At the recent workshop on Parenting Skills “Upgrade” we discussed how life has changed and how things are more stressful for all of us including children. A common theme I’m beginning to see is the need for us to upgrade our understanding of how stress takes us out of relationship with ourselves and others. How the traumatizers not only traumatize others but themselves. We have gotten into negative neurophysiological feedback loops within ourselves and each other.
In the next two newsletters, I want to “upgrade” your understanding of the issue of Bullying because it reflects the tip of the iceberg of violent behavior that can only be shifted through understanding that what is driving the behavior we see is what is beneath the iceberg. We have the ways and means to turn things around; all we need to add is a willingness to join the path others are leading.
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Beginning with ourselves we need to awaken to and tame what hides within ready to spring out on others. Children reflect what they have learned and are learning from the adult world whether from parents, teachers, the media, religious and other organizations. We can’t expect our children to do better than we are doing. Yet that is what we continue to do. We continue to have a punitive mentality when it comes to mistakes children make as a natural course of being a child.
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We expect children to think and act like adults. I’m not so sure when it comes to the issue of bullying that they are not doing that. We have workplace violence, domestic violence, and world-wide violence against women and girls because they are female. The value and history of women is still not given a proper place even with organizations like the National Women’s History Project.
I recently watched the movie Bully and read the companion book. The movie released in April, 2012 is a documentary that began in 2009 after much research by Director Lee Hirsch and Producer Cynthia Lowen. They decided that in order to fully capture the reality of this issue, they would need to be able to get on the front lines. This meant finding a school that would be willing to allow them to film what went on in the student body for an entire academic year, not an easy task. The Workplace Bullying Institute in Bellingham, Wash., is run by Gary and Ruth Namie, who are dedicated to the eradication of workplace bullying. They had recently published the first study of the incidences of workplace bullying funded by The Waitt Institute for Violence Prevention based in Sioux City, Iowa. The executive director of WIVP, Cindy Waitt, introduced Hirsch and Lowen to Sioux City Superintendent Dr. Paul Gausman, and they subsequently received permission from the Sioux City Community School Board to film throughout the school district for the 2009-2010 school year: a very courageous move on their part.