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Bullying & Beyond…the challenges?

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Time and the right conditions not only preserve but bring about something of beauty – Marie Clancy.

 

I have been writing on the topic of bullying since late last year and I greatly appreciate all the support, encouragement and insightful feedback and comments which I have received to my Bullying & Beyond posts!

In order to access the most up to date information available on bullying and gain some insights and understanding of the Government’s education policy regarding the prevention of bullying,  I decided to join a blended learning programme being offered by NABC; the National Anti Bullying Association of Ireland, entitled Bullying Prevention & Intervention Online Course for Teachers.  It is a ten week online programme which also includes two face to face sessions in DCU, Dublin City University, St Patrick’s, Drumcondra, in Dublin.

And so, I would like to invite you to share your thoughts with me and in doing so, help me inform my answer to the first question we have been posed…

What do you think are the greatest challenges teachers face when dealing with bullying behaviours?

I look forward to your thought provoking responses!

Le grà,

Mindfully Marie

Bullying & Beyond…Calling Irish Post Primary teachers…

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Time and the right conditions not only preserve but bring about something of beauty – Marie Clancy.

 

Anti-bullying training for teachers that is evidence based and backed by up to the minute research is vital if students are to have access to the best possible education in an educational environment that is bully free.

The NABC, National Anti-bullying Centre in Ireland is providing an anti-bullying programme for teachers working in Irish Post primary schools…read more here and please share…

Calling All Teachers to Register for Anti-Bullying Schools Programme

“The FUSE programme is part of the Department of Education and Skills Wellbeing Framework and supported by the NABC, ISPCC and Dublin City University, and funded by Facebook. To run FUSE in your school and learn more about the programme please visit the FUSE website: https://antibullyingcentre.ie/fuse/ or please contact us on Tel: 01 884 2012.”

Le grà,

Mindfully Marie xx

 

Bullying & Beyond…”I was only messing…”

 

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Time and the right conditions not only preserve but bring about something of beauty – Marie Clancy.

 

When our son was being bullied and he told the bullies to ‘stop’ they wouldn’t stop.  When we sought help in school we were told “Sometimes you have to stand up for yourself.”  When he stood up for himself and physically fought back, it stopped some of the bullies.  Sometimes when one bully started a bout of verbal bullying others would join in and John would be out-numbered and unable to put an end to the unwanted taunting and teasing.

That sadly was the unpredictable and repeated reality for our son.

Some days school was what it was meant to be, a happy educational and social environment.  He came home to us full of chat, in great form and ready to engage with after school sports or other hobbies.

But other days the school torment returned…

Slowly we noticed him retreat into himself and take refuge in his room.  He started to delay getting ready for school and for his hobbies.  We couldn’t understand what was happening to him.  He couldn’t sleep and soon developed insomnia.  We took him to his GP.  Many rows centered around him always being late. He began to drop away from his hobbies and miss more time from school.  We felt all our efforts to communicate in a positive and respectful manner were met instead with fits of temper.  Now we know that he was unable to voice the painful abuse he was enduring, his behaviour was his only way of showing us his distress.

Bullies are cunning.  Part of their power lies in the unpredictability of their attack and in their ability to silence and keep their victim in fear.

His tormentors knew that over time, with sustained and unpredictable abuse they could break him.

“I was only messing”,

“I was only having a laugh”,

These are just two excuses that children offer when they are caught bullying another child and challenged for their behaviour.

As parents or teachers it is important to discuss with all children what bullying is and what bullying isn’t.  It is important to encourage children to talk about bullying, whether it is bullying they are experiencing, bullying they have witnessed or bullying they are perpetrating.

When boys are engaged in horseplay; which is a common way for adolescent boys to behave, the physicality is okay once all involved are willing participants.  But if one child is being targeted by another child or by a group of children and being verbally or physically mistreated then this behaviour is unwarranted and needs to be addressed.  Children buy into group behaviour and follow the lead of other more assertive children, often for fear of being a target themselves, if they don’t follow the bully’s lead.

As parents and teachers we can’t assume that all children understand when ‘messing,’ or ‘having a laugh,’ over-steps its boundary and is no longer just a bit of giddy fun.

Whether at home or in school, children need to be educated about bullying and made aware that when a child objects to any unwanted, continuous and upsetting behaviour, if it does not stop, then it is deliberate and willful bullying!  If bullying is left uncontested it can and will undermine the victim’s physical, psychological and emotional wellbeing.  If you would like to read about some of the consequences of bullying, we have shared our experiences in Bullying & Beyond… Painting the Pain, part one.

Have you ever discussed bullying with your child?  Have you ever watched your child retreat into themselves as a result of bullying?  Is “I was only messing” ever a good enough excuse?

Le gra,

Mindfully Marie xx

Bullying & Beyond… Acquiesce.

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Time and the right conditions not only preserve but bring about something of beauty – Marie Clancy.

 

I’m angry, and it’s not often I’m angry!  I’m also amazed…amazed at how a word can evoke such angry emotion!

This word ‘Acquiesce,’ gives me such an uneasy feeling because for too long, despite our best efforts we were silenced in a system that was disjointed and had no cohesive plan in place.

Slowly, I knocked on every door.   I struggled to be heard. I contacted every service.  Finally, I discovered the flimsy support that was available.  I wasn’t told this support existed.  I uncovered it, step by painful step.  I came to realise that every school in Ireland has access to a School Psychologist through NEPS.

Our school was one of those schools.

Here’s a small excerpt of what to expect… ”

What do you do if you think your child may need to be seen by a NEPS Psychologist?

  • You need to begin by discussing your child’s needs with the class teacher and/or school principal. Not every child needs to meet the psychologist in person. Each school makes referrals to their NEPS psychologist who helps the school to plan the work”

You can find out more here…

https://www.education.ie/en/Schools-Colleges/Services/National-Educational-Psychological-Service-NEPS-/FAQs.html

I rang a contact number, I spoke to the School Psychologist.  I told her our son wanted to achieve his Leaving Certificate.  I told her our son was being denied this opportunity because of the impact of bullying on his health.  I reminded her that every child is entitled to an education.

Soon I got a phone call from that Psychologist, a meeting had been arranged with the school to discuss our son’s education.

It did not solve the issue.  The impact of bullying on a child’s well-being and mental health does not disappear overnight but this State funded and readily available intervention went some way towards helping me realise that I was not alone, that we were not alone and that there were support services available that we had not been informed of!

 

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A screenshot from… https://www.citizensinformation.ie/en/education/primary_and_post_primary_education/educational_supports/national_educational_psychological_service.html

 

And now I refuse to ‘acquiesce.’  I won’t, under any circumstances, accept, agree or allow something to happen by staying silent or by not arguing.  I won’t acquiesce until I do my bit, no matter how small that may be!

I want to ensure victims, bullies, passive bullies (those who stand by gutless, watching and let the victims suffer), teachers, principals, parents, the community, society, and every nationality have a conversation.  I want them to see the damage school bullying causes. I want to paint a picture of the pain it inflicts – a picture that leave you in no doubt of the long term effects of school bullying.  Please help me break the silence and as we do this, together, please 1.Take Heart!

Dee’s Word of the Day

https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/80183056/posts/2151594850

Have you or your children been bullied or silenced? Have you stood by and watched a victim suffer at the hands of a bully?  What would you do differently now?

Le grà,

Mindfully Marie xx

 

 

 

Bullying & Beyond… Blossom

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Time and the right conditions not only preserve but bring about something of beauty – Marie Clancy.

via Daily Prompt: Blossom

 

‘NYCTINASTY’…that’s what it’s called when a flower closes in on itself at night to protect itself from a night-time chill or a nectar thief such as bats.

 

But when you watch your own child close in on themselves the ‘NYCTI’ vanishes from your mind and all that remains are the questions, those ‘NASTY’ nagging, unanswered questions!

 

You can see your child’s pain and of course being a parent, you can feel their pain but the worst pain is the helplessness you feel being unable to rightify their pain.

 

There are, you begin to realise, so many things outside your control but over time I’ve learnt that there is so much you CAN do…

 

You can regularly let your child know that you see that IT’S NOT EASY for them at the moment.

 

You can also voice, with confidence, even if you don’t feel confident, that you ARE THERE FOR THEM and that you have their back.

 

You can also be adult enough to realise that the temper tantrums and door slammings are their ONLY way of voicing what they are otherwise unable to verbalise.

 

Even when their words sting and hurt you to the core you can hold your tongue, which surprisingly is the strongest muscle in our body yet is possibly the weakest when we feel under attack!

 

The closing-in, the isolating self-protection you see in your child, unlike the flower’s nyctinasty, is not something that reverses itself overnight like the flower that reopen to the first rays of morning warmth.

 

Your child’s process of re-opening to the world, may take much longer… But be patient and ‘JUST LOVE’ your child and in time they will re-open to the world around them, and you will see how amazing it is when they BLOSSOM!

Le grà,

Mindfully Marie xx

Bullying & Beyond…Shame

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Time and the right conditions not only preserve but bring about something of beauty – Marie Clancy.

 

When your child is being bullied at school, it is important to reach out and find professional support.  There is a lot of qualified support out there but it is very important to find a counsellor that you and/or your child can relate to.  The trust you build with your counsellor is vital to the healing process.

Shame is an important aspect of bullying and an aspect I’d like to raise awareness of.  Teachers carry a heavy task, large class sizes and a wide variety of needs to be met but I think it’s important, for parents and teachers, to be very aware that children remember shaming remarks and wear them like a label, long after the event. The emotional growth of children is stunted if they are shamed in front of their siblings or peers.

I’d like to share a post from the blog of Jim O’Shea, Counsellor. http://www.jimoshea.net/shaming-children-leaves-a-lasting-impact-and-gives-them-core-shame-which-they-bring-into-adult-life/

This experienced and knowledgeable gentleman played an important part in providing insights that helped us heal our family.  Of course when you gain insights from counselling, you can choose to learn from them and use them to heal your family or if you so wish, not learn from them or use them.  At the end of the day, the path you choose is up to you…

Le grà,

Mindfully Marie xx

Shaming children leaves a lasting impact and gives them core shame which they bring into adult life

Shaming remarks made to children under twelve have a more drastic and permanent impact that can become core because, like parents, teachers spend a lot of time with them, and the frequency of these remarks is a key element in laying the crop of shame. A combination of parental and teaching shaming is particularly damaging and reinforces the sense of not being good enough in the child. We can choose not to shame any child. Education is not just about intellectual or cognitive development, it must include emotional nourishment as well, which is facilitated by praise and allowing children the space to interact with each other. So, I will leave this part of the blog with a simple poem by an unknown poet on the practical difference between shame and praise –

“I’ve got 2 A’s” the small boy cried,
His voice was filled with glee
His father very bluntly asked
“Why did you not get three?”

“I’ve mowed the grass” the tall boy said
“And put the mower away”.
His father asked him with a shrug,
“Did you clean off the clay?

“Mom, I’ve got the dishes done,”
The girl called from the door.
Her mother very calmly said
“And did you sweep the floor?”

The children in the house next door
Seemed happy and content.
The same things happened over there,
But this is how it went:

“I’ve got 2 A’s the small boy cried,
His voice was filled with glee.
His father very proudly said
“That’s great! I’m glad you live with me.”

“I’ve mowed the grass,” the tall boy said
“And put the mower away,”
His father answered with much joy,
“You’ve made my happy day”

“Mom, I’ve got the dishes done”
The girl called from the door.
Her mother smiled and softly said,
“Each day I love you more.”

Children need encouragement
For tasks they’re asked to do
If they’re to lead a happy life,
So much depends on you.

Posted in Shame
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Highest achievers?

 

The results of Ireland’s Leaving Certificate State Exam were released on the 13th of August.

This exam is the culmination of five years of study and it holds the key to the future of many students.

For months before the exams, which are held each year in June, two things happen.

1.  Some students don’t cast the upcoming exams a thought.

2.  Some students stress themselves to the point of mental and physical distress over sitting these exams.

For weeks before the results are released in August, two things happen.

1.    Some students don’t cast the upcoming  results a thought.

2.  Some students stress themselves out worrying about the outcome or points they will achieve.

And that is the story of life.

The students at 1. above, takes things in their stride, they do not struggle with their emotions or become anxious.

The students at 2. above, are predisposed to an anxious nature.  They struggle to handle their emotions and cope with stress.

And that is the human story or condition.  We are all different, in how we see the world and how we cope in the world.

The Leaving Certificate acknowledges the high achievers and rightly so!  It tabulates the results and rewards students accordingly.  It is a grading system.  It however, fails to grade students on how they function and cope emotionally or psychologically.

So please consider a few important things.

1.  Look past the A4 sheet of Academic Outcomes and see that each student, teenager, boy, girl, non-gender, behind the A4 grading system is individual, unique, different and consider how they truly feel. They may not be the highest achiever in maths or biology but they might be the highest achiever in resilience or mental health management.

2.  Don’t compare them to others.  It doesn’t matter what their friends or peers got.  Don’t expect them to get the same results. Do expect them to react or cope in very different ways and be there for them, if their world falls apart.  Be calm, be capable and let them see that by supporting each other this will all work out!

3.  If you are a teacher or parent and your student, son or daughter haven’t reached the exam stage yet, then make the most of it!  Tell them, right the way through school, how unique and different they are.  Watch out for and acknowledge their high achievements, whether it is academic or simply turning in for school.  Remind them that they have numerous talents, some of which will be uncovered academically and many, many more which will only surface when they study at the college of life!

Le grà,

Mindfully Marie xx

 

 

 

Bullying & Beyond…Perpetuating Social Norms…

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Time and the right conditions not only preserve but bring about something of beauty – Marie Clancy.

 

Today I would like to share T.S’s very emotive, true story from his blog “Crazywriterof6.” As I read T.S’s distressing reality, I felt my body became anxious.  I felt his apprehension and fear.  His sense of loneliness and isolation is palpable.  He says… “Maybe some of you can relate and see that even then, you weren’t alone”. No child should be in dread every day, isolated and living with the fear of bullying!

In my last post I wrote about the difficulty I had in supporting my children, both victims of bullying, because of the pressure on victims to remain silent.  You might like to read it… Big Boys…Don’t Cry!

We now hear in T.S’s own words, his deeply ingrained and debilitating belief as to why he was bullied… “The torture continued. Many moments before this event, many after. I have written some of them out, just to get them out. All this because I was different than the “normal people”, different from what society says I should be. Different because I was overweight”.  I believe he was not different… everybody is different and everybody has the right to be respected for who and how they are.

Please enhance your understanding by reading his story…

https://wordpress.com/read/blogs/48424428/posts/20

At a funeral yesterday, one sentence struck me, that sentence was “We could all be better people,” meaning we could all do more to be there for others.

Let’s break down the silence and begin a cross cultural, worldwide conversation about bullying.  Let’s educate ourselves and our children about bullying and let’s tear down out-dated social norms.

Le grà,

Mindfully Marie xx

 

 

 

 

Bullying & Beyond…Big Boys…

 

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Time and the right conditions not only preserve but bring about something of beauty – Marie Clancy.

 

Whenever our daughter was bullied she would invariably come home upset and tell us or sometimes her upset would become obvious to us after a while, when we took the time to Really Listen!

It was always upsetting to see her so distressed, usually she felt very lonely having been excluded or she was confused and frustrated as to why she was constantly called names and verbally abused. But either way we could comfort her and reassure her that the bullying was not about her but always about the bullies.

However, it was not so easy to offer support when our son experienced bullying simply because you can’t help a child who is being bullied, if you don’t know about it.

For a long time, our son kept the bullying to himself and kept the upset deep inside. I think our son did not want to add to our worries by sharing the difficulty he was having.  I also think another contributing factor to his silence, was social norms. These powerful messages or ways of behaving which are normalised within a society or culture are very powerful and from a young age, boys are conditioned to be tough, be manly, don’t be a cry-baby, a tell-tale, or “a grass,” running with the story to parents or teachers and above all, they are bombarded with the message that whatever you do… don’t cry!

If you’d like an excellent insight into bullying I highly recommend you visit Weeping Pines and read Parikhit’s post which shares his experience of bullying… Boys dont Cry

https://duttaparikhit.wordpress.com/2018/07/20/boys-dont-cry/

If you suspect your son is being bullied, discuss bullying in general while having dinner together.  Point out that asking for help means being strong not weak. An analogy might be helpful such as saying: When you play hurling you don’t do everything alone – so it’s important to have a team around you in life too! It might also help to compare asking for help to being similar to training: A good sportsman needs to practice the things he is not good at or things that are new for him, so asking for help also takes practice.

Have you or your child been bullied?  If so did cultural and social norms play a part in maintaining your distress?

Let’s get a conversation going about bullying! Let’s break down the silence around bullying and change some out-dated social and culturally accepted norms.

Le grà (with love),

Mindfully Marie xx

 

 

 

 

 

 

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