This is an important article that should be shared with all parents, teachers, and individuals who work with youth…
Source: When a Child Dies by Suicide – Richmond Family Magazine
Teen bullying: why does it sometimes feel as if nothing is being done? Why are there so many teens being teased by their peers? Have things changed so much since I was in high school that the youth of today is under so much more stress, anxiety, and emotional pain? The youth of today is experiencing life much differently than a generation ago. Technology, social media, economics, family dynamics (more divorced, separated or blended families) and the educational demands (standardized testing, academic achievements) of schools today seem to place a huge load on kids. At the same time, this fast paced life of technology is occurring, kids and teenagers have access to an online world where individuals post every detail about their lives. Facebook, cell phones/texting have taken over the typical face to face interactions. Much easier to tease, make fun of, and bully an individual online than in person. More needs to be done both by parents/families, communities and schools re: appropriate online postings for Facebook along with more support offered to deal with the fallout of bullying and potential mental health symptoms.
The Globe and Mail had an article on Mental Health and Bullying. It focuses on a school district in Eastern Ontario-Upper Canada School District- implementing a solution: Peer Mentoring which links grade 12 students who are trained to mentor every incoming grade 9 student. Besides mentoring, the initiative is an anti-bullying program called Link Crew founded by the U.S. Boomerang Project.
“The Boomerang Project is a company dedicated to both educators and students; our goal is to help create schools that not only teach students, but reach them as well. Whether it be through high school or middle school orientation and transition programs, student to student mentoring programs, an incredible teacher training, a powerful in-service, a dynamic speaker, or providing useful resources. Link Crew is a high school orientation and transition program that increases freshman success and Link Crew schools report having greater student connection, increased extracurricular participation, fewer discipline issues and improved academic performance.”
Peer to peer mentoring makes sense. Who does a 9th grader want to talk to about potential bullying and emotional upsets: an adult or a fellow student who may have gone through something similar? This does not take away the importance of a student speaking to the appropriate adult or professional if the needs go beyond what a peer can assist with.
Social and emotional needs must be addressed. Considering that students spend 5 days a week in the educational environment for at least 6 hours a day-it makes sense that these needs are addressed at school and can even become part of the curriculum.
I hope to see more school districts implement anti-bullying and peer-to-peer mentoring programs. What are you thoughts?
By: Victoria Brewster, MSW
Two amazing books that are a must read both for parents and teachers, and really anyone who works with children are Rafe Esquith’s, Teach Like Your Hair’s on Fire and Lighting Their Fires. This is the teacher you want for your kids. This is the teacher you want mentoring/teaching the youth of the future. This is the teacher you want to become a school principal. This is the teacher you want to see in a university as a professor mentoring/teaching in education.
Esquith’s focus is providing a ‘haven’ for his students in grade 5. He teaches at Hobart Elementary in a rough section of Los Angeles in a school that runs year round. It has a fence around it to protect the youth within and keep the rough elements out. Most students are immigrants, English is their second language and they are in the lower socio-economic bracket.
He believes in teaching by example and has learned from his mistakes, readily depicting this in both books. This is a teacher that opens his classroom doors an hour before school normally starts, holds after school sessions and offers voluntary weekend sessions for his current and former students. He teaches all the basics and then goes beyond to include music, theatre, organizational and time management, and life skills of budgeting. Outings in the community occur along with former students coming to mentor his current ones. Yearly trips occur to historical sites, museums, baseball games and he accompanies some students to canvas future colleges. Students have to work hard in the classroom to go on these trips; they are not simply handed out. Many hours are spent in preparation.
Imagine if you had a teacher like this in school. Can you see yourself wanting to stay after school to learn more, to attend a weekend session voluntarily? I can.
This teacher in a sense is also a social worker without the title. There is an emphasis on use of self, compassion, empathy, wanting to make a difference, to rise to the challenge of teaching, but in a way that works for each student, as no two are the same. He instills a joy of reading, playing the guitar, daily physical exercise; quality over quantity. He does not like standardized tests or curriculum that promotes teaching every student the same way.
One of my favorite quote’s from Teach Like Your Hair’s on Fire, “Our goal is to help each student become as special as she/he can be as an individual-not to be more special than the kid sitting next to him/her.”
He asks his students why and why not? He believes in character, honesty, morality and generosity of spirit, along with teamwork, collaboration, listening skills and compromise-all necessary and needed life skills/characteristics.
Those that have children in school will learn something from reading both of these books. It will make one question the school their kid(s) currently attend. Parents may become more involved and question the curriculum currently in place. Education is harder today-school budgets are reduced each year and schools make do with less. Many parents pay for the extra’s like music, art, lunch monitors; purchase items for the classroom and assist with fundraising activities along with volunteering in order for their child(ren) to have library time, hot lunches brought in, to go on outings in the community and have extra help in the classroom environment. For those that can volunteer, it is a great way to know what really goes on in the classroom and in the school environment. Trips, extra supplies, books, science equipment, paper products, markers and more cost money and for some families it can be expensive.
Our educational institutions need an overhaul and more money needs to be earmarked for public schools. Schools are where many youth spend between 6-8 hours a day. Let the time be well spent, where at the end of the day they come out having learned something new.
By Victoria Brewster, MSW
*First published at: http://www.socialjusticesolutions.org/2013/09/09/amazing-teachers-amazing-students/
Education to become a priority in DR Congo and Ethiopia in conflict zones. An article worth reading: http://www.trust.org/item/20130712104100-3uxah/. A quote from the article states, “Many Congolese children are still without access to education. In an emergency setting like the Eastern part of DRC, getting kids into school is not prioritized by many donors. This leaves children at even greater risk of all the dangers that come with conflict, and it puts this region at risk of losing an entire generation….” Education is a basic here in the Western world along with food, shelter, clothing and transportation. What progress can be made or obtained without education?
An article worth reading on Anna Freud: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-23965388