Saturday, July 30, 2016

The 2016 Presidential Election: Adult Bullying Takes Center Stage

 Donald Trump has put a very public and ugly face to what bullying looks and sounds like. Our children our watching, and that matters very much! Consider that when you cast your vote on November 8, 2016.

John F. Kennedy wisely said, “The ignorance of one voter in a democracy impairs the security of all.” The words of our beloved former President Kennedy, whose life was tragically taken by the assassination of a madman in 1963, are especially prophetic for the 2016 United States Presidential election. So were the words of our 16th president, Abraham Lincoln, in saying, “The only danger that America really needed to fear would come from within: If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide.
The importance of being informed this election year and voting wisely is more important than at any other time in our country’s recent history. What is at stake is stark! I have tried to think like Trump supporters in an attempt to assess why they would support such a candidate, but I have found that task impossible and incomprehensible.
I feel that voters have a moral imperative to become more informed about the actual facts about the real Donald Trump and not just swallow his hype and attention-getting sound bytes. To do so would mean that voters should study the policy differences of both candidates and become informed about the Constitution of the United States of America - ( at least more informed about the U.S. Constitution than Donald Trump, who apparently believes it has 12 articles in it, seems to be ). It would mean reading reliable sources and viewing universally trusted and more non-partisan news media on television and radio and on the Internet rather than limiting themselves to the bias and frequent misinformation of the pundits on Fox News (an apparent favorite of Trump supporters).
Below are some actual facts about Donald Trump, based upon his own words and behavior displayed in his rallies and other public appearances. These are facts that voters need to know:
Mr. Trump’s style, personality, racism, and insults are not patriotic, much less presidential. Such style does not lend itself to the ability to govern, to accept compromise, or to understanding the viewpoints and objectives of others. As a representative of the US, he engenders more an image of distrust, win at any cost, and selfishness.
Mr. Trump’s personal criticism of one American-born citizen and its extension to an entire population is the epitome of class racism. In addition, it reveals a basic flaw in Mr. Trump’s childish bullying practices and paranoia: the rulings that are deemed as “unfair” because he didn’t get what he wanted.

Mr. Trump’s proposal to build a wall separating Mexico “and have Mexico pay for it” promotes a first step toward isolationism, a tactic that will, without a doubt, cause harm to the US economy, citizenry and our country’s image throughout the world. His position for non-support of NATO is another step toward dangerous isolationism.

Mr. Trump  has spoken of global warming as a hoax, but seeks permits to build a(nother) wall to protect his golf course in Scotland (citing coastal erosion and a rising sea level). This is a prime example of his hypocrisy.

Mr.Trump changed his position on gun control, especially in regard to assault-type weapons. While once supporting an assault weapons ban and longer waiting periods, his recent switch is an effort to gain NRA support and paint Mrs.Clinton as one who would “abolish the Second Amendment”.

Mr.Trump made an extraordinary plea for a foreign power to continue cyber espionage against America. In Donald Trump’s own words: “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,” Trump said at a press conference in Miami, Florida on Wednesday. “I think you’ll be rewarded mightily by our press!”

Many have questioned whether such a call by a presidential candidate is a crime or is treasonous. At the very least, it is a statement that makes it apparent that Mr. Trump lacks the judgment and temperament to assume the role of the president of our country.  Federal law does say that it's illegal to "counsel or induce" someone else to commit a crime, and a former federal prosecutor says Trump's statement "approaches the line."

Mr. Trump’s persistent criticism of Muslims and his suggested ban on immigration are counter to long-established values and practices that are inherent in the Constitution and in the American experience. His brash blanket statements reveal the wrong things about American character.

In the poignant appearance of Muslim lawyer Khizr Khan and his wife whose son, Humayun, an Army captain who posthumously received a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart and was buried at Arlington National Cemetery after he was killed by a suicide bomber in Iraq in 2004, is a testimony to the cruel injustice of Donald Trump’s proposed Muslim ban and his ignorance of the U.S. Constitution  and to his apparent lack of awareness of what really makes America great already. 

As his wife, Ghazala, stood silently by his side, Khan held up a copy of the Constitution and asked Trump if he had ever read it and said, “You have sacrificed nothing.”

You can view, by clicking the link provided here, the heart wrenching appearance of this intelligent, patriotic, and grieving Muslim mother and father in their DNC convention appearance talking about the loss of their son and passionately addressing  Mr. Trump for his Muslim discriminatory statements.

Quoting Tony Schwartz, the ghost writer of The Art of the Deal, a man who learned a lot about Mr. Trump during his writing process, "People are dispensable and disposable in Trump’s world. If Trump is elected President, the millions of people who voted for him and believe that he represents their interests will learn what anyone who deals closely with him already knows—that he actually couldn’t care less about them."

The possibility that Donald Trump could be elected as President of the United States of America is a frightening one. If that were to happen, it would be a constitutional disaster for our democracy and a catastrophe for our country’s  freedoms, safety and security. I am paraphrasing the Democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton, when she stated that the fact that anyone who can be baited with a Tweet has no business anywhere near the nuclear codes. And to think that, as a nominee of the Republican Party, Donald Trump will soon be given, as is traditional, National Intelligence Security briefings! These are all the types of thoughts that keep me awake at night.

Note: My various blogs are, not only meant to be informative for various types of reading audiences on various subjects, but are also intended to be promotional and lend public exposure to my published books.

I am the author of three award-winning children's books that aim to advocate for the well-being, education, and entertainment of children. The books include What Would You Do? A Kid's Guide to Staying Safe in a World Strangers (published by Headline Books, Inc.), Scary Ghosts and Playful Ghosts: Children's Tales of Fright and Delight (published by Crimson Cloak Publishing), and The Bully and the Booger Baby: A Cautionary Tale (published by Write Solution Ink).

Readers may also access book information, as well as useful information and resources that advocate for the education, well-being and entertainment of children by visiting my book website, Melissa Harker Ridenour Books.

Purchase information for these books can be accessed via my Amazon Author Page.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Mean Girls: Recognizing and Addressing the Girl Bullying Problem

Bullying is an increasing problem for both boys and girls. However, when we think of bullying we often think mostly about the type of bullying that boys do, because most studies about bullying focus on boys as aggressors. The truth is that girls can be bullies too, and when girls bully it can be an entirely different kind of beast. When we think of bullying we tend to think of physical violence and outward taunting, but when girls bully their tactics are often quiet and covert.

To casual observers it can be hard to distinguish a group of girls who are bullying apart from a group of girls who are innocently standing around. Girls socialize differently than boys, and, as girls get older, their peer interactions and relationships become less physical and increasingly more cerebral. Girls engage in verbal bonding by sharing stories, hopes, and dreams. Since girls bond differently than boys, it makes sense that the way they bully would be different as well.

When girls bully they use things like alienation, ostracism, deliberate and calculated random exclusions, and spreading of rumors to harass their peers. Girls get other kids to gang up on one or more peers as a way of exerting control. Sometimes they entice other children to act out aggressively and sit back to watch the show. They form groups that pick and choose members at random and exclude others without real reason. They form alliances with other social groups in an effort to jockey for popularity and positions of power among peers. 

All too often the bullying tactics used by girls are brushed off as cruel but normal social interactions.
Girls who bully use tactics such as alienation, ostracism, deliberate and calculated random exclusions, and spreading of rumors to harass their girl peers.Girls get other kids to gang up on one or more peers as a way of exerting control. Sometimes they entice other children to act out aggressively and sit back to watch the show. They form groups that pick and choose members at random and exclude others without real reason. They form alliances with other social groups in an effort to jockey for popularity and positions of power among peers. All too often the bullying tactics used by girls are brushed off as cruel but normal social interactions. Girls bully by using emotional violence. They do things that make others feel alienated and alone. Some of the tactics used by girls who bully include:
  • anonymous prank phone calls or harassing emails from dummy accounts
  • playing jokes or tricks designed to embarrass and humiliate
  • deliberate exclusion of other kids for no real reason
  • whispering in front of other kids with the intent to make them feel left out
  • name calling, rumor spreading and other malicious verbal interactions
  • being friends one week and then turning against a peer the next week with no incident or reason for the alienation
  • encouraging other kids to ignore or pick on a specific child
  • inciting others to act out violently or aggressively
It needs to be recognized that boys aren’t the only bullies, as girls bully too, only in more subtle ways that parents and teachers don’t always recognize.  Being singled out, ridiculed, excluded, or alienated is a form of bullying. Being beaten up emotionally on a daily basis does damage to the victims. It is just mean, and mean girls are bullies. It is time that the problem was addressed for what it is, a gender difference in bullying but bullying none-the-less.

Adults sometimes fail to address girl bullying because the mindset still exists that not all kids can be friends and the social structure of the school system encourages the formation of groups and reinforces the idea of social hierarchies. This makes many adults slow to recognize things like exclusion and alienation as something sinister. These behaviors are often dismissed as an unfortunate part of the normal formation of peer groups.

It is normal for girls and boys to form social groups and close bonds with certain people, but to do so at the exclusion of others is a form of bullying. It is especially so when those groups make power plays over other groups or individuals. Having friends is one thing; but having friends who work to make others feel that they are not good enough to be included is another. Playing the popularity game in a way that causes fear or inadequacy in others is a form of bullying and it is a common tactic used by girls.

Listed below are some steps girls can take if they are being bullied by other girls:
  • Ignore the girl bully as often as possible. Bullies crave attention, and female ones aren't much different. If she bothers you, she'll expect a response, so if you decide not to give her one, she'll eventually grow bored with you.
  • Tell a trusting adult. Make sure you tell them not to mention your name so you aren’t labeled a snitch. By doing so, not only will you get your problem out, but you'll also be getting it off your chest, and sharing it with someone who cares. 
  •   Make eye contact with the mean girl bully. Eye contacts shows confidence, that you couldn't care less what she does. If she can sense you're 'weak' or scared, she'll go after that. When you're making eye contact, and she looks at you, just give your hair a flick, smile, and turn away.
  • Use your words, not your fists. However, if you are being physically threatened, (with guns, knives, etc.) do whatever you can. Do NOT start a fight or a riot; it will only create tension, and an audience, which may lead to a principal or boss pulling you into their office for a talk.
·         Find the girl bully’s weakness before she finds yours. This is the key to making her stop. Make her feel bad about bullying and try to shut her up so that she can't bother you. In other words, say something that she can't answer. Nevertheless, make sure it's not something that she can later make a comeback from.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

How to Stop Bullying with Self Confidence and Assertiveness

Childhood can be a difficult, particularly if bullying has become a problem. Bolstering self confidence and practicing assertive defensive strategies can help to stop a bully.
In the words of Eleanor Roosevelt, “Nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent.” W.C. Fields summed it up even more succinctly when he said, “It ain't what they call you, it's what you answer to.” Having self confidence and positive self esteem is a valuable tool in protecting a child from being the target of a bully.

How to Bolster Self Confidence to Stop Being the Target of a Bully
In order for a child to be self confident, he must first portray self confidence, even if he is just acting at first. A child must stand up straight, smile and make eye contact with peers to portray self confidence. A child with low self esteem should always act as though he’s wearing an invisible crown – royally worthy and able to take on any problem that may come his way.

If a child or teen lacks confidence and self esteem, he must take steps to rebuild that confidence and esteem.  Children should pursue enjoyable activities that they do well. They should explore new interests and expand their talents and skills. Because bullying can affect self confidence and leave one feeling rejected and alone, it’s important that children try to make new friendships with other children who have similar interests. They should participate in extracurricular activities, social clubs, after-school programs, church youth groups, or sports teams. Bolstering confidence, interests, and friendships will make a child or teen less of an inviting target for a bully.

How to Use Self Confidence and Other Defensive Strategies to Stop a Bully

·         To stave off a bully, a child should behave in a confident manner by standing straight, holding his head up high, and, by all means, making eye contact with the bully. He should remember to walk confidently too. A bully will be far less likely to single a child out as a target if he portrays self confidence and positive self esteem.

·         A child should avoid situations where bullying can happen. He should try, if at all possible, not to be alone with a bully. If he is victimized on the way to or from school, he should take a different route or leave at a different time. He should seek others with whom to walk to and from school and extracurricular activities. He should always avoid areas that are isolated or unsupervised by adults, and stick with friends as much as possible.

·         A child or teen’s confidence should not be found in the form of any kind of weapon. A child absolutely should not carry a gun or other weapon because doing so will not make him any safer. Not only is it illegal for a child or teen to carry a handgun, but guns escalate conflicts and dramatically increase chances of being harmed.

·         If a child sees others being bullied, he can probably relate to how they feel. He should refuse to join in if a bully tries to solicit him to taunt another child. Even though he may fear the bully will turn on him if he doesn’t participate,  he should stay firm.
·         A child can try to defuse a bullying situation by drawing attention away from the targeted person or by asking the bully to “cool it and give the guy a break.” He should always be careful not to put himself at risk though. Immediately seek help from a teacher, counselor, the principal, or some other responsible adult. 
·         A child or teen should talk frankly with his parents and teachers if there is a bullying problem in his school. He should try to help them understand that bullying shouldn’t be dismissed as a normal part of growing up. He should encourage his parents to talk with the school administration to advocate for a commitment to end bullying by implementing closer supervision, improving school and classroom climate, and forming and enforcing clear rules and standards against bullying in order to better protect all students. 

Important Points to Remember

When times get tough for a child, it’s important that he knows there are people he can count on. If he is being bullied, tough times can seem even tougher. A victim of a bully should remember to stand firm, be confident, and confide in parents and other trusted adults so that they can provide the necessary support. A child doesn’t have to put up with bullying.  He must be strong, assertive and confident. He should let the lyrics from Eminem’s song, “Bully”, be his mantra: “And I ain’t bowing to no bully. I won't allow it, ain’t no coward to no bully. I'll be damned if I don't stand up to a bully. Fight like a man and throw my hands up to a bully.” 

My book, The Bully and the Booger Baby: A Cautionary Tale is a children's fiction book about bullying that also includes a chapter of researched strategies for children, parents, and schools to employ to address the bullying situation. Purchase information for the book, as well as for my other children's books can be accessed via my Amazon Author Page.

Readers may also access book information, as well as useful information and resources that advocate for the well-being and entertainment of children by visiting my book website, Melissa Harker Ridenour Books.