Preventing bullying

As the new term at schools commences there will be many children and parents concerned about the bullying that sadly exists within schools. Hardly a day goes by when we are not hearing about a tragic account of either face to face or cyber bullying and the drastic affect it has on the victims. Schools and parents should be reminding pupils to take responsibility for their actions and just how dangerous bullying can be when it gets out of hand…banter is only banter when everyone is laughing.

Only this week I was talking to a mother who expressed her frustration in the poor way her son’s school had reacted to her pleas for help. This was also the subject of a phone in today on This Morning TV.  Sadly, parents who are faced with a distraught child are often feeling so understandably emotional and helpless that they do not have the energy to fight their child’s corner. In addition they can be met with reluctance by some schools to actually deliver the ‘anti-bullying programme’ they are duty bound to impose.

I echo the advice given today; if your school are not proactive, talk to the chair of governors, local authority or when appropriate the Police.  Please read my piece on tackling cyber bullying on Innovate My School’s website:- 

http://www.innovatemyschool.com/industry-expert-articles/item/1670-how-schools-can-tackle-cyberbullying.html

Support for eating disorders

Recently watched the Panorama programme dedicated to eating disorders in men and boys presented by Nigel Owens the Rugby referee. Worrying stats were revealed of young men being affected by eating disorders with 42% increase in referrals over the last two years.

As with most mental illnesses intervention early really does aid success for recovery. Sadly youngsters wait far too long for referrals for support help and often are turned down because of shortage of staff and a variety of other factors.

We all keep hearing how the government are investing billions into this area with aims to see children within four weeks, one week for real emergencies! In reality this will be impossible to achieve meanwhile a lot of male youngsters suffer in silence.

The documentary covered various cases demonstrating the devestating affects on the body and mind with 13 -17 most at high risk. It revealed facts from support agencies; Beat charity receive 20,000 calls a year. Often eating disorders are viewed as ‘female illnesses’ when this is clearly no longer the case – even so this ‘assumption’ can make it harder for parents and GP’s to recognise/diagnose.

As ever modern media plays its part in making youngsters concerned about their visual appearance and so it starts. Often eating disorders are associated with boys who are struggling to come to terms with their sexuality too.

Nigel closed the episode by saying it is a strength to admit one has a problem not a weakness, and advising viewers not to be like him still suffering some 27 years on. Get help and stay one step a head and have a chance of recovering.

 

Our children..our most precious gift

I am finally getting around to typing up my reflective notes for my journal from all the amazing documentaries I have been watching over the summer. On July 21st my blog was dedicated to Olly Alexander’s ‘Growing up Gay‘ but today I would like to quote from his emotive closing advice and comments:-

 ‘Be honest about our wounds and scars –it’s part of the process. Encourage positivity –be your authentic self. It should be normal for parents to be able to talk to their kids as they deserve a happy life.‘

To echo his honest and heartfelt thoughts, I would like to add a comment I heard on TV from Alan Titchmarsh:

‘We can only ever be as happy as our happiest child!’ 

Think about that one for a moment and ask those awkward questions or at least give your child the platform on which to open up…Remember they are only ever on loan to us.

‘Growing up Gay’

I have to agree with recent media comments that everyone whether Gay or not should watch Olly Alexander’s documentary ‘Growing up Gay’.  It gave a very honest insight into the many problems that teenagers have in coming to terms with sexuality. It covered bullying within schools, self harming and eating disorders as well as drug addiction.

As ever it included worrying statistics about the mental health issues that young people face and the damage and low self-esteem often from rejection by parents…sometimes leading to homelessness for many.

However, Olly also allowed cameras to film his participation in Diversity Role Model schemes being rolled out in some schools, with positive statistics that 40% of students used homophobic vocabulary before the sessions and reducing to 15% after.

Those that regular follow my blog know I do my bit to support anti-bullying and again this programme showed how students suffer in silence preferring not to tell the school or their family.

I whole heartedly agree with Olly’s comments that awareness and consideration to LBGT should form part of sex education within schools, the earlier we are encouraged to be accepting of others the better.

I know that as with other similar documentaries Olly’s will hopefully encourage those struggling to talk to somebody and get support.

Be kind to one another this weekend and remember to ask ‘how are doing?’ and be willing to listen. Be that friend.

Start the week with kindness

Regular followers will know I often write about kindness and how it is a strength and not a weakness.  As children we were taught to be considerate of others and their feelings and how simple acts of kindness can go along way.

Somewhere in the midst of modern media the kindness factor seems to have disappeared and replaced with bullying as though it is ok to be unkind, rude and insensitive. I encourage mothers of teens to get them off of social media and out in the community.  Working with families I see on a regular basis just how damaging the ‘modern techno fun’ really is. Cyber bullying is causing all sorts of health and emotional issues for students and at a time when they are really vulnerable.

‘It’s a generation thing’ I am constantly told..sorry that doesn’t ring true it’s either right or wrong and hiding behind technology is no excuse.

I consider myself so lucky to have had a great mentor and friend in my own mother who quoted positively on a daily basis.  ‘A Mother’s Love’ Gospels according to Dorothy is available to download from Amazon Kindle which includes her story and mine and simple parenting advice.

Mother-s love (1)

Being kind can be cool you know kids!! 

Bullying in schools

At last we see the subject of bullying tackled in our various soap programmes, dramas and day time chat shows. What worries me is how much of this still goes on in schools without the victims of bullying and their parents seemingly powerless to stop it.

Aside of the 24/7 bullying via the various types of media available to our children to misuse and become the target of bullying on site bullying still goes on too. What a lot of people do not realise is that even bullying taking place outside of school hours and away from the school premises can have repercussions for the bullies. Students can be excluded from school and from taking exams a point some may need to be reminded of and that they must take responsibilities for actions

If a student’s wellbeing is being affected and his/her school work and attendance suffers then the school have the power to take the bullies to task. Moreover schools must be seen to be taking bullying seriously and following the guidelines and procedures and if you feel your school is failing your child, first point of call after the Head teacher would be the Governors.

Sadly so many children who are being bullied remain silent but there are signs as parents and teachers to look out, the NSPCC and Childline websites list the signs including becoming isolated, change in sleep or eating patterns. Often children who selfharm or who have eating disorders are doing so because of bullying. It is not just children with SEN’s that are bullied though they are often targeted.

Please read my article on Innovate My School’s website:-

http://www.innovatemyschool.com/industry-expert-articles/item/1670-how-schools-can-tackle-cyberbullying.html

 

The Oesophageal Patients Association

The OPA give great support to and raise awareness of Oesophageal health issues.

Their newsletter dropped into my mailbox this morning and I am asking my friends, followers and fellow bloggers to sign their Heartburn Medication Petition. The link can be found below:-

https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/177322

The petition has been launched to apply pressure on the Government to ensure that all packets/bottles of heartburn medication carry a warning on the importance of consulting one’s GP if symptoms persist for more than three weeks.

I fully support this movement, when I cleared my Mother’s home out there wasn’t a handbag or drawer that didn’t have an indigestion remedy in it…perhaps if her symptoms had been given the attention they deserved she would not have spent her last year or so suffering the horrendous effects of cancer.

Remember: Oesophageal problems if left untreated can lead to all sorts of longer term serious health issues. Taking remedies is not the answer that just treats the symptoms not the problem, listen to your body, get a proper examination and ignore the adverts.

Please circulate the link and help this patients association make a difference.

What we cannot see

I sincerely hope our Prime Minister’s intentions to increase budgets for mental health assistance within the NHS and the Education sector comes to fruition. Sadly the things we cannot see are often dissmissed.

I was reminded today on an early morning walk as I approached a rather dense bush which was concealing a number of birds vocalising loudly… I couldn’t see them but they were there. This can be true of people in need of help with emotional problems they are struggling to overcome. If one has a leg in plaster or anything visual we automatically find people engaging and giving us sympathy.

I make a point of asking if somebody is ok whether they have a leg in plaster or not and I am mindful that people that either haven’t had children and/or their’s grew up in a different time seem indifferent to the stress of our teens today. It’s tough, the pace of life and expectations is great and with the added pressure of exams and continuing increase of cyber bullying and self-harming ..they need our help and support not our criticisms.

 

CAPTURING CHILDREN’S INTEREST

Get them reading and visiting the theatre whilst they are young…

Earlier this week I attended a talk on the history of pantomime and we discussed how taking our children to Panto may indeed be the first experience they have of attending a theatre.Such a shame the ‘elf and safety/fun Police’ stopped sweeties from being thrown into the audience.

It is never too earlier to introduce children into live theatre or musical events. I remember taking my own daughter and friends to the panto and local am dram shows and they always enjoyed the magical experience. When our children were studying for exams with ‘An Inspector calls’ as one of their books on the reading list –  an afternoon at the theatre to see the production on stage was a great help to the students in understanding the plot.

Actor Simon Callow is quoted in a daily today revealing it was his Grandmother who introduced him to ‘The Pickwick Papers‘ age just 13. So inspiring your child this way you may just be raising the next great actor as well.

Not sprouts! Yuk

On a Christmas inspired note… ‘The Daily Mail’ reports that brussel sprouts…yes that children’s favourite are indeed healthy for not just the body but the mind too. University research is being conducted into vegetables rich from vitamin A – could well be a positive element in the fight to find cures for Alzheimer’s. Here’s hoping the proposed trials prove fruitful.

Play nicely over Christmas fellow bloggers and followers and don’t over indulge too much..except perhaps on the vegetables.

Teenage stress

Any parent of a teenage son or daughter in today’s society is sadly aware of just how stressful life has become for our children. There are so many stress factors facing today’s teens; exams, acceptance from peers and even pressure to try drugs and huge sensitivity surrounding their visual appearance all increased via the use and scrutiny of media.

The pressures for some, certainly outweigh all the great advantages that modern technology bring, indeed those in suypportive roles are also recognising just how disruptive and cruel modern media can be in terms of cyber bullying.

Please read my article on Innovate My School’s website:-

http://www.innovatemyschool.com/industry-expert-articles/item/1670-how-schools-can-tackle-cyberbullying.html

If you have even the smallest inclination that your child may be struggling, then quite likely they are. Ask the question, be supportive and if necessary speak to their school too as the likelihood being the answer may be easier to fathom than you realise and pastoral and tutors can help your family unit turn things around.

Remember our children are only on loan to us and we owe it to them to look out for their well-being even at times when we may not actually like them…we will always love them.

Remind them how proud we are, don’t just say it to others..this gesture of affirmation may just be what they need if feeling vulnerable or concerned about their achievements and remember not everyone can be a great academic.