Vladerag's Blog

It is always sad when a child dies, even more so when it could be prevented.  All death is sad, true.  But death before you really have a chance to live is so much more so.  So when a beautiful thirteen year old girl commits suicide, we want to know why.

I wont draw more attention to the story that led me to post this, families deserve to grieve in peace.  However, one thing the girls father said struck me, “In today’s society, he said, it wasn’t possible for his daughter to escape bullying. She’d go home on weekends, and the bullying would continue on Facebook.”

The quotation is straight out of the paper that reported this.

It struck me because the bullying can be escaped, and people, escpecially parents, need to know how to do this.

This article is written for parents, but can be adapted to any situation.  This is a step by step guide to stop your child from being bullied, so we will start at step one.

1. The first step in stopping bullying is knowing that it happens.  Ask your child about their day and listen to what they say.  They will probably say “Good,” and refuse to elaborate.  Don’t bother to press them, you arent likely to get a truthful response.  If they want to tell you all about their day, Great!  If not, get creative.

If you suspect your child is having trouble, making a quick call to their teachers can tell you a lot.  A good way to be clued into cyber bullying is to get an account of whatever social site your kids has, and make certain they friend you.  If you are their facebook friend, you will be able to see their pictures and their wall, so you will have a better idea what is going on online.

Keep an eye out for the usual warning signs.  Depressed mood, sliping grades, etc.  The biggest key is to not be overbearing, but at the same time to be observant.

2. When you know your kid is being bullied, take action.  First thing you want to do is try to encourage your kid.  The easiest way to make bullies powerless is to imbue your kid with self-esteem.  Let them know they are doing well, compliment them on how they look, on what they are doing, etc.

If you found out that they are being bullied without them telling you, dont tell them.  They will likely not want interference from you on the issue and probably wont believe anything you say.  Make sure you dont shower them with nicities either, they will notice and disregard you as weird.

Since your kids might not take what you say at value anyway, convince a relative to help.  Cousins are a good choice, approach them and let them know that a kind word here and there can help a lot.

Remember, the best way to beat bullying is to ignore it.  If it can be beat with self-esteem, that is the way to go.  Your child will feel even better for it.

3.  Except that doesnt always work.  Some bullys are either too clever with how they hurt people, or simply to viscous, or perhaps your child is just to depressed to resist.  No matter the case, this problem has gone beyond self-esteem issues.

Some would suggest running to the schools at this point, but there is an easier way of handling this.  Talk to the parents of the bullyers.  A personal talk with the bullies parents can do more for you than a meeting with the teachers.  Parents have more power over their kids lives, and (almost) no parent wants a bully for a child.

Once they realize they can get in trouble at home for what they do at school, you will have less trouble.

As for cyberbullying, this is when you ask your child to unfriend and stop contacting the bullies.  I say ask because you want them to do it themselves.  If they dont, well, it is time for step 4.

4.  The thing is, however, that some people dont care if their kid bullies others.  Or, it could be that it is all online, and you cant have a chat with the parents.

If you are dealing with people you can meet in person, now is when you go to the school.  With the recent incidents of suicide and violence, schools generally have zero-tolerance polcies in regards to bullying.  Make it clear that you expect them to be enforced.  Generally, you wont have to make a point of it.  Teachers and staff are usually more than happy to comply, and suspension is a message that should get through to the offenders.

If you are faced with a school that is less than helpful, remember that the principle is not the final authority.  Go above their heads and remember that school districts want nothing to do with scandals or problems.  If that doesnt work, step 5 is for you.

In regards to cyberbullying, this is when you pull the plug.  There is no step 5 for cyberbullying, because it should never go that far.  This is when your kid unfriends the bullys or you cut them off.  If they are not willing to block the bullies themselves, use parental controls.

Parental controls dont always work against computer savvy people, which your child likely is.  So you may have to do something more drastic.  If you happen to be computer savvy yourself, go the extra mile and modify your computers HOSTS file.  That is something generally out of most kids computer expertise.  Be sure to remember to block both the www. address and the one with out the www. because they have different IP addresses.

If you dont know how, or are uncomfortable with something so drastic.  The easiest way is to pull out the cable from your internet router.  No internet means no internet bullying.  If your kids need to do homework, reconnect it for a time.  But keep watch to make sure they arent going to facebook and other sites.

And when I say keep watch, I mean randomly take the computer from them and check every window and their history to make sure they arent pulling a fast one on you.  Be wary of “projects” that seem to take forever, and remember you can always ask the teachers if it exists.

5.  OK.  This is it.  By this point you have tried to encourage your child, talk to the bullies parents, talk to the teachers, and even go above them and talk to the districts.  You have tried almost everything you can do.  But not everything.

This is the final, most drastic way to stop bullying, and it will do it.

You see, many forms of bullying are not just amoral, but illegal.  Threats against your child are assualt, and you can have them arrested for it.  If (physical people) are using facebook and other networks to slander your child, you can make a case that it will interfere with their abillity to get a job in the future and get into college.  Because it will.  Businesses and colleges will check these things, and if they see things they dont like, it can really hurt.

Talking to the police is the final straw, a last resort, and not something to be taken lightly.  Make sure you have exhausted all other options before you do this.

6. While number 5 is really the last option for stopping bullying, if nothing else works, there is one more option:  Leave.  Change classes, change schools, change cities, just get your kid out from that enviorment.  Obviously, you shouldnt have to give into bullying, but being an adult means making some touch choices, and that might meen uprooting everything.

I hope this helps people out there.  Remember, you never need to give into bullies.


{October 26, 2009}   omg i txt 2 mch

Did you get the title?  Chances are your kid would.  You cant walk through a school, mall, or any place kids congregate without seeing texting.  Am i the only one annoyed by this?  Whatever happened to calling people?  Am I not worth the few seconds it would take to dial my number?  Am I not worth correct grammar, or even correct spelling?  The answer, in short, is no.

Kids these days are more addicted to their phones then cocaine.  When a class was asked if they ever left their phones home by accident, each said that they had had at least 100 texts waiting for them when they got home.  You know what the most amazing thing was?  One kid reported he had come home to over 500 texts on his cell phone.

I don’t know about you, but I didn’t know cell phones would hold 5oo texts.

I don’t know a single kid who would leave their beloved cell at home, much less be off it for more than ten seconds.  If you don’t get the picture yet, this will help.  They have texting rehab clinics!  You don’t need rehab for good things.

Texters have actually developed early arthritis and other old age problems with their joints, but they happen to be sixteen.  You know you are doing something wrong when you get a disease 50 years early because of it.

Still, I could overlook that if it wasn’t so annoying talking to them.  As you speak, they read and reply to texts, not even looking at you as their thumbs fly across the tiny little pad.  Are they paying attention?  Good question, I have no idea.  The person they are texting is apparently not worthy to hear their voice, and I’m apparently not worthy to bother paying attention too.

It is in the classrooms?  You bet!  Kid writing?  Nope, texting.  Reading?  His texts!  Listening, maybe to an iPod, but probably texting.

Forget H1N1, this is the real pandemic!  Soon all we will be reduced to is emoticons and single syllable pre-words before our culture collapses entirely.

{October 25, 2009}   OMG! Infection in our schools!

In every school across the united states, in every room, you will find hand sanitizer bottles.  Teachers provide them in their classroom, and some students even carry bottles around with them!  This is a reaction to the H1N1 outbreak, but does it actually work?

Many websites say, no, a hand sanitizer will not kill a virus like H1N1.  However, the Mayo Clinic website says that it can help slow the progression of a virus, but it is no more effective than regular soap, and may actually aid in the creation of superbugs.   

How do antibacterial soaps create superbugs?  Its the simple process of evolution!  The sanitizer kills by using chemicals

For those who have not heard the term yet, a superbug is a bacteria that is no longer effected by the majority of drugs, making it a nightmare for hospitals to treat and contain.

People tend to buy the same product over and over again.  This, in the case of antibacterial sanitizer, is actually a very bad thing.  Antibacterial’s kill bacteria with chemicals that interact with the cells in such a way as to damage the cell.  Depending on the active ingredient, this can happen in many different ways.

However, bacteria have been evolving against natures antibacterial since the dawn of life itself.  Give a bacteria enough time and it will evolve a solution to your antibacterial.

But isnt evolution a slow process?  In a word, sometimes.  You see, evolution is measured in generations, not in actual time.  And a single E. Coli bacteria can have a generation in 40 mins.  In other words, if i have 1 E. Coli, in two hours i will have 8 E. Coli, and three generations would pass.  Human generations are about every 60 years, and in that time, 31449600 generations of E. Coli will pass.  So E. Coli evolve much faster than we do.

So, it is actually possible for bacteria to evolve between the time you clean your counter.  And if your antibacterial becomes ineffective against one bacteria species, you will aid it by killing off all its competion with that same soap.  Eventually, washing your hands will become pointless.  Unless you rotate your sanitizer, not all sanitizer kill the same way you see.

Some general cleanliness rules are these:

1) rotate your sanitizer, having three different sanitizer is a good idea

2) make sure your sanitizer have different active ingredients, you can check this at the back of the case

Following these you will protect your house, but how can we protect our schools?  Remember, any one sanitizer will be ineffective after a while.  The honest answer is, we dont need to so much.  We should wash our hands in the bathroom yes, and a little hand sanitizer isnt bad.  But gobs of it, and all the time?  There is no more risk of infection now, than there was 10 years ago, yesterday, or will be in 40 years.  H1N1 will either only be delayed, or it wont even be affected at all, by antibacterial, and our immune systems have handled bacteria from the time we evolved.

H1N1 has so far killed less people than bee stings, not only that, but we have treatments for it and a vaccine.  So that scare is overblown.  Hand sanitizer might actually be creating the next superbug, so that is sort of a bad thing. 

In other words, our schools are fine.  Anytime people want to stop overreacting is good.

{October 22, 2009}   Education in Public Schools

America has a serious problem, or should I say another, not to belittle the other serious problems that plague us.  However, this problem will haunt us now and forever, and it must be fixed.

A surge wont help, pulling out is truly not an option, and bombing probably crosses the line for morality.  The problem is our schools.

By high school, a student either cares a lot about his or her grades and is crazy over them, doesn’t really care what they do as long as they pass, or simply don’t care at all.

For the students who do care, the system doesnt do enough.  Some students would give up their right arm to join a program that will start them on the path they want now.

But this isnt about them, they will do well whether they wait a few years or start now.  This is slightly about the middle group, but mostly about the last group.  Those kids who dont care at all.

Why dont these kids care?  They dont think they will get into college, or they think they’d fail if they did.  They think that school is therefore pointless, and guess what?  They are right.  High School has no use for them, and they have no use for it.  All they contribute to is the crime that plagues a school, but that is a different story.

How can we help these kids?  We cant, we have already messed up.  By high school, despite popular opinion, teens are not impressionable.  They have got their impressions sorted out, and they are stubborn about it.

Therefore, the focus must be on our elementary and middle schools, and on the family.  even middle school is too late, elementary school is when it must be drilled into a kid’s head that school is fun, good, and awesome.  This cant be allowed to drop in middle school, and should continue all the way to high school, instead of building a net to catch those who fall through the cracks, lets seal the cracks.

I, being a high school student myself, see this first hand.  There are three groups: 1)  I must, will, and shall excel.  2) I’ll pass, i need school, somewhat. and 3) f**** school.  I have never, in three years in high school, seen a single person shift from group to another.

However, I do not remember these groups in elementary school.  That is the point, there weren’t.

Let us face the band and listen to the music, we cannot fix our high schools, but we can fix our newest generation.

I am not saying we should abandon our high schools, there are kids, myself included, who care.  However, most, if not all of our problems stem from that third group.  Drugs, alcohol, Sex, Gangs, this is group is the dealers, the buyers, the bangers (more ways then one), and they like it.

Slowly, if we fix the first years of school, we will see a turn around in society.  By instilling the love of learning in an early age, we can be sure they will stay out of the third group and graduate with at least decent grades.  When they start families, their life will be better than what preceded them.  In other words, we fix families by fixing our schools, instead of fixing our families to fix our schools.

It wont be an immediate change, probably not for many decades, but if we fail at this, America will cease to be worth living in.

et cetera