This may be “The Story” where people around the country say enough is enough.
That from Rosalind Wiseman, author of the best-selling book, Queen Bees and Wannabes, which was the basis for the movie Mean Girls. Wiseman coaches teachers, school systems with the Owning Up™ program, teaching kids to speak about social injustice and recognize the group dynamic that can lead to social cruelty and violence among young people.
Wiseman appeared on National Public Radio Wednesday to comment on the Lakeland cheerleader girl violence videotape intentionally captured to put on YouTube.
Wiseman doesn't like to blame videos or music for the escalating lack of civility in our society, but she asks parents to look at the words their kids are using to text message each other.
“Not everybody else’s kid but your kid” she says to the host.
“I don’t get over the shock of the brutality and the lack of civility that kids can have and I never get over the shock of a parent saying it can’t be my kid or if it is my kid, somebody else made them do it or they had a good reason to do it,” Wiseman says.
Verbal and physical abuse is a part of junior high and high school life and Wiseman says it can easily escalate into a need to put someone in their place.
Reality shows are giving our young people a skewed view of life she believes. When people are pitted against each other Wiseman says, they are being shown acting in their lowest common base way.
“So what it's doing is normalizing that disgusting way of interacting with each other so kids think that is normal and it’s funny."
Parents, as anyone might expect, are part of the problem she tells NPR. So many parents shy away from technology, from texting to social networks. Couple that with a “kids will be kid’s attitude and many children are going without a guide. I
As to the Lakeland cheerleader violence, Wiseman says violence in packs is not unusual, especially among kids who are in a high social hierarchy in school. And often kids from a higher socio-economic bracket think that the rules don’t apply to them.
In her coaching to students, Wiseman reminds them that reporting violence or bullying is not the same as tattling. Reporting means that change can be brought about while tattling just is launched to get someone in trouble.
School bullying verbal and violence is preventable. All it takes is one adult intervening and that can happen at any level. Perhaps it’s a school psychologist who gets it and can communicate with kids, or a principal who wants to be proactive and work with parents. One adult working with kids can make a difference.
The Safe School Ambassadors Program has trained 18,000 kids to be good will ambassadors in 400 schools around the country to intervene in anti-social behavior before it escalates.
On the positive side, Wiseman says more principals than ever are calling on coaches to help schools decipher the impact of the internet on their school culture before someone brings in a gun, sets fire or blows something up.
“I’ve seen a lot of principals say I’ve got to get a handle on this so I think we are turning the boat around a tiny bit.”
Wiseman recommends, if a child is acting out violently first – model good behavior they can follow. Then say “I’m so disappointed in you” followed by taking away their lines of communication, cell phones, texting, computers. Absolutely do not let a child have a cell phone in their bedroom she says, unless you want them up all night. Then take away a privilege that they value the most. Don’t cave on the consequences, she warns. Lastly, make it clear the sort of behavior that would make you proud.
The worst thing a parent can do?
“What parents do first and foremost is they seem to figure out a way to excuse their children’s behavior. And that act stops us from addressing this behavior or problems like it." #