stormed into the schools and told them it is against the law to bully. The school principals try to placate me. They told me they have experience in dealing with this all the time.

I had one vice-principal tell me that it is a normal problem when the stronger kids pick on the weaker kids. He wouldn’t even use the word bullying.

Now a teacher bullied my daughter by telling her that she is pretty, but she’s still stupid. She gave my daughter a “D” on a story she wrote and read to the class because, “You are smart enough to read faster and make your reading more interesting to listen to.”

The teacher denied saying this but the other special needs kids repeated the same story as my daughter. However, the school district said they couldn’t use their testimonies because they were special needs kids!

We took her out of the school and started homeschooling her but she is so depressed. I don’t know what to do?

Teacher Bullied My Daughter

Dear Teacher Bullied My Daughter,

First off – bullying is not normal.

Secondly - girls who are attractive (special needs or not) are frequently bullied as a punishment from envious and insecure kids. Typically, special needs kids become sexually active early on as a way to gain attention and what they might mistake to be nurturing and love. Gently talk with her about this issue now before she makes any decisions concerning sex.

Children who move often are bullied just for being the new kid on the block. I know you must be aware that it is difficult for children with autism to make changes and adjustments even when staying in one place.

There’s no excuse for teachers who bully anyone, much less a special needs student.

The rest of the student and community population witnessing the teachers’ bullying behaviors will either acquire an increase of empathy or an increase in their own bullying towards special needs students. Either way, such teachers are to be held accountable and disqualified from teaching at any school – period.

If you have the means to hire a child advocate, it would the best answer for your daughter. A child advocate is trained to deal with the bureaucracy of the educational system and the legal system. A child advocate has resources for testing the child and getting the right therapy which can help her heal. They can also help with social skills by having her attend group therapy. A child advocate knows the schools in your area and will help you specifically.     

You might try initiating a unique approach at her school, modeled after one in Arizona, where children who are good leaders of civility mentor special needs children by walking them to classes, bringing them to sit with their group of friends during lunch, inviting them to social activities and following through with those invitations. Mentoring is always good for all involved.      

One suggestion we have for you, as a frustrated and concerned parent, is to not “storm” into offices and demand anything. Show your daughter that you are an advocate of civility, courage, and confidence by demonstrating your inspired positive solutions.

She will then learn to love and accept herself as exceptional and deserving of respect because of your good example!

Let us know how your affirmative and great solutions work out for all of you!

Rhonda and Dr. Cheri

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Victim Bullying

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,                                                            

My son, Jeremy, was hit, dragged out of bed, forced to take cold showers and made to run a couple miles each day before school so he could be a great soccer player and pay for his “own damn school.” His dad would yell at him every single day, “Can’t you take it son – what’s wrong with you – you going to act like a baby and cry?" (This only happened once and Jerry never cried again.) 

Jerry recently started picking on his sister, Sarah. They are both in a small middle school here. Sarah has cried several times and runs into the bathroom. She says that she’s going to kill herself and she can’t take it anymore. So now she has her girlfriends teasing Jerry and telling him he doesn’t deserve to live and that the whole world would be better if he was dead because he’s so mean.

We have tried to talk with both of them and tell them to get along. Sarah throws a tantrum. She says we don’t understand how much he bullies her and that we don’t care about her.

Now Jeremy sulks around like a zombie and sleeps all day. His dad told him last night he better shape up and stop picking on his sister or else he would send him to live with a foster family. He calls him lazy and Jerry says, “Whatever.”

Sarah’s friends began bullying Jerry now and Sarah smirks about it. Jerry comes home and doesn’t do homework or study or anything really. He puts his I-Pod on and doesn’t come down for dinner. He’s loosing a lot of weight which causes his dad to tease him about that too.

Jerry posts horrible things about his life on You-Tube and Face Book so his dad said he couldn’t go on them anymore. Jerry ignored him and I’ve seen him on those websites and other sites that I don’t know what they are about. I try to hold him and say everything will be fine and that his dad doesn’t mean anything. Jerry acts like nothing’s happened and hardly talks to anyone or hang out with his friends. He lies to me about stupid stuff.

Last night he told me I won’t have to worry about him anymore. I’m scared he’ll run away. When I told his dad, his dad threatened Jerry again and grabbed his arm to tell him. Then he took Sarah to get ice cream right in front of Jeremy. Our son left and came home very late that night. I was scared for him but Jeremy didn’t look at me and went to bed.


My Son’s a Bully

Dear My Son is a Bully,

A couple of years ago, it became somewhat accepted that victims of bullying are at a higher risk of suicide. And yet most parents do not seem to know this information.

Both of your children are at risk for suicide because they are what we now call, “Bully Victims.” They were bullied by their father, then they bullied each other and now both of them are exhibiting signs of suicide. The #1 reason for any type of bullying=Revenge.

“Bully Victim” cycle in your family:

Father    Jeremy  ► Sarah    back to Jeremy

Victims of bullying usually choose one of these two behaviors: They stay a victim or they start bullying someone else – it’s the transmogrification of their horrible experiences.

Signs of suicidal behavior:

  1. Ongoing sadness
  2. Withdrawal from people and activities
  3. Little participation in their favorite activities, school, home life, and social life (which does not include social media … that might be increased)
  4. Sleeping or eating too much or too little
  5.  An increase interest in death or dying
  6. Little interest in their things … giving them away
  7. Expressing they “can’t handle it anymore”
  8. Life would be better off without them

You are passively participating in your husband’s bullying behavior by not speaking up for your children and stopping the behavior. However, even if you may not have realized it, you have the power to change your family and your family cyclical bullying and abuse by immediately taking their threats and behavior seriously and getting your children immediate help from a counselor, doctor, Emergency Room, Suicide Hotline-1.800.273.8255 … also keep weapons and prescription drugs away from your kids.

Statistic results from several recent studies:
Victims (Only)-Twice as likely to commit suicide as compared to kids not bullied
“Bully Victims”-Four times as likely to commit suicide compared to those not bullied

Acknowledge your children and let them know that they are being bullied. They need your validation and attention. They need your support, love, and care.

Rhonda and Dr. Cheri