Category Archives: teens

Help stop bullying Pt. 1-The time to talk is now!

Photos from "Stop Bullying Now! One Mile Fun Walk"
Photos courtesy of: Mental Health America of NE Florida

According to Gayle Eckerd, CEO of River Point Behavioral Health, “Bullying among our children and adolescents has become an epidemic and something needs to be done now.”

To stop an epidemic, there is often a source where a treatment can be implemented and then spread out from there. But, with bullying, each and every case is different because it is not only dealing with the victim of bullying but also the person or persons behind the act of bullying. It is also looking at what is causing this person to act out in this way and we also must ask a few questions; Why is this becoming such a growing problem? What is bullying? Where does the problem of bullying begin? Who is responsible to address these concerns?

The first question to address is the last one. Who is responsible to address these concerns? We all are. This is a concern for everyone to not only realize but to be part of the overall solution. The first thing to recognize is the problem. Look around. Bullying is not something that only happens on the school playground or during playgroups at the park. It is not something that is happening only amongst our young people. This is a problem in homes with siblings, at school within all age groups. Bullying is a problem within the workplace, within our political system, between parents, between parents and their children and the lists go on. What happens is, it isn’t always considered bullying and therefore the issue is getting beyond our grasp and out of control. But, it isn’t beyond help.

Preparing for the walk, everyone can be part of the solution to stop bullying.

In today’s world, anyone who wants to bully someone else can do so in a buffet of places and even without ever showing their face. Once a person becomes aware of the problem bullying has become in our society, it becomes hard to avoid or overlook this issue. The problem is so many people have begun to accept it as a way of life or have learned to overlook it until the problem becomes unavoidable or irreversible. Too many people are getting physically, mentally and emotionally hurt and many are committing suicide over it or living in silence and unspeakable pain on the verge of a meltdown. But, there is help.

Everyone who participates, tells someone else and the word spreads...
that's a good sign!

On Saturday, May 21st, Riverpoint Behavioral Health in Jacksonville, Florida joined forces with Mental Health America of Northeast Florida to organize the “1st Annual Stop Bullying Now! One-Mile Fun Walk” to raise awareness in their community and beyond.

With 200-250 walkers and their tremendous success, this is one of the most powerful ways to make a difference in the battle against bullying. They are reaching out to the younger generation, their friends and families, starting necessary conversations and letting it be known that it is not only okay to talk about bullying but also making it known that bullying against anyone, for any reason, at any age is never okay!

Studies have shown 15-25% of students report being the victim of bullying while 15-20% of students report they engage in bullying. These reported numbers are often low due to victims’ fear of retribution keeping them from coming forward.

Bullying is a form of abuse and can have immediate and long-term effects.

Recently, as seen on the news, reports of suicides have been on the increase due to bullying. Young people who are victims of bullying are more likely to drop out of school, abuse drugs and/or alcohol, have mental health disorders such as depression, eating disorders, self mutilation, thoughts of suicide, anxiety, etc.

Youth who bully are more likely to engage in violence, get involved in gangs, criminal behavior and become abusers as adults. These traits can often effect the next generations as well.

Mental Health America of Northeast Florida has been working to raise awareness of this epidemic of bullying in our country beginning with our local communities. With sponsors like, River Point Behavioral Health who paid for this event, allowing all proceeds to go the Mental Health America of Northeast Florida for their amazing work in not only this event but also working within schools and summer camps, this is an amazing example of what can be done to stop bullying, prevent bullying and everyone can be involved.

Mental Health America of Northeast Florida has found the necessary treatment is to not only treat the victim but also those that feel the need to bully. There is very often a reason behind the bullying but also to get people talking and raise awareness to this growing problem.

Take time to listen. Take time to talk. Talk about bullying.

The more people who get involved and the more help made available, the better the chances for everyone.

In this series of articles, I’ll share different stories from people who have had their lives affected from bullying in one way or another. The only way to effectively stop bullying is to show its hiding places, bring them out into the open and let people know the best thing to do is speak up and get the necessary help when needed. Let people know it is okay to say they need help because they are not alone.

What many people see as harmless fun is very hurtful and has long-term effects to others. This is bullying. This is causing many people a lost childhood, lifelong trauma, physical harm and as we are learning it is more often leading to suicide. This has to stop. It must stop now.

See the signs, read the warnings and act. Don't ignore what is right in front of you.




The first story is something that is horrible and should be unheard of but it is a situation that very much needs to be recognized for what it is.





This is about a young lady that had been bullied by not only one person but multiple people. She was bullied to the point of victimization in both a medical facility and her family environment. She is disabled and required help for much of her daily care.

During what should have been a 5-day admission to a hospital for medical testing for a diagnosis, she was instead bullied, made fun of, called names and left in unsanitary conditions. In the end, due to the lack of care from the medical staff, the correct tests had not been done which led to a long delay of the correct diagnosis. She said, ““It was an awful experience; the mental games were terrifying and I was stuck there because they did not want to discharge me.”

At the hands of her family, where she should have felt the most secure, cared for and loved, she was instead bullied most by her siblings until she was later sent to live with other relatives. There, she was often left alone as a live-in babysitter, neglected for her own daily medical needs and left to fall into the hands of a family friend who raped her.

When she couldn’t take anymore and tried to leave, she was locked in a room, slammed against the wall, unable to use a phone or a bathroom until she eventually crawled out a window and escaped. Yes, escaped. She said, “You hear about human trafficking nowadays, but that was kind of the case, even within my own family.”

At the time, this woman was wheelchair bound. Since getting better care after these experiences, this has changed. She has chosen to remain anonymous for very clear reasons.


The second story is about Lynda in Parkersburg.

Lynda’s has quite a different side of things. At first, in middle school, Lynda was having a lot of troubles at home and this led to troubles at school. During her 8th grade year, Lynda ran away.

This ended up getting her moved to another relative’s home and also to a new school. The kids at the new school didn’t treat her too well, in fact, they were just mean. She was poked, tripped, had her books knocked out of her hands and threatened about showing up places outside of school. So, she decided to just stay quiet and stay to herself.

In the 9th grade, she moved back in with her grandparents and returned to her old school. However, she had taken on a new attitude. She was loud, mean and a bully now. She wasn’t going to be picked on anymore. She took things to a new level you could say. Name calling and harassing was an everyday part of her demeanor and she’s sure she made the daily lives of some of her classmates a living hell.

“So many things that I look back on in shame,” Lynda says, “I cannot believe the intolerance that I showed back then.”

Now Lynda has her own children and would she never want to see them be bullied”, but she says, “I cannot stomach the thought of one of my kids being the bully.”

Lynda is making this known to help stop bullying.

Many people are stepping forward in efforts to help stop bullying. Below are some excellent links to visit for information on how you can speak with children, friends, coworkers or reach out for help.

Please feel free to comment on your experiences with bullying and how it has affected your life as well. Together, we can help in the effort by sharing information, speaking up, getting help and bringing an end to bullying in our own local communities which will prevent more victims and help save lives from the hurt or worse, from the loss of life. Please pass this along and keep an eye out for part 2 of this series.



AHMIR ANTI-BULLYING VIDEO – “Perfect”
Purchase this song on iTunes and 20% of the proceeds will be donated to the Make Laughter Count foundation (an organization that brings comedians & entertainers together to increase awareness about bullying and raising funds for charities)




SEE PART 2 OF THIS TOPIC



Help stop bullying Pt. 2 – Bullying effects everyone




Please see links below and feel free to share comments below.



StopCyberBullying.org

TakeAStand.StopBullying

ItGetsBetterCampaign

StopBullying.gov

PeaceBuilders.com

TheTrevorProject.org

WelcomingSchools.org

Let’s Move.gov

Teach for America

MakeLaughterCount

Life’s Lessons:Cancer, theBridge, and Walmart

Are you at a place in your life where you are thinking about a change in career? Are looking for a complete change in the direction your life is going? Maybe even in a change in your relationship? Do you feel like you are trying to go forward but something doesn’t feel right about the direction you are going? Maybe you feel you are surrounded by the wrong people or too many people or you want to make more friends? I know sometimes that can be called a “Mid-Life Crisis” but what if you are 20, 30 or 60? What is it then? Some people even say they just have this sense that something is about to go wrong, “Doomed”. Is that possible?

I like to think of myself as the “Glass is half full” kind of person but I am also a very realistic kind of person. When I am looking into a situation that has come to me, I look ahead. Although I am given a set of information, I don’t let that information get to me whether it is good or bad. I think information is golden and the lack of information can be harmful. But I do understand that sense of “doom” or pessimism people have. I understand the sense of people getting “off track” and the feeling they just can’t get back on track. I understand having a bad day that has dragged out for a month, 2 months, longer…

It’s possible this didn’t creep up on you over time. Sometimes things happen in our life that brings this knocking on our door. I was introduced to the world of cancer back in 2002 (to be exact April 15, 2002 – you never forget the day) when my youngest daughter was diagnosed with leukemia AML). For one, the diagnosis of cancer changes your life forever. When one of your children is diagnosed, your world comes to a screaming halt! As a parent, the day your first baby is laid in your arms, your life is all about making their world a wonderful and safe place. Cancer doesn’t fulfill that purpose. In fact, it does quite the opposite and in the harshest of ways! It kills! Who it doesn’t kill, it puts through horrible treatments with poisons and pain and often leaves its patients with many side effects and the uncertainty even having an ongoing life or a quality life. In the back of your mind, there is always the thought of the cancer returning. Due to this, life takes a new direction, completely against your will.

While fighting for our daughter’s life, we have seen many children and adults taken away from their loved ones during their fight with cancer. These families are left to start another life without their loved one to hold, laugh with, love and just be able to continue each day with. I can’t even begin to imagine life without my daughter so I can’t say how this feels. These families’ lives are literally torn away from them and they are forced to build a new way of starting their days, going through their days and finding some sort of peace to go to sleep at night. I know from dealing with these families that this takes different lengths of time for each individual in a family and more than often, this hasn’t been attainable for some. I ask myself, “How can it be?” “What would I do?” I don’t even want to imagine that and I don’t. I just know that the words, “Katia has leukemia, a type of cancer in her blood and spinal fluid” was the most horrible words I had ever heard in my life until, “Katia has relapsed, her cancer has returned” and I just never want to hear anything worse than that!! I have seen others suffer that tremendous pain of death that no family should have to endure, no parent should have to face and no loved one should have to succumb to. To me, it is unbearable. I shudder at the thought.

In today’s economic times, so many people that had really taken the time and effort to plan out their retirements for years have lost everything, not only their retirement but their jobs and healthcare. The bottom has been ripped out from under them. College graduates who went to college with a specific goal in mind (what they were told would be beneficial for them) graduated and were unable to find a job either in the field they studied for or in many cases, any job at all. Many households that had been run on dual incomes were suddenly down to one or even one part time income. And so many American households were suddenly without health insurance because employers had to either cut the insurance or more employees.

I know a lot of this can be argued because it is often between the employer’s word and the employee. It is an argument between the political parties as well. But ultimately, who does it affect? It is affecting each of us. And even as the economy is “building back up”, so they say, we are still feeling all of the effects of it falling out beneath us.

For one, there is a complete lack of trust for nearly every decision being made. Not just by our government even though that is a big part. With elections coming up for many officials in November, everything being said by them seems like a lie, a cover-up or a half-truth. In Washington, there seems to be more arguments and debating back and forth over everything than in High School or on an MTV Reality show. It is getting to the point, there needs to be polygraph machines for most state and federal positions. But then there would have to be more people hired to run the polygraphs and people hired to oversee those people to make sure they were running them fairly and correctly and overseen by each represented political party… You see where I am going.

Okay, so back to life changes and I am not talking about Cialis and the tubs in the middle of the woods (I am so tired of seeing those commercials! Can the people not just finish what they are working on instead of running off to the woods and the bathtubs? Ugh!)

I have discussed before the fact we all have our daily lives in another blog I have written during my daughter’s journey and her treatments for cancer. In it, I wrote about traffic and how people hate to be stuck in traffic or in line at a grocery store or particularly Walmart! Their lines are long and the store is so noisy. I have to admit that.

If you read my blog early, “Tax Day 2002”, I talked about transferring from one hospital to another the day my 2 ½ year old daughter was diagnosed with cancer and going over the bridge. It crosses over the Bay from Tampa to St. Pete. My life definitely changed at that moment. Before that, I felt like I knew everything about my baby. I knew everything to do for her, everything about her, every mark on her body, what to do if she felt bad and how each day was going to be… so I thought.

Well, on the other side of that bridge, that was stripped from me as we walked onto the Oncology Floor of All Children’s Hospital. Doctors and Nurses would be making the decisions for her and still do on a lot of things even to this day. They and I do work together and did throughout all of Katia’s care but the fact is, I am Katia’s Mommy and I am supposed to make everything better, always! I couldn’t make cancer better. I couldn’t dress it up or kiss it away. That sucked!

So, back to the bridge and the lesson on it.

When Katia later relapsed in August of 2003, we crossed that bridge to admit her into the hospital. What we didn’t know is it would be 9 months before she would come back across that bridge and return home. NINE MONTHS!! We lived in the hospital! We go back and forth to clinic and we used to go back and forth multiple times per week and per month and still go back and forth quite a lot. I never take those trips for granted, ever.

Why? For one, we have great medical care. We have Katia!! She is alive and is 10 years old!! She is a miracle! She didn’t have a match for a marrow donor for months and months and finally one was found and saved her life! We have great doctors. We have insurance. We have the ability to go to clinic. We have so many moments that many parents and loved ones don’t have anymore with their loved ones.

So, I don’t get upset if I get stuck in traffic on the bridge. I am grateful for it. Sounds crazy? I take the time to look around and enjoy the water, the skyline of Tampa and I wonder what the people around me in traffic are thinking about.

When I get stuck in Walmart, I may not be AS thankful but I am grateful to be able to buy groceries, to be able to have the health to stand there, that whoever’s child is crying is healthy enough to be in the store (Katia’s immune system is too low to go to Walmart) and just the fact that I am out with a free moment alone (oh admit it, we all like our free time!)

Of course, I GermX the moment I walk out of Walmart, who am I kidding? But I am a GermX freak so I GermX when I walk out of any place.

Due to everything I have been around and seen what I have seen. I tend to have a pretty high tolerance for people having a bad day. If someone is rude or in a rush, I tend to think about the fact they may have just lost their job, been cut down to less hours, lost a loved one, received some very bad news via a phone call, etc.

I have been that person so I tend to see that person in others.

In today’s world, I think we each need to try to help fix what is around us in some way and not point fingers. If a child is crying, bawling and throwing canned goods at their Mom (yes, I do think discipline is definitely necessary when bringing up kids) I think the Mom probably knows the scene this is causing and sometimes I can see it in their face that they would prefer to leave but they just have to pick up something before leaving. I also know of the medical conditions that can cause problems like this and just really can’t be helped all the time. It could be a number of things. I just try to carry on and get my stuff done and not add to the situation.

I am not a passive person as you can see by my other blogs but do try to be understanding and tolerant and appreciate what each day brings. I feel for kids these days because compared to 20 and 30 years ago, parents are so much more busy and stressed and children these days are so multi-tasked and involved, I can see why they are so high strung. I will save that for another blog. If you haven’t read, “Privacy Matters”, it is a good read for anyone that has kids online. Keep them and you safe. Our children are precious! It doesn’t matter how much they think they are nondestructive.

Thanks for dropping by.

Have an idea for a blog subject, let me know and I may use it.

PRIVACY MATTERS


The year is 2010.

I am typing this on a laptop while using a WIFI Network in my home. No I am not willing to give my social security number like the Life Lock Commercial on TV because I think that would just be ridiculous for me to do so, irresponsible.

Since I am an Internet user, I have to know what risk may come along while using the Internet. Not just while ON the Internet but the entire time my Internet access is available.

Understandably there are a lot of people that are either too young or not “Internet Savvy” understand fully what the risk, or benefits, of the Internet may be.

So, is there a solution to this problem or is the problem bigger than a solution?

We know there are problems. Here are just a few.

“Google: Google Street View Cars Sniffed Wi-Fi Networks”

You know how we like to be able to look at those Street Views on Google Maps when we look up an address or GPS location?? Well, they get there somehow and oops… a little too much info was gathered in the process.

Facebook: Problems again…
Some users taking matters into their own hands.

Facebook has changed their privacy policies and security tools so many times, it lets you know it is something you need to keep an eye on constantly. I tell people that are friends of mine on Facebook or new to Facebook that the smartest thing to do with Facebook or other online accounts is to change their passwords often and whatever you do, don’t click on links from people you don’t know (heck, don’t click on a bunch of links-one can send you into Virus Hell!) Is it worth it??

“The Top Facebook Privacy Settings You Should Know”

 Want to learn more about Facebook? Stay on top of how things are changing ALL the time? Click here.

MySpace was the trend for so long and is still there and very much used. It just doesn’t seem to change so often.

Facebook launched on February 4, 2004 it wasn’t heard of in the media, around schools or much anywhere for that matter.

When I joined in 2007, it was hard for me to locate people on Facebook even then. The idea of finding people via a High School website was still new so I had to start my own.

Since then, Facebook has boomed! There are groups for everything from schools, workplaces, regions of towns, states, nations and countries. There is a group if you like to do something or if you don’t like to do something. There are groups of people fighting for cures for cancer, helping finding missing people, getting petitions signed, trying to form a group, trying to break up a group, name a group, even a group for people that have joined too many groups.

What do you do on Facebook? Are you worried about your messaging? Your photos? Your privacy overall? Or do you just use Facebook as a “light source” of staying in touch and reconnecting? To me, that is what it should be and this is why I feel that way.

Facebook has over 400 million users logging on and off daily.

About 70% of them reside outside of the U.S.

The average user has over 130 friends.

There are more than 550,000 active applications currently on the Facebook Platform and

There are more than 250,000 websites that have integrated with Facebook Platform

Click here for the above statistics and more.

And… if you think Facebook and MySpace, emailing, Google, Bing is what the Internet is about, there is much more coming through the Internet which is why it is very important you stay informed, daily.

On the lines of what can go wrong with meeting the wrong people, cyber bullying, giving out too much information, going too far… comes along “Chat Roulette”. Please watch this Video Clip.

If you are a parent and you have a computer in your house, there are HUGE responsibilities that go along with this.

“Social Media Parenting: Raising the Digital Generation”

Know what is going on at all times on that computer. Don’t let computers be in the bedrooms or away from plain site.

A lot of times, children in the house understand the usage of a computer more than their parents. A computer can be a fantastic tool of education, information, fun and entertainment even. But, too many times, boredom and the Internet can lead to trouble.

Good kids can find themselves in a bad position and do something they regret or too many times something they can’t get out of. There are also a good amount of children that know they can outsmart their parents and do as they please online because they understand the Internet far better, therefore, they can do whatever they wish and cover up whatever they are doing. This can lead to some very serious problems. We all watch the news. Kids meet people on line. They think they are safe, they think they know who the person is, send a picture or agree to meet somewhere and suddenly everything turns bad. This may seem like someone else’s child but this can be anyone. If you don’t know 100% it isn’t your child and what your child is doing, you have to know. It is our job as parents.

WiredSafety.org (GREAT SITE!). This is a must read for everyone, not just parents. Read around the site, click the links. More and more, this is affecting more children, more teens daily. Bookmark the site as it is updated.

Here is another site to check out as this is really becoming a bigger and bigger issue both during and after school. Remember this is online and cellphones.

http://stopcyberbullying.org/

Your child can have a blog going that is pouring out their heart that is asking for help and if someone knew what was being said, help could be offered. If someone knew how much time was being spent on the computer, someone could be spending that time preventing the need for filling that empty space. I read a blog being written by a 15 year old girl the other day that was just heartbreaking. She never did pinpoint why she felt so bad but she very much shared how alone she felt, everyday. At school, at home, in some groups she was part of. This blog had been written over a period of at least a year. There were no comments.

It’s not that children don’t hear about the dangers of being online or sharing to much information online, or that they don’t know of other kids that are doing the same things. It is a lot of times either they don’t see themselves in a situation that can go so far that it will lead to trouble or that they are so caught up in a situation, it isn’t clear enough to them to see they are at a point they need help.

Sometimes, they are doing certain things, even by being in a dangerous situation online to reach out for help. But, they are kids. As much as they want to be grown up so much and be treated like adults, they aren’t.

The fact is that each child is different and to assume that one “would never” do something that we hear others are doing online is the same as thinking that a person’s private information would be perfectly safe in a world where hundreds of millions of people are all sharing information back and forth on the World Wide Web (the name alone should be something to tell us to use it with caution).

If we aren’t willing to put our SS# or your bank account information on Facebook, the Internet or anything that can be found via the Internet now or in the coming days without being extra guarded or just not doing it at all, why would we put our children on there without keeping a close eye and being extra guarded and responsible??