May 31, 2010

Cyber Bullying - Luke's Story

Luke was an 11-year-old boy when he first came to optimistic kids. He was not at all gifted as sport however was extremely good with computers and solid academically. Even though he was not the most popular boy at school he facilitated an Internet chat room for his classmates that were much frequented in the hours after school.
Unfortunately a group of kids at school began using the chat room as a forum for cyber bullying Luke. As moderator of the chat room this placed him in a very difficult position. The chat room was outside of school hours and not directly to do with the school and yet the bullying was being perpetrated by children who attended his school. It was obvious that the situation was not going to be resolved swiftly.
Needless to say that the situation was extremely stressful for him and he needed some strategies to help him get through to the other side of this large adversity. Luke’s skills of resilience and optimism were initially very low. He tended to blame himself for the situation; in spite of the being no evidence that he had in any way upset these children. He also believed that this situation would never come under control and that he would have to give up his role as moderator and even as participant in the very chat room that he facilitated. At his worst moments he believed that he would even have to leave his school.
Through teaching him the skills of resilience and encouraging him to apply them both at home and at school he was able to cope with this difficult situation over the course of the three months that it took to resolve. Luke was taught “real time resilience” in which he was able to apply accurate resilient thoughts to challenge and replace the many and varied negative thoughts that were entering his head and controlling his feelings. In this way he was able to come up with rational alternative thoughts that reduced his level of distress to a point where he was able to get through his school day.
He was also able to see that this situation would ultimately be brought under control given a combination intervention by Optimistic Kids, the school and some supportive and assertive parents. (His own parents and some of those of the children from the chat room). Luke’s parents were also instrumental in fostering at home the resilient and positive attitudes that he was being taught by Optimistic Kids and coaching him in being more assertive with other children.
Luke’s story is more common than we would like it to be and provides a picture of a child whose school life could have gone either of two ways: either leaving school with a potential descent into depression and a target for further bullying, or being able to remain at his school and use this as an opportunity to build resilience and some of the thinking skills that would service him well into the future.
The epilogue to this story is that seven years later I received a phone call from Luke, extremely concerned about a good friend of his. Luke was studying at a university interstate, having continued through to the completion of his secondary schooling with very good marks and at his original school. In his university friend he had observed some of the old thinking patterns and behaviours that he had experienced when he was going through the cyber bullying. He was concerned that his friend was not coping well, and may end up leaving university. He wanted to know where he could get resilience training for his friend. It was extremely pleasing and reassuring to see that not only had Luke continued to use his resilience and optimism skills over the course of the seven years since I had first met him, but that he was also able to identify a potential problem in his friend and take assertive action to deal with it.
Once learnt, the skills of resilience and optimism can be used to give children positive attitudes for life.
Simon Andrews on behalf of Enough is Enough
Enough is Enough High School Programs
Your Life - Your Responsibility (Yrs 7-12)
Years 7-9: Focus: Building resilience, dealing with bullying, accepting change
Years 10-12: Focus: Facing challenges, building personal responsibility, making a difference, staying motivated.
Using the real life story of a senseless act of violence, this session encourages students to focus on personal responsibility, overcoming adversity, facing fear, maintaining self control and building inner strength, resilience an developing leader-ship skills. Presenters share how a major traumatic experience changed the life of one man, turning personal tragedy into hope for others. Challenges young people to truly understand the meaning of living their lives to the full. Our keynote workshop/seminar, can be tailored for small groups or as a large presentation.
Call us for more information on 02 9542 4029

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May 21, 2010

Cyber bullying

Psychologist Simon Andrews has found through his research and experience that many children benefit greatly when taught to look at situations in a more accurate and positive way. Research indicates that optimistic thinking builds resilience against depression. Please read our interview with Simon Andrews about Cyber bullying.

What do you believe cyber bullying is?
Cyber bullying is any type of bullying where technology is used as the method of delivery. It is far more intrusive than traditional school bullying because it can occur anywhere and at anytime. Children can receive threatening text messages at any time of the day no matter where they are. They can have their social networking pages smeared with untruths. Other children can impersonate them on the web or by phone, with a view to humiliating them.

Are you concerned about cyber bullying?

I am definitely concerned. It is difficult enough for children, parents and schools to deal with traditional bullying, however cyber bullying takes these unacceptable behaviours into a realm where children are the experts and adults have some catching up to do. Everyone knows that if you are having a problem with your computer then you ask the youngest person in the room to fix it for you. In the same way children, preteens and teens are also expert at the new communication technologies. This means that cyber bullies have more time and space to perpetrate their threats before they can be brought to account. In turn this means that the victims are suffering longer before adults can catch up and do something about it.

How do you think cyber bullying affects people, in particular children?
It can be more potent than being bullied in the school yard, because not only can it follow you home, it comes into your house and your bedroom. Cyber bullying comes with you to sport on the weekends and to your grandmother's house for tea. The end results include anxiety, depression, school refusal, psychosomatic complaints (nausea, stomach-aches and headaches for which there is no medical reason), and at its worst suicidal thoughts, plans or completion. The effect on school results in naturally negative, with falling grades and lower motivation for school. The effect on family life is also observable with increased irritability, more time spent in the bedroom and in being reluctant to be involved in social occasions.

How can cyber bullying be stopped?

Children, preteens and teens need to be coached in how to behave online and on their phones. If they receive a threatening message then they must not reply and should not delete it from their phone or computer in order that it can be used as evidence. All protections need to be put in place to ensure that only those people you want to have your details are able to access them. Parents need to do their best to become familiar with all of the new technologies and latest versions of these. These change rapidly and require frequent revisits to ensure that they know which application their children are using and how to actually use it...and who better to give you a lesson than your own child! They usually enjoy the chance to show Mum and Dad that they know more than them. Other means of limiting the parts of your children's lives where the cyber bullying can get to them is to limit use of mobile phones and computers to the living areas of the house and that all devices are turned off at a certain time each night.

Who is responsible for managing cyber bullying issues?
In short, we all are. The child must take responsibility to behave safely online and to report bullying immediately to parents. Parents need to do their bit to have well coached children and to be up to date with the latest applications and devices. Schools can take action for bullying within the school context. In extreme cases where physical safety or life is threatened then the police need to become involved. Cyber bullying has the power to be more potent than traditional bullying, so it demands our attention. A little bit of time spent in coaching safe behaviours and in being up to date can prevent a lot of suffering, or worse, in the future.
Simon Andrews on behalf of Enough is Enough

May 12, 2010

Women's Responses to Partner Violence - Australian Bureau of Statistics

One of the most common forms of violence against women is that perpetrated by a husband or an intimate male partner. Partner violence can affect the physical, mental and reproductive health of those who experience it. Women who experience violence from their partner may respond in different ways. They may feel shame or self-blame, and cope by denying or understanding the seriousness of their situation. They may also report the violence to the police, and/or leave their partner. Some women may leave and return to their partner several times.

In 2005, 35% (or 28,800) of women who had experienced violence in the previous five years from their current partner had separated from, then returned to their partner at least once. Almost half (46% or 13,300) of these women said that the main reason they initially left was because of the violence.A woman may experience violence from a partner while separated from them. In 2005, one in four (25% or 46,7000) women, who had experienced partner violence and temporarily separated from their partner, reported that they had experienced violence from their partner during the temporary separation.
After ending a violent relationship, some women are stalked by their previous partner. Stalking refers to a range of activities, such as repeatedly waiting outside a person's workplace and/or home. 20% OR 65,3000 of women who had experienced previous partner violence during the last five years had also been stalked by a previous partner during this time.

Looking for a help from the police and /or turn to family, friends, professionals
In response to violence, women may seek help from the police and/or turn to family or friends, or professionals like doctors or counsellors.

The majority 81% or 245,000 of women, whose most recent experience of physical assault during the last five years was by a partner, said that they had told other people, such as family, friends, neighbours or colleagues.
Just over a third 36% said they had sought professional help, that is, from a doctor, counsellor, minister or priest.Just 77% or 50,700 of women sexually assaulted said that they had told other people, and 31% had sought professional help. The tow most common main reasons given by women who said in 2005 that the police were not told of the physical assault was that they felt they could deal with it themselves (40%) and fear of their partner (14%).
Almost two-thirds (63% or 71,3000) of women who reported the physical assault to the police said that the partner was not charged.

There are organisations set up to help people experiencing domestic violence:
If you are in immediate danger, call the police on OOO.
To find your closest source of help, go to: Click on ‘Take me to the Lifeline Service Finder’. Type ‘domestic violence’ in keywords.Type your suburb/town in ‘location’.
If at this point you just need to talk, Lifeline is happy to talk to callers any time.
Call 131114


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