Sunday, May 29, 2016

Don't take the hate bait - conservative or liberal

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,
My friend told me to write you and I don’t know why because I’m not sure you can understand what it’s like now for teens and you’re conservative, mom said.

I was reading about girls who committed suicide because I always think about suicide because I’ve been bullied since I was 10 because I’m adopted and look Asian, but I’m a lot of races.

I’m small and called a boy or a “lesbo.” I’ve been slapped, and was pushed into a bathroom stall and girls from another school pulled most of my clothes off to see if I’m a real girl (they laughed when I cried).

My parents are forcing me to go to a public high school after being at small liberal private schools. My parents want me to experience the “real world.”

I already know “real” because I thought I had a boyfriend to prove I’m not gay and I’ve been drinking and doing drugs.

My boyfriend who just used me and pretends to be a good Christian and a conservative, tells everyone how I look like a boy and said racist stuff. I got mad and told him I hated him and to stop sending pictures of me and talking about me and sending me like a hundred texts calling me names. He told me I was ugly and pathetic and he has a gun I should use to blow my useless self away.

I read about another girl who shot herself and she was super smart, athletic, sweet and loved horses just like me.

I am super nice, but I can’t stop hating them.

So how do I go to school? No one will stop them! My grandma tells me to just keep being sweet and not to worry. She says they hate themselves. No! They hate me.

Signed,
Not a Hippie Lesbo

Dear Smart, Nice, Athletic, Animal-Loving Young Lady,


First off: Right and wrong are not conservative or liberal! Haters are haters!

Secondly: We are an advice/ opinion column for all: young, old, conservative, liberal.

Right at the end of your letter, you identified so many positive things about yourself. We are so happy you have seeds of a promising sense of self-worth.

Your feelings are nearly touchable to us. You have powerful emotions and hunger for goodness, love, understanding and truth. You have the light of Christ inside your heart, but at this moment, in your pain, you have put a padlock and chain around it to protect it from getting hurt.

But your fierce and angry protection is making it hurt worse. You can only protect it by freeing it.

We want to help you enhance and define your sense of worth. Hate produces seriously damaging and painful feelings, thoughts, and words. It’s a catalyst of irreversible actions such as suicide, scars (inside and outside of your body) and never-ending heartache.

Recognize - You must not become a hater of Christians or liberals or conservatives because of misguided and abhorrent examples of others. There isn’t anything Christian or liberal or conservative about hating, judging, lying, accusing, mistreating and abusing or bullying another precious creation of God – You!

Realize - The hate of your peers comes from easily (and, unfortunately, sometimes familiar home behavior) chosen bully pathways of judging, criticizing, one-upping, hurting and … the worst … making fun of someone who can’t be easily defined in their small, small world. You are fabulously unique and different.

Radiate and don’t Retaliate (against anyone or yourself) – Forgive and be grateful that you are a person who cares!

Revolt – Sex, drugs and hate will ruin you!

Start leading by example … you can be the revolution this world needs NOW!

Signed,
Rhonda and Dr. Cheri


Sunday, May 22, 2016

Modesty counts

Dear Readers,
We have received many comments about our last column: “slut-shaming.”

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,
I’m a dad. All my girls (three of them) dress with bra straps hanging out, pants too tight, skirts too short, and underwear that is, as the late John Ritter said, “floss.”

I had discussions with them about it and they started crying and saying I was mean and that every girl dresses like this and it means nothing. It’s just fashion. I countered with the fact that boys don’t dress where you see all their private parts. That just made them more angry.

Their mom lets them run to her and be consoled. So I’m the bad guy. I give up.

My youngest has been called a slut, whore, and you name it recently. She laughs it off. Please tell her that not everything is funny in life and some things are sacred, virtuous, and good.

How do I tell her she needs more in her life than so-called “fashion” to feel true happiness?

Signed,
Dad With Kids Who Think Fashion Is A Purpose In Life

Dear Dad,
We do empathize with you. We’re proud of you for stepping up to the plate and being a real dad. You’re a dad who coaches for all the right reasons and you make sense.

Take these few questions to your girls (including Mom) and ask for some time without distractions – and that means no phones – to discuss the following.

Preface your discussion with the realization that what you wear or don’t wear never makes you a slut or whore or any such vile label – rather it makes you feel self-worth and dignified:

Why is it important for you to show your underwear, midriff, half your rear-end, and your breasts and wear extremely tight clothing?

Who notices your private parts showing and what reaction do they have? Who makes sexual insinuations?

Who invites you out? Who asks you about your hobbies, family, activities, thoughts, values or ideas – and who doesn’t?

When you dress sloppy and “sexy,” do you feel good about your values and virtues? When do you talk about important things like your hopes, dreams, and core beliefs and values?

Where is a good place to show your body parts and how sexy you are? Have you sent nude or partially nude pictures to anyone? Do you know the majority of what you send is shown to 15 others? Do you know that employers look at your Facebook account? Do you know SnapChat pictures don’t always go away … certainly not in the 6 seconds the site advertises? Where do you feel safe?

What is your goal in sharing your intimate and cherished body to others (no matter if you have had sex in any way, shape or form – or not)? What positive and intelligent feedback do you receive regarding how “hot” you look? Is being hot an essential and important goal? Being famous is the No. 1 goal of many girls today.

USA Today reported a while back:
“Eighty-one percent of 18- to 25-year-olds surveyed in a Pew Research Center poll … said getting rich is their generation’s most important or second-most-important life goal; 51 percent said the same about being famous.”

The most important question today for your kids and “our” kids:

How is being famous going to make you genuine, real, never-let-you-down friends, without buying them or bribing them with things, amusement activities and sex? Fame for the wrong reasons – or no reason at all – is not a plus, and those who gain it quickly often become a joke.

Creating healthy relationships is all you can take with you when you die.

Style is external plus internal. It matches distinct and honorable personalities. Fashions come and go and are frequently entertaining. There’s a big difference. Everyone needs style to express their principled personalities in an appropriate and non-distracting way.

Don’t give up, Dad! Have weekly family meetings and include fun activities after serious life discussions. We promise you, from our experience, kids are hungry for this high-quality attention.

Signed,
Rhonda and Dr. Cheri

Don’t forget to check out our newly re-designed website – it has lots of resources you can use and includes our podcasts! Go to www.rhondastopbullying.org

Sunday, May 15, 2016

‘Slut-shaming’ has lasting impacts

Dear Rhonda & Dr. Cheri:
When I was in high school, I used to have to wear dresses to school until the whole dress code was dropped and suddenly we could wear anything to school. So I wore a midriff top with jeans one day shortly after that. It was the same way I dressed with my friends after school and on the weekends. My girlfriends didn’t say anything about it because they wore similar outfits.

Those same friends started whispering that I was a slut when a popular guy, who one of my friends liked, said I dressed like a slut at school. That girl started dressing more modestly after that and completely ditched me and threw me under the bus. Just me! The other girls she hung around with once in a while. All of my friends stopped being my friend. Everyone at school thought I was a slut and I was still a virgin.

Fast-forward to today. I have a daughter myself now.

I came back from a trip and she was so despondent because her “friend” started texting her and telling her she was getting a reputation for being a “slut” because she dresses too sexy. My daughter is beautiful. I went ballistic that this “slut-stuff” is still going on!

My daughter then told me that she was slut-shamed when she was 11 years old because she was thin and wore cute clothes. Her friend was gaining a lot of weight. My daughter said it almost ruined her life. She said she has been depressed ever since then and she has been suicidal.

I don’t understand why she never told me. We have always been open. All that time I could have helped. Now she’s suicidal. I’m so angry at this ancient name calling – slut-shaming – to shame women is still going on!

What’s wrong with people? It’s horrible.

Signed,
“Slut-shamed” girls

Dear Girls,

Slut-shaming is the worst and, recently, the most common type of bullying. It is gossiping at its very worst. It’s humiliating, often untrue, and degrading. We agree with you – one hundred percent – that this rampant name-calling is epidemic and wrong.

Girls and women, mostly, decide they aren’t worth anything when peers, friends, parents, teachers, boyfriends, sisters and/or brothers slut-shame them.

It does not matter if the rumor is true or not – this particular name-calling becomes a stigma the moment it is attached to someone – the victims start to self-harm, go into depression (and many other trauma-induced behaviors) and attempt or commit suicide.

This type of sexual bullying is like pouring oil all over someone. Once it’s done, it can’t be undone very easily or quickly … if ever.

Jealousy is often the reason that such a traumatic and horrid offense is committed. Revenge is another excuse for the tragedy of sexually tarnishing another person. There isn’t one reason or excuse that this type of name-calling could be acceptable by a civil society.

Slut-shaming can easily define someone if the victim doesn’t know how to move on to the next step of being a survivor and then a good leader.

As ghastly as slut-shaming is, you, “mom,” are a shining example of someone who was a victim and became a survivor by changing your circumstances, deciding to be the one who defines yourself (not letting anyone else define you) and victoriously becoming a great mom and professional leader. You are the epitome of our Triangle of Triumph!

Since you and your daughter have an open and close relationship, help her to follow in your footsteps and don’t allow yourself to slip into your past angst. You’ve come too far. Congratulations! We have faith you may lead your daughter along the same great pathway.

Signed,
Rhonda and Dr. Cheri

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Having style isn't stupid

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,

My daughter, Lisa (not her real name) is in eighth grade. Lisa is a pretty girl. She’s tall, lanky, has big green eyes and has beautiful long blonde hair.

We’re from California and the kids in her private school there were trendy but neat, clean, and looked put-together. Lisa (and her older sisters) wore uniforms and the school had rules about how the uniforms had to be ironed, tucked in, clean, and in good condition.

Uniforms helped keep the kids focused on their school work. They had zero tolerance for bullying. They weren’t allowed to chew gum!

When my husband and I saw your column about having cell-phone free zones at school, we remembered that Lisa wasn’t allowed to have a cell phone at her former school. Now she has it 24/7 and she’s a bully.

She uses her phone to take pictures of well-dressed kids and then mocks them on Facebook. We grounded her from her phone, but we can’t do that forever.

Lisa tells me, “I don’t think everyone should care so much about ‘stuff.’ They need to care about feelings and making everything a better place without war and important things like that.”

She says this is stupid. Lisa gets mad when I tell her something doesn’t match, is too tight or revealing. When I ask why she doesn’t care about her appearance, she replies with a stern look.

Signed,
Mom of a Hot Mess

Dear Mom,


No one can “make” anyone do anything; however, you should take Lisa’s phone away from usage at school, at least until she understands she’s bullying. A phone is a privilege, not an entitlement.

Please tell Lisa that we appreciate who you are and your good values regarding the “things that matter most.”

We applaud your desires to make the world a better place. You’re intelligent enough to know it’s best to have a world without war and a place where people care the most about each others’ hearts more than “stuff.” These are mature and wonderful dreams for you to work on.

But, you may not bully others you don’t agree with because they don’t agree with you. Do you know bullying is against the law?

It’s human nature to use our aesthetic, artistic, and visual instincts to decide how we feel about what we see.

In fact, visual impressions used to be made by people within 20 seconds! Today, in our harsh and judgmental culture, it’s takes only eight seconds to be criticized on our socio-economic, religious, intellectual, popularity, values, talents, virtue, behavior, and vulnerability.

Lisa, the most important reason to choose to be well groomed, clean, put-together, and have a distinctive style, which is consistent with who you are internally, is to focus on yourself first (to define yourself) and then turn it to focus on others; taking action on the “things that matter the most.”

So, if you care enough about you and your life to create a visually pleasing environment and presentation of yourself, you will give off your true compassion and passion to help others do good-hearted things too. You’ll be a strong and authentic leader that others will admire … instead of being a distraction of a hot mess.

Don’t betray yourself by being consumed with how everyone else “should” understand what matters most according to you. Don’t betray yourself by being bitter and bullying those who don’t agree with you. Be responsible with your cell phone or your parents should take away your phone “forever.” It’s not an entitlement, it’s a privilege.

Being a bully is probably not how you envision yourself. If you know what matters most, live it and show it in your appearance and behavior. You’ll make life more beautiful for yourself and others around you.

BTW: Chewing gum is distracting and looks careless.

Signed,
Rhonda and Dr. Cheri

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Phones must not be used as a weapon

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,

Your last column was about how kids should report bullying to an adult until something is done. You went so far as to suggest that the victims should go to the police if a “trusted” adult doesn’t do anything.

Here’s the problem from a teacher’s perspective. Two things happen most often when a kid reports bullying:

One – The teacher, principal or someone from the school has a nice sit-down “talk” with the victim and the bully, and hopefully the parents. However, that usually causes the victim to be double-bullied. Once for whatever the original reason might have been. Then they are double-bullied for being a tattle-tale.

Two – The bully becomes more aggressive, especially because the bully gets more of an audience when the victim reports the bullying. Even teachers will gossip about how the victim just wants attention and drama.

The bottom line is “report – report – report” doesn’t work. It causes more problems for the victim.

Another problem happens if the kids who are with the bully “stands up instead of standing by” is that kid will now be ostracized and probably bullied. So now there’s two victims, the one who was bullied and the one who “stands up.”

So what is the real answer?

Signed,
Teacher of Bullies and Victims

Dear Teacher,


Our culture has to change.

Each person needs to make sure they develop an identity with our 5 C’s :

Civility – good manners – which is defined by being considerate of others;

Courage – moral strength to do something that’s difficult or dangerous;

Confidence – faith in yourself and Christ … or your religious belief … self-reliance, assurance, conviction, trust and poise that you may succeed in making the right choices and actions;

Creativity – a most important value where we dare to do our best with our own uniqueness, individuality, and feelings of great self-worth; and,

Carriage – Having tall stature and strong, yet graceful, demeanor in the way we carry our bodies.

Our society needs to wake up and see the harm that rudeness, gossip, bickering, one-upping and vicious “just kidding” is causing. Real relationships with real goodness and real care needs to replace the fake identities that come with social media.

As child advocates, we have asked our communities to seriously consider keeping cell phones out of schools where most of the mentioned harm takes place.

We do not normally mention a product, however, this is the only one we know about that does a remarkable thing … “Yondr” blocks the usage of cell phones.

Why is that important? Cell phone usage by students has become a compulsive habit for most users. Cell phones have replaced real relationships and created more damage than the benefit they are meant to be. Kids and teens are not learning how to build communication and relationships.

In a school setting, smart phones have often become a crutch, an “invisibility cloak,” a deterrent to meaningful relationships and decent, caring, and purposeful communication.

We talked with the CEO of Yondr, Graham Dugoni, for a recent podcast and his phone blocking system is already used at concerts, comedy shows, performances fashioning phone-free zones to maintain authenticity, privacy, and a non-distracting environment.

We think this is the perfect answer for education to thrive and for students to experience real life in a good environment.

So, our answer to bullying, which is known to incite suicide, depression, anxiety, and much more destruction to our children, is creating healthy and real relationships. Healthy relationships matter the most. This has to be done without a crutch like phones. Phones must not be used as a weapon to bully any one any more.

FYI: Go to our website for more information on bullying, life and stuff.

Signed,
Rhonda and Dr. Cheri