Sunday, April 24, 2016

Report-report-report bullying!

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,
Someone told me to write to you because you can maybe help my friend. She is always hanging around a crowd of kids at school who don’t like her and they aren’t nice to her. Then she comes and tells us. Usually she starts crying and asks, “Why are they so mean to me.”

We’re in 6th grade. Three of us have been together since like first grade.

My other friend and I have told her that those girls aren’t nice to her and ask why she cares. We don’t care what they think about us.

But this last time, one of those girls, told my friend that she’s such a slut. My friend hasn’t even ever kissed anyone. But we’ve heard stuff about this girl. A lot of stuff.

Then she whispered (but we all heard it), why don’t you go kill yourself, loser!

My friend told us that girl was just kidding. We think that girl is a bully to everyone and she keeps get-ting away with it. I want to tell my friend’s mom, because she’s my mom’s friend too. But I don’t want my friend not to like me anymore because we’ve been friends forever.

Friends Forever!

Dear Friend,

First off, you are a very good and loyal friend. Others with less integrity might be jealous or angry that their friend wants to be friends with new and different girls.

We recognize your care, confidence and courage … Two of our 5 C’s – Civility, Courage, Confidence, Creativity, and Carriage.

Your friend is exploring other relationships because she knows that she is safe to investigate other personalities at school and you will still be good and caring to her no matter what. That’s called unconditional friendship and love. She is blessed to have you!

We think, since you and your other good friend have already been very supportive of your friend, you could say, “We are sad and worried that you defend and explain your life to someone who hides behind damaging ‘jokes’ to hurt you. So we wrote to Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri.

“Please don’t be mad and read this:”

Rhonda and Dr. Cheri would like you to not respond, defend, and/ or explain yourself to girls who would bully you so severely.

Stand tall and don’t approach the bullies. Have strong, but not angry or hurtful eye contact. Don’t express any feelings, good or bad, and show the bully a neutral or blank face. Your unresponsive behavior will be unexpected. You will feel powerful.

Report-report-report this bully-girl and her friends (people who stand by and don’t stand up to bullies are participants). Keep reporting to a trusted adult until someone does something to help you and the bullies. Bullies count on you to NOT report them!

Their “joking” phrases can lead you into deep depression, sadness, loneliness and damage your self-worth. You could (after enough badgering) decide your life doesn’t mean anything and decide to kill yourself.

You are blessed to have good and true friends and family who love and care about you.

Stop trying to change people who don’t care about your feelings into people who do care — such as the true friends you have now.

There’s unlimited room in everyone’s lives to add good friends, but remember best friends are hard to find.

Rhonda and Dr. Cheri

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Anorexia is nothing to joke about

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri.

Our daughter told us around Thanksgiving that her best friend said she was getting too fat. Jenna (not her real name), is only 10 years old.

Jenna is short for her age and plays soccer and does gymnastics. She isn’t and hasn’t ever been overweight. Her older sister is overweight and Jenna has said to us that she doesn’t want to get as fat as her sister is. We have not said much to her older sister, except we said she needs to eat healthy foods first.

Her best friend has been texting Jenna and saying, you’re so fat, you should go to a fat camp. Then her friend says, “I’m just kidding Jenna. I wish I was as skinny as you.”

I took Jenna to gymnastics yesterday (her father takes her because I’m usually working during her class times) and when I saw her bones sticking out around her collar-bone, I almost gasped. I guess I didn’t notice how much weight she has lost since Thanksgiving!

My husband said I shouldn’t worry about her. He didn’t agree with me that she’s too skinny. He said,”She’ll be fine. It’s just a girl thing.”
I said she has to have an eating disorder and we need to take her to a therapist or something. What do you think?

Anorexic Daughter?

Dear Mom,

“Jenna” is most likely struggling with an eating disorder and needs to be seen by her doctor and a therapist. It’s a good idea for all of you to be involved with her therapy and treatment so Jenna understands that you are, as a family, serious about helping her.

The sooner, the better! The earlier Jenna has treatment, the quicker she’ll be able to gain her emotional and physical health back.

Have a family meeting and be direct with your daughters and husband. You are the only person who recognizes Jenna has an eating disorder. It’s not a fa├žade. It’s certainly not a joke.

Please sit Jenna’s friend down with you to discuss the possibility of Anorexia Nervosa and the seriousness of her health condition. It’s not a fad, or a phase, or “a girl thing.”

It’s real, complicated, and not a lifestyle choice. She needs professional help. We can’t stress it enough. Please ask her friend to understand that being jealous of Jenna isn’t something anyone would want.
People can and do die from this eating disorder and it’s nothing to ever joke about.

Joking about eating disorders is the same as joking about mental disorders. There isn’t anything amusing about starving yourself. Here are some serious medical statistics to discuss with Jenna, her friend and your family:

• Almost 70 percent of American elementary school girls, say magazines and social media pictures sway their concept of their ideal body shape. Almost half say the pictures make them want to lose weight.
• 42 percent of first- through third-grade girls want to be thinner.
• One-quarter of elementary girls diet on a regular basis.
• 81 percent of 10 year olds are afraid of being fat

We, as a culture, need to decide what type of an example we want to be for our children.

We, adults, need to stop focusing on our appearance as much as we do. We can wake up and get ready for the day and then change our focus from ourselves to others. Let’s not take up any more mental space throughout the rest of the day.

We also need to set an example regarding the seriousness of different situations and remember, saying “J/K” does NOT make it OK.

Rhonda and Dr. Cheri

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Smartphones at school are a dumb idea

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,

I read your answer about not using smartphones at school. My daughter is a high school junior and there’s no way she wouldn’t use her phone or bring it with her. She schedules everything on it and calls her job on it. If I need her to go home and take the dog out, I can call her. Even her teachers will tell her to look info up on her phone. The whole class!

So I’m sorry to tell you this, but it’s unrealistic to ask that of students. I wouldn’t be able to enforce it.

Oh, and what about an emergency? With all the bombing going on in Europe and the Middle East?!

Signed, Yes-smartphones at school

Dear Yes,

Thank you for writing. We want more comments from our community regarding smartphones at school.

We believe today’s parents need to reign in the indulging privileges and entitlement they give the teenagers as they are not adults. It is a parents’ responsibility to teach their teen what is expected behavior for their safety and protection. You are the parent and you are responsible for your daughter.

As far as “the whole class” using their phones, it’s unfortunate that’s society entertains the belief that teachers should be asking that of their students for a couple of reasons:

• Not every student can afford a phone and that will draw attention to those students who will likely be bullied by someone at sometime for being different and poor.

• We have many teachers tell us about cheating in class and say they can’t stop it when so many phones are out and being used (even when told not to).

(On the other hand, we have had teachers object to our efforts to have phones at school because they don’t have the resources they need for their students at school. To be blunt, that’s not our problem.)

In fact, here are some statistics on cell phones at school:

The #1 reason students want phones at school is to cheat on quizzes and tests. (And don’t kid yourself – they’re very inventive at ways to avoid being caught.)

The #2 reason students want phones at school is because they get bored in class and so they play games or look up something amusing- this causes real distractions from learning and lowers the students’ learning. Texting also encourages “shorthand” which is the opposite of correct spelling and grammar (and don’t get us started on vocabulary).

The #3 reason students want phones is cyberbullying.

Over 80 percent of teens use a cell phone regularly, making it the most popular form of technology and a common medium for cyberbullying.

About half of young people have experienced some form of cyberbullying, and 10 to 20 percent experience it regularly.

More than 1 in 3 young people have experienced cyberthreats online.

Well over half of young people do not tell their parents when cyberbullying occurs.

Fewer than 1 in 5 cyber bullying incidents are reported to law enforcement.

About 1 in 5 teens have posted or sent sexually suggestive or nude pictures of themselves to others.

Hurtful comments, damaging lies, and spreading rumors are the most common type of cyberbullying students engage in at school.

Phones are not necessary for emergencies at schools. All schools have emergency policies and procedures in place for emergencies.

Phones are distracting and damaging tools for students’ mind, soul, and body.

Convenience isn’t a reason to have the students utilize their phones and it’s not worth the damage it causes our nation’s youth.

Signed, Rhonda and Dr. Cheri

Sunday, April 3, 2016

The Bullied Unsexy Clown

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,

I have three best friends from when we were all little. We grew up together and now we are seniors and they have all treated me so badly this year!

It started around Halloween. I couldn’t decide what costume I wanted to do. So I sent pictures to one of my friends, Jane, with different outfits like an Egyptian, then one like Taylor Swift (they always say that I look like her). Then I sent a picture of me looking kind-of like a sexy clown.

Jane made fun of all of them and sent them to my other two friends. She showed the sexy clown to my mom.

My mom got mad at me and told me “You should know better than that” right in front of Jane. So she started saying that to me every day in front of everyone. She started showing that picture to the whole school. It was embarrassing!  I didn’t want to go to school, but my mom made me.

And now, Jane told a guy I’m dating and in love with, that he should watch out, because I’m very insecure and needy.

Then she also told him that he better make sure I don’t get pregnant because he would be “stuck” with me forever (we don’t even really have sex). He told me all of this! He told me to stop worrying about Jane and we should just have fun with graduation and stuff.

He doesn’t understand. I just want to die and forget about everyone. I don’t trust anyone.

Unsexy Clown

Dear Sue
(not your name but we aren’t going to ascribe a hurtful signature to you, as you did),

We know you are hurting and you aren’t alone. Too many kids feel unloved and not liked. In fact, you may have heard that 160,000 kids stay home from school every day because someone is bullying them.

Jane has her own problems with how she feels about herself. She is not ready or doesn’t want to take a look at herself and decide who she is. She is envious of you and focusing on bullying you.

Jane will make her choices and you cannot let them decide who you are. That’s your job.

Part of your sadness may be from losing someone you trusted and counted on for years. She will continue victimizing you until you make a choice to not stay a victim.

We’ve said many times, you don’t choose to be a victim, however, you may choose to not stay a victim, stuck under her control and meanness.

Grieving any loss — and you have lost your friends — requires going through the five stages of grief and empowering yourself to not stay a victim.

Here they are:

Denial- We know it’s most hurtful to be betrayed by longtime friends or family. We want
you to say to yourself every single morning, “I am worthy of being loved” (if you believe in God).  Pray as you say this: “I am a child of God and He loves me.”
Anger- Anger is a result of extreme and painful hurt. Try screaming into a pillow every morning and night or pretend to chop wood. Then write your feelings down, then tear them up and  MOST IMPORTANTLY – flush them down the toilet.
Bargaining- Bargaining is trying to avoid changing and growing outside of your victimhood. It doesn’t work.
Depression- Start rewarding yourself for getting through Denial, Anger, and Bargaining! Do nice things for you!
Acceptance- Forgive and serve others with random acts of kindness. Write notes of gratitude or take treats for your family. Focus on others and you will start feeling good about who you are. Define yourself through our 5 C’s –Civility, Courage, Confidence, Creativity, and strong Carriage. Stand tall!

Remember, our Triangle of Triumph™ (Victim-to-Survivor-to-Leader) is a process. Be patient with yourself but count on yourself. We believe in you. Make sure to believe in yourself and find your own ethics and values.

Rhonda and Dr. Cheri