Everyone knows in recent years teenage bullying has escalated. Thanks to the internet the problem has gone from bad to worst. These days, the average age for a child to own a hand held device with access to the internet is about 8 years old. Statistics have shown that kids these days know more about technology and chat spaces than previous generations. We should be glad right?, wrong!.
We should celebrate the fact that our children have a better understanding of technology and can keep up with its fast development; but our celebration should be limited.
When it comes to our youth, the majority of their internet time revolves around social media. They spend countless hours building and developing virtual friendships, and chatting. Very seldom do we know see young minds spend time online in order to further develop their minds. Since our youth spend so much time online, they are exposed to an unrealistic expectative of our world. They are exposed to a society that promotes competition and will lead them to believe that the more they have, the better they are, or the more they spend on clothes and beauty products the more acceptable they will become. If we combined those unrealistic expectations, with the average family’s current cost of living; then you will notice the result is truly a recipe for disaster. In order to be able to provide/maintain a “suitable” life style for their kids, more and more parents spend more time working and less time with their children.
Many times a parent’s job is not limited to their place of work but is taken home, where kids are incentivised to spend more time chatting with their friends in order for parents to complete their tasks, or to have some “me” time. I am not in any way putting all the blame on parents. As a parent myself I know what it feels like to believe there are not enough hours during the day to complete all my tasks. I am writing to raise awareness of the sad state of affairs in which our kids are growing, how helpless one as a parent can feel, and perhaps how we should make changes in our life styles to better benefit the psychological growth of our youth.
Recently my 12 year old daughter was bullied relentlessly, not only on her school grounds, but more importantly online. I decided to limit her use and access to the internet, partly for her own safety but also because I would rather have her cultivate more time reading, using her imagination, playing sports. These however did not eradicate the problem, for although I can take the necessary precautions at home, I can not protect her while at school. Don’t get me wrong, by now the kids at my daughter’s school are quite aware that I will stand up for my child and make sure any type of bullying is dealt with. Unfortunately there are still plenty of opportunities for a child to get bullied no matter how much a parent may try to protect.
In the past few days I started noticing a change on my daughters behavior, which in turn made me pay even more attention to her narratives about her day at school and the stories her friend’s shared. Many of these stories left me sarcastically thinking “Is that a school or a jail?”, as I noticed the terrifying gang mentality which is fast growing in our schools. I realized more and more how many kids have lost their connection with their parents; their loyalty has grown more and more to their peers.
Bullying is achieved and maintained by offering friendship as a reward, instead of a natural estate of children’s interactions. While at school they can behave quite differently than they do at home; angry attitudes, are predominantly there. Lies and the maintaining of damaging secrets are rewarded while being truthful, trying to stand up, or seeking for help is punished by either alienation or bullying.
The saddest part of all these is the fact that some educators don’t seem to realize the severity of the problem.
It seems the lines have been blurred; more and more there is the believe that it’s more important not to mention certain patterns of behavior because “kids will be kids” or ” I am a teacher, so I know how to educate”. At other times they don’t want to incommode themselves or the children or they worry how it will reflect on them personally or the school.
Let me make something very clear, I have the outmost respect for educators who work together with parents and understand their job is to educate and expand minds, to instill a sense of discipline, not to take over the parent’s job. I respect educators who do not believe because they hold a degree they know better how to raise someone else’s kids. It is that attitude from some educators which is disturbing the natural order of things; psychologically causing an impact which is damaging to parents-children and society as a whole.
Many child psychologists have pointed out this fact, one of them being Dr. Gabo Mate; a leader in his field.
I have personally attended Dr. Mate’s seminars for educators and have heard him emphasize the importance of not disturbing the natural order of things. Why, may one ask?, because at the end it is the child’s instinct to want to bond with their parents, when denied this the child will try to bond with his peers, not with his teachers.
It is up to the teacher to decide whether he or she wants to be known and respected as a mentor and be a liaison between child and parent when needed, or to buy into the illusion that the child will go against his natural instincts and will subjugate to them over their parents.
Many times using the lack of communication between parent and teacher, the misguided child will take advantage of the educator’s desire to be the child’s confidant; leaving the child with a misguided feeling of power.
Again let me emphasize, not all educators act the same way; sadly however in recent years there has been a growing number in the breakdown of communication between parents and teachers; which has left some educators loosing sight of what is important and crossing the lines which instinctively have been there since the beginning of time.
I was witness once more to such blurred of the lines in the latest cyber bully case at my daughter’s school.
A couple of people in her classroom were relentlessly bullying the other kids, her being one of them. The whole class knew what was going on, except their teachers. The saddest part of the whole affair was to see how even though all kids knew what was happening and who was being targeted. They chose to keep quite out of fear than to face the ire of their peers; knowing that if they told, they would be consider traitors and the act of asking for help as one of cowardice. I have raised my daughters to be strong girls, who give their frank opinion, stand up for themselves and others; so what was happening in her class was severe enough as to scare even a strong spirited child such as herself. Thankfully I did notice the changes, and did not make the mistake to simply dismiss them as part of growing up. I talked with her and she confided in me, she then asked me to give her the opportunity to talk to her teachers privately about it. My child did come forward with what was happening in her classroom; the unbelievable part was that no parent was contacted in order to make them aware of the situation.
As a parent I was quite upset when my daughter mentioned a “chat” took place in order to deal with the situation (again I am not talking about your average child disagreement here, and still no parent was contacted). As a mother I felt the need to contact the school and to let them know such disturbing display of behavior needed to be brought up to the attention of parents; and either they were to do it or I would do it myself. I asked them how else is a parent supposed to protect one’s child if one has no idea of what is going on.
I am not in any way holding the school responsible for every time a disturbing behavior is displayed by children while in school grounds, but when it comes to the safety of a child; even more when the issue has been brought to light; it is then I believe educators need to step back and realize that parents need to be informed and involved.
A proper communication between educators and parents is very much needed. It is my believe that if many parents were to be informed properly about behavior that is damaging to one’s own child, they will make the choice to take responsibility for their part in protecting and guiding their child; if nothing else it helps alleviate the school’s responsibility in case something did go wrong and a child’s life was endangered.
I brought up these points to the school’s principal and thankfully we were able to see eye to eye on the manner. I was grateful to find the school’s principal understanding of my concern and my disagreement on how it was handled. As a parent I will not deny my main concern was for my daughter, but there was also concern for all those kids who were being so relentlessly bullied.
My concerns were alleviated after the proper steps were taken to inform parents and got the proper authorities involved.
I hope to see the open communication between parents and educators grow to a more fructiferous one; which would only benefit future generations.
I also hope that most parents take more time to talk to their children. I know in this day and age life is always at a fast pace, but if we don’t make the time for guiding our new generation no amount of success we may achieve will be worth our every day efforts for a better life.