Monday, March 23, 2009

Do something!

I want to dedicate todays post to an issue weighing heavily on my mind. I have a teenage boy who has been dealing with relationship issues for a couple of years now. I can look at it only from where I stand...and it seems he has been on the receiving end so far. He's had to deal with several little girls who want to play emotional games and he ends up getting hurt because he's the "nice" guy. I try to listen carefully and read between the lines because I want to make sure he's as healthy emotionally as we can possibly influence. I want to make sure he's not doing the hurting...if he has to break up with someone I don't want him to do it in an abusive way. I've tried to teach him that words can have a profound effect on people, young or old, for his sake and the people he will come across in his relationships. We can't always help or fix things for our kids...but we can make sure they have the tools to deal with issues whenever we can. I've always tried to teach my boys and nephews to use words and not their fists. But I also refuse to allow them to become verbal sparring partners or punching bags for some. My babies also have a right to defend themselves. My oldest had early lessons with a bully in third grade. A big kid kept picking on my scrawny baby with glasses. The bully was constantly making fun of him and we talked with the teacher and principal, which only angered the kid. The issue escalated and the kid started pushing and tripping my son at every chance he found. One day the kid was pushing my son on the playground, behind the slide and out of sight of the "group" of playground monitors that should've been individuals walking around so there weren't "blind spots". Kiddo had enough and punched the boy in the mouth. Guess who got sent home for fighting. I insisted on a meeting with the teacher, parents and principal. During the meeting it came out that this was far from the first time that this little boy was in trouble for being a bully. The parents were very defensive and I could see where the kid got his attitude. Short story...we pulled kiddo out of the school and homeschooled him until they did something about the bully. Several months later the superintendent called and asked if we'd bring kiddo back. The family had moved and bully was no longer in kiddo's class. But he's still out there somewhere.

I had a story idea about six months ago for a young adult/teen book about domestic violence. But my current WIP's are front and center at the moment and I haven't had the time or desire to start something new. Teenage domestic violence has been a talked about issue recently and tragically brought into the spotlight with the news reports about the Chris Brown/Rhianna altercation. The Today Show on NBC had a short segment on the issue this morning so I want to send out the link in case anyone is interested. galvanizes teens/tweens to take action. There is a section on violence and bullying but it also just encourages teens to become active at a young age with issues we all deal with.

I was devastated to hear that one in three teens will be abused in peer relationships whether it's physical, mental or online. It's easy to say they've learned this through environment but that's not always the case. I remember how emotional I was in high school when it came to my first real love. I thought I would DIE when we broke up. Don't ask me the specifics because I can't remember all the drama behind it...I was the one that did the heartbreaking but wanted him back the second he started dating someone else. But between hormones and teenage angst...I'm sure it was made out to be more than it should've been. I even had a boy slap me once. ONCE. Little did he know that my mama raised me to be strong and independent and I had had enough crap in my young life to deal with for some silly little boy trying to put his hands on me. He left my house with the thought that I was a star player on my softball team and knew how to use my bat. Looking could've turned out really bad.

Education is the key. We've got to remember that regardless of age, color or financial status...we all have the right to live our lives without the fear of someone hurting us, emotionally or physically.


Kate Karyus Quinn said...

Great post, Chelle! The whole Rhianna/Chris Brown situation is so awful (especially if she really has gone back with him), but the one silver lining is all the attention it is bringing to this very important issue!

Stephanie said...

Awesome post! I was bullied in school and as a result, we're homeschooling all of my children. You can't shelter them, but you can make sure they're focus is actually on school and NOT bullies. I very rarely was able to concentrate, never studied, and got VERY depressed in school. My husband was homeschooled for very different reasons, but I feel like it's my responsibility to give my kids the best education. And by doing that, I have to go with my gut. Mean kids are everywhere, even within my church. In giving my kids a chance to concentrate better, I'm giving them the gift of a future.

Chelle Sandell said...

Kate ~ That was my thought. Hopefully more parents are realizing that and talking with their kids. Always before they may have blown off the idea because of their age and hormones.

Steph ~ The only reason I put the oldest back in was because they assured me that they were implementing a better system to handle situations like ours. He's still in school but we homeschool the 6 yr old. He went to Pre-K for a couple of months and we pulled him out. He wanted to try again when kindergarten started but he kept sneaking away from the teachers and nobody realized he was missing...two times. He had been doing well but we noticed that he was starting to slip and not progressing...actually going backwards. He was starting to get in trouble and I couldn't believe they had 24 5-6 yr olds for 1 teacher. He misses the kids but we try to make an extra effort to get him around my nephews, cousins and outside activities. At least we can monitor him now. Some of the things that happened or came home with him really worried me. My oldest mentioned he may consider it again. He's unhappy with the way the teachers are grading and handling class material.

PatriciaW said...

Domestic violence is a huge issue. Our teens are emulating what they see at home and in the media. They have to know that violence is not a solution, and that violence has consequences.

I too have boys and am teaching them to walk away or find other solutions when possible, but also to defend themselves, making sure they understand the difference between defense and offense, even with girls. Because there are a lot of little girls playing with abusive behavior, believing the boys should just take it. (No commentary on any recently publicized events. Don't know enough to comment.)

Chicki Brown said...

All I can say is Amen! Did you see Oprah's live show about the Chris Brown/Rhianna mess? She talked to groups of teens from two different high schools, one of which had buried their cheerleader friend the day before. She had been shot by her boyfriend. It was an excellent show.

Parents have the responsibility to teach their girls that it's never okay for a boy to put his hands on her. And they must impress on their sons that it's never okay to do so.

Jennifer Shirk said...

Wow, 1 in 3? That's scary. You're right, though, education about it is key.

Bella said...

What a wonderful post, Chelle. I always worry about my oldest, who's so easy going and shy, that someone will take advantage of her. But after I saw her reaction to Rihanna getting back together with Chris, I was relieved.

Like Jennifer said, 1 in 3 is scary.