Archive for May 2010

Bullies Tattoo Boy With Learning Disabilities

May 25, 2010

From The Smoking Gun:

MAY 20–A 14-year-old New Hampshire boy was tattooed against his will by a group of fellow high school students who told the victim that they would no longer pick on him if he agreed to the inking. According to an arrest warrant affidavit, on May 10 the teenager was enticed to a Concord home, where the words “Poop Dick” and a drawing of a penis were tattooed across his buttocks. The boy told investigators that one of his assailants warned that “he was going to get the tattoo whether he liked it or not,” and that “he would not be picked on anymore if he got it done.” When the boy asked what would happen if he tried to flee, he was told that he would be caught and beaten up, police reported. The victim, a ninth grader at Concord High School, suffers from “learning disabilities and self-esteem issues” and has been “frequently targeted for ridicule by upper classmen,” investigators noted. A probe of the bullying incident led to the seizure of the tattoo equipment used on the boy, and the bust of four of the victim’s assailants, who have been charged with a variety of crimes, including assault, endangering the welfare of a minor, criminal threatening, and tattooing without a license. As seen in the mug shots below, police have arrested (clockwise from upper left) Donald Wyman, 20; Ryan Fisk, 19; Travis Johnston, 18; and Blake VanNest, 18.

Additionally, its been reported that:

The mother of one of the suspects says the boys acted stupidly, but not maliciously.

“They told me about it. They were joking about it. They thought it was something funny. And I believe there wasn’t an animosity or hatred,” said Patti VanNes.

* Imagine how much premeditated planning went into this attack.  Think about they held him hostage.  Consider how long it must have taken to drive the ink into this kid, as he was crying and trying to get away.  How they must have laughed as they were disfiguring him… and how proud they were! They actually took pictures and shared them with friends!

These young men have dishonored themselves and grievously  injured another human being “for fun”. They’ve shamed their families and friends. They will stand trial.  The legal costs will wipe out their family savings.  And if they’re found guilty (and there doesn’t seem to be much doubt about it), they need to go to prison where they belong.

This isn’t just bullying.  It’s sadism.


Talk To Your Kid About Bullying: 7 Conversation Killers To Avoid

May 16, 2010
Parents are often the last ones to know that their children are being bullied.  A kid who’s being chronically teased, picked-on, harassed or beat up carries a lot of shame inside, and being silent often seems easier than the alternative.  After all, telling a parent carries the risk that:

  • you might be disappointed, judgmental or get hysterical
  • you will make a fuss at school, making the situation worse (and drawing retaliation)
  • they will be labeled as a tattle tale or a rat

If you even suspect that your child is being bullied (threatened, pushed-around, shunned), talking to your son or daughter is the first step toward learning the truth.  Before you can formulate a strategy to help them, you need to find out the nature and scope of the problem.

When a kid does admit they’re being bullied, you have the opportunity to take positive action.  But take care- you might blow it with one misstep.

These are seven common mistakes that anyone can make.  When you know what to look for, you can avoid these common pit falls.

  • Being distracted, getting interrupted. The TV doesn’t need to provide back ground noise.  Make sure cell phones and blackberries are off (yours and theirs).
  • Wrong Environment.  Sensitive conversations should be carried out in a place where no one else is listening – and away from other siblings.
  • Making faces, Getting loud.  If your face twists up and broadcasts distress or anger, your kid will clam up.  If you get loud, they’ll become silent.
  • Rushing.  If your child’s conversation starts to wander (and it probably will), get back on track by asking, “what happened next”, or “let’s focus – what about XYZ?”. Avoid saying, “Hustle up” or “Get to the point”.
  • Meaningless Reassurances. “Don’t worry, everything will be fine”, “Things happen for a reason”, “This will work itself out”, etc.  It’s 1,000 times better to say nothing than to throw poison down the well with these hollow cliches.
  • Interrupting. When your kid talks, just listen.  Do NOT jump in with corrections or contradictions.  Do not finish their sentences for them.  Do not talk over them. 1) its rude 2) it models bad conversational skills 3) it prevents you from learning anything.  A good rule of thumb is to wait until the other person finishes,  and count two breaths before you speak.
  • Being Dismissive. Examples include: “Tough it out”, “You’re being way too sensitive”, and “Come on,  that’s nothing”.  Do this and your kid wont talk to you about anything important.
Avoid these 7 conversation killers and you’ll  not only forge a better relationship with your child, you’ll be well on the way to helping them solve their bullying problems.

Even if you don’t have “the conversation”, you can successfully open the door by saying this:

“We know that school can be tough, and sometimes kids are thoughtless and even downright mean. If anything comes up, I hope you talk to us. We’re always here to listen, and there’s a chance we might have something to offer.”

Weight Control / Bullying Prevention

May 10, 2010

Headed For Serious Problems

Want to cut your child’s chances of being bullied by over 60%?

Over the past 30 years, childhood obesity has more than tripled. (That in itself is a national disgrace). And the latest research indicates that overweight kids are bullied 63% more than their peers.

According to the CDC and the NIH (and other independent studies), this is a very complex problem with numerous interrelated causes, including environmental factors, socio-economic conditions, lack of education, inherent genetic tendencies).

Forget that nonsense.  Its exactly the kind of babble you’d expect to find padding a well-funded report where the problems / causes / solutions are very obvious.

Don’t cry genetics.  You wont find anyone in a famine zone complaining that they balloon up from eating 1 grain of rice. Don’t cry poverty – it doesn’t cost a nickel to skip a meal, put on sneakers, and go for a run. Don’t cry lack of information – its not a mystery that eating too much packs on the pounds.

In addition to heart crushing social stigma, obese kids face  a variety of immediate and long-term health issues, including:

  • Joint and bone problems
  • Sleep apnea
  • Increased cardiovascular diseases, including high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Increased odds of becoming an obese adult and potentially getting heart disease,  cancer and stroke

Obesity isn’t a disease.  Its a decision.

We don’t really need more studies, or more statistics, or more dire medical predictions, do we? Eat more than you burn off and you get fat. Its simple. Fortunately, ending childhood obesity is quite straightforward as well.

  • Never reward or punish kids with food. This will warp a child’s relationship with food forever.
  • Portion control.  Every meal isn’t a buffet.
  • Eat slower, always use utensils.
  • Don’t drink calories.  Replace high sugar drinks with water or zero calorie beverages.
  • Encourage physical activities that your children enjoy. Each child is unique and may have to experiment with a number of activities until he or she finds one they like. Exercise one hour each day.
  • Less TV.  Less computer.  Less video games. Set limits and enforce them.
  • Remind your kid that THEY are in control – not their stomach.  Only babies cry when they don’t get their bottle.  A growling tummy is NOT the end of the world.
  • Help children develop a positive self image. Focus on the positives instead of the negatives. And remember, a kid’s self-image depends more on their actions than anything you say.

And the big one: practice what you preach. You have to set the example.  The life you lead is more eloquent and convincing than the words you speak. Spend active time with your kids… take walks, go swimming, throw a football around, ride bikes together.

Now you’ve got the information. Consciously make a new decision, come up with a game plan and put it into action.

Be Excellent!

Bullying and Obesity

May 8, 2010

Regarding the study that just came out in Pediatrics, demonstrating that obese kids get bullied more than their peers: There’s something that wasn’t as widely publicized.

Fat Kids Also Become Bullies. When compared to their normal weight peers, the overweight children in the study were 6 times more likely to become bullies.

Humans are social animals.  Pack animals.  And the “Us vs Them” mentality is deeply programed in our primate heritage. Anything that makes you stand out from the group draws attention – how you deal with that attention will determine your social standing (or isolation).

Being fat definitely distinguishes a kid from his or her peers.  And makes them an easy target for bullying. If it’s handled with strength and confidence, the pack will (sometimes grudgingly) open its ranks, or at the very least, cease hostilities. If the bullying is met with weakness (fear, emotional instability, etc), the pack unites against the ‘outsider’.

A bullied child who doesn’t get proper guidance will make the obvious and primitive leap of reasoning that to get in with the pack, they’ve got to act like the pack. They’ll try to elevate themselves by trampling someone else. To paraphrase Newton, “Shit will continue to roll downhill unless acted upon by an outside force”.

Parents- that outside force is YOU.

Next Post: What you CAN do – positive action steps you can take immediately.

Bullying and Obesity

May 4, 2010

Wedgie Warning!

Before anyone gets their thong in knot, please take the following inoculation: The measure of a man (or woman) is NOT their physical attributes, their temporary personal circumstances, or their material belongings.  I have a spacious heart, full of love. And to the best of my ability, I do not judge others.  But I do EVALUATE.  It’s not my intention to hurt anyone’s feelings by sharing my observations and opinions.  But as Benjamin Franklin said, “The sting in any rebuke comes from the truth”

From Professor Obvious and the crack research team at “Duhhh” University…

According to a major study just published online in the journal Pediatrics: fat kids are targeted for bullying  significantly more often than  their peers. Up to 63% more.

Shocking, right?

Every news outlet reporting on this breaking story (*ahem*) then went on to quote experts on the  serious and detrimental effects of bullying, including damaged self-esteem and arrested social development.  Several of the cited authorities then cited how complex obesity is- even going so far as to describe it as a “brain disorder”.

My Turn:

It goes without saying….
Bullying Is NOT Cool.  Or acceptable. Or excusable.  It doesn’t matter if a kid is fat or skinny or nerdy or “gay”. No one has the right to right to kick another person in their human dignity. Social cruelty is bad behavior and it needs to be corrected. Adults don’t have to micro-manage every childhood interaction, but they do need to play the part of a good coach – standing on the sidelines, and pumping the plays onto the field.

Raising an Obese Child = Child Abuse. If a neighbor or teacher noticed a kid who appeared underfed, you can bet that Social Services would be notified to investigate.  If there was any evidence at all that the parents in question were withholding food, they would be criminally charged and their kid would be taken away.
Why is it that a parent can gorge a child, over-stuffing them until their skin strains to contain them, and no one makes a peep?
Fat kids develop diabetes.  Arterial plaque and other cardiovascular diseases. Breathing problems.  And of course, they’re lightning rods for peer abuse.

Allowing this to happen to a child  is shameful, bordering on wicked.