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Bullying

Blog posts with a category of Bullying.

The blinding ignorance of stigmas

FCBK 1By Eli Zaret, New Oakland Community Liaison

Stigma: Something that distracts from the character or reputation of a person or group; a mark of disgrace or reproach. — Webster’s Dictionarystigma

 Stigmas are a tragic element of human nature, and I was saddened to read a facebook exchange between two friends of mine that provided a repulsive example of a common stigma and how poisonous all stigmas are.

Before I get to the example that I found so terribly disappointing, the topic of stigmas applies to what New Oakland and its patients regularly face: the stigma of mental illness.

No one chooses to be mentally ill, any more than someone chooses to be gay, black, Chinese or to have been brought up in Islam. But all of them carry stigmas, and in the minds of the ignorant masses, become a “mark of disgrace or reproach” as the above definition says.

Sadly, many people focus on the differences between us, rather than the much larger number of things that make us alike. I did a documentary last year on autism, and Rabbi Levi Shemtov, who does wonderful work with children with autism, corrected me by explaining, “We don’t say ‘autistic child,’ we say, ‘child with autism.’ It may sound like the same thing, but it isn’t. When we say ‘autistic’ before we say ‘child,’ we’re focusing on the deficiency rather that the person. After all, we all have deficiencies. Most importantly, this is a child who happens to have autism.”

The ugly example that sparked this was an exchange that took place between ex-Major League pitcher Lary Sorensen and Ike “Mega” Griffin, two former radio co-workers in Detroit. Griffin, a member of a minority as an African American, was responding to the recent news item that the father of Missouri football Michael Sam Jr. had been staggered when his son sent him a text that said, “Dad, I’m gay.” Michael Sam Sr. had been eating breakfast but then went to a bar to drown his sorrow. He told a newspaper, “I don’t want my grandkids raised in that kind of environment.” Griffin then wrote in facebook, “No father would be proud to have a gay son…” Continue reading

Cyberbullying: The dark and deadly side of social media

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By Lisa Kalinski, New Oakland Therapist

Kids have been bullying each other for generations. What makes it different now is the long-standing nature, the permanent nature of statements on line.

Rosalind Wiseman, Author of two books on bullying

If it takes a village to raise a child, it’s now taking a national awareness movement to prevent our children from causing devastating emotional wounds and provoking suicidal thoughts and actions on their equally young and fragile peers.

Social media has vastly intensified the ability to inflict relentless pressure and pain, and America has been jolted again by the suicide of 12-year-old Rebecca Ann Sedwick of of Lakeland, Florida, who leaped to her death from a cement factory silo.

Rebecca Ann Sedwick

Rebecca Ann Sedwick

What makes cases like this so deeply troubling is that Rebecca couldn’t escape. Her mother pulled her out of the middle-school, home schooled her and then had her transfer to a different school. But Rebecca’s 14-year-old tormentor still attacked on Facebook, telling her to “kill herself” and to “drink bleach and die.”  After Rebecca fell to her death the girl posted, “Yes I bullied Rebecca and she killed herself, but I don’t give a (expletive).”

It was then that the Polk County Sheriff arrested the 14-year-old on charges of aggravated stalking, a 3rd degree felony.

The viral effect of social media allowed her tormentor to recruit as many as 15 girls who picked on Rebecca for months through online message boards and texts. She had no effective defense, no hiding and no escape. Even her mother’s awareness and vigilance couldn’t shield her daughter from a prolonged and ultimately deadly attack.

The words of cyberbullies live online forever, keeping psychic wounds open and bleeding and leaving victims like Rebecca feeling that there is no way out other than to end her life. Continue reading

“Facebook” – The window into your child’s mental health

By Lisa Kalinski, Therapist, New Oakland

#1 parental concern:

Who is my child hanging out with; what activities are they engaging in, and how can I stay on top of it to ensure their safety and mental health?

Answer:

Since most kids won’t or can’t tell you what’s really going on with them, monitor their Facebook activity and you may just find what you’re looking for.

In the past, parents would be reduced to subterfuge, sneaking a peek at the diary in their daughter’s drawer, or listening in on their son’s phone calls. Now, it’s often right there in front of them if they’re willing to look at their child’s social media activity and suppress the urge to react right away. The key is to view multiple interactions or profile changes to gauge your child’s mental state. Then if you’re amply concerned, call a professional.

A University of Missouri study published in the journal Psychiatry Research points this out.

“The beauty of social media activity as a tool in psychological diagnosis,” says Elizabeth Martin, doctoral student at MU, “is that it removes some of the problems associated with self-reporting. By asking patients to share their Facebook activity, we were able to see how they expressed themselves naturally. Even the parts of their Facebook activities that they chose to conceal exposed information about their psychological state.” Continue reading