Will The Bully Be Held Accountable?

10170737_10151962442902653_7163878646663327259_nI have a story that it’s time to share. It’s not entirely my story to tell, but hey, are any of the stories I share here. A huge part of my role as parent is to advocate for my children. And as the kids get older the lines get a little blurred when it’s best to step in and when it’s best to let them advocate for themselves. It’s very tough for me to not butt in when I see something bad happening to my children. Here is the story of my 12 year old daughter’s bully.

It all started over a year ago. In December of last year (2013) my 12 year old sent me a text message that a boy on the bus cut her hair with a paper hole punch. I couldn’t for the life of me figure out how this came about and trying to get the story from her via text message while she was on the bus wasn’t easy. I called the school to see if they could shed some light on the situation.

I was told they would look into it and call me back. And later that night after my daughter was home and I was able to question her more and find out if there was any visible damage to her hair (there was not) I was able to piece together what happened. The vice principal of her school called me and assured me that he was handling this situation and he spoke to the child’s parents and consequences were given. He couldn’t tell me what those consequences were, but he felt that this was an isolated incident.

The school year went on and from time to time my daughter would come home complaining about this boy (we’ll call him Z) on the bus. Z said rude things and disgusting things on the bus today. Z called me a name. Z stripped naked. Z poured water on me. Every time I told my daughter to tell the Vice Principal. Eventually I called and spoke to him again about the water incident. I was told he was going to talk to him and would check in with my daughter frequently to see how she was doing.

Okay, well I guess they are handling this. Things were better, the school year ended and not much more happened.

A new year just brought new problems.  At the beginning of the school year this same boy ended up threatening my daughter, chasing her, and pushing her into a fence. This scared me because now he really put his hands on her in a violent way. I called the school and didn’t have my fears squashed. I wasn’t able to get in touch with the vice principal. I left messages and he wasn’t calling back. I was becoming angry. I called after days of being ignored and left a message saying that if I didn’t get a call back that I would have no choice but to go to the police about this situation.

Amazingly, threatening the law has a way of getting people to do things. I got a call right back then and discovered that the Vice Principal in all of this time hadn’t really investigated much of anything because he was shocked when I told him what exactly happened. He had been told about the situation, but I guess didn’t think it was as severe as it was. He assured me that consequences would be taken (but that he couldn’t tell me what those consequences were) and that he would continue to check in with my daughter to make sure things are going better.

3rd time’s a charm, right? Well, no not quite. Last week I got a text message from my daughter asking me if she could get breakfast at school. Knowing she had taken food from home I was curious why she would need to use her lunch money to get breakfast on this day. She said Z stole my breakfast and wouldn’t give it back, I had nothing to eat. I asked if she told the Vice Principal, she said she did, I asked what he said, and she said that he would talk to him. So he didn’t offer to get you breakfast? Nope. So I’m frantically calling the school at 7:30 in the morning trying to find out why no one is making sure my child had food when she was given food by me.

I was told they would get her breakfast and I asked to have the VP call me back. They assured me that both would happen. My daughter told me she did get breakfast, but she thinks she had to pay for it. I didn’t hear from the VP until dinner time that night.

Perhaps that was a blessing in disguise because it had given me a chance to get the whole story from my daughter. On this day she wasn’t even sitting near Z. She was several rows in front of him minding her own business. Z got up out of his seat and walked up to her and snatched her breakfast right out of her hand. The bus driver said and did nothing because as my daughter says, he doesn’t bother anymore because Z doesn’t listen.

My daughter got up out of her seat and confronted Z who told her that she could have it back if she gave him all of her RAFT Tickets (school incentive for good behavior). She refused so Z said, okay then give me your DS for the day. She refused that as well and then the bus driver yelled at her to get in her seat. She explained to the driver that he took her breakfast and all he did was tell her to take her seat. So two adults failed her on this day. I was livid.

So the VP talked to me about this situation and gave me a lot of nice words like usual. There will be consequences, we’re dealing with this, your daughter had breakfast. Yeah, only because I called to make someone feed her. I demanded that he be removed from the bus. He told me that that wasn’t going to happen and that he would have to talk to my daughter and this child and then would call me back the next day.

The next day was actually two days later. His plan was to put an aid on the bus and give Z and assigned seat. I said no way, I myself have had to speak with you about 4 incidences, you had to call me to speak to my daughter once because of something else this boy did to another child on the bus, he doesn’t deserve to be riding the bus. This is the only place the two see each other (Z is a grade ahead of my daughter). Seems to me that the safest thing that makes the most sense is he doesn’t ride the bus. And round and round we went.

I requested a meeting with the boy’s parents and the school principal. I got a meeting with just the vice principal. He said we would discuss the bully report that he is now FINALLY going to write. Now, after 4 incidences that I got involved in, but countless others my daughter had brought his attention to and he did nothing about.

That meeting happened today. Prior to going I talked to my daughter more. I knew there were some more times she had reported things to the VP, but she was always super vague about what happened. I pressed her about exactly what kind of things Z said to her and some of her friends.

He had asked the girls about their period and if they had it yet. He told them he would stop bugging them if another one of her friends would just go on a date with him. And he also talks frequently about condoms.

The period thing and the extortion of course are the biggest issue here. I also checked out the CT laws on bullying and there is an anti bully law which the school has been violating by not taking action sooner. So I went armed with all of this information today.

The Vice Principal I will say is a very nice man. And I do have to say this school is great. And this is a huge part of why I want the boy off the bus because the only place she has to put up with him is on the school bus.

So, for the meeting, we still went round and round. I am not confident in our plan, but he is writing up something with clear consequences which he will go over with my daughter and Z so they are both aware of what is being put in place. The aid will hopefully start on Thursday. He will be positioned on the bus in such a place that he should be able to intervene with anything. However, he could not guarantee me that Z’s assigned seat would be next to the aide therefore blocking him from leaving his seat to go after my daughter.

It also doesn’t appear this is necessarily a permanent solution. If he behaves, then it sounds like they plan on letting up the reins a little for him. Needless to say I’m not super confident, but there will be a written plan that I will have a copy of and Z’s parents will also have a copy of. If he violates this with any child, not just mine he will be subject to consequences.

I told my daughter that if he does ANYTHING to her she has my permission to defend herself, whatever that means at this point. Because lets be honest, what we have in essence is a piece of paper saying behave. There will be an extra adult on the bus which hopefully deters any bad behavior, but the bus driver gave up on him so I’m not sure what will happen with this aid.

I never want to condone violence, but in this situation I think my daughter has done everything she can. I told the Vice Principal that I do not expect to be called because she gets suspended or expelled for defending herself against a boy who has been bullying her for over a year now. He kind of had this you do what you gotta do attitude about this. I probably will end up having to fight for her to be allowed to remain on the bus if it does come down to her hitting him. But since all she has to protect her now is a piece of paper, I’m thinking that’s not acceptable. I hope she never has to find herself in that position, but if she does I hope it wakes this kid up and he stops messing with girls. Since he thinks it’s okay to get physical with her, then I guess the school shouldn’t mind when she gets physical back, right?

So that’s the story of the boy, Z, who has been bullying my 12 year old. It might not be over yet, but I am hoping it is.

Will The Real Bully Please Step Forward

Disclaimer: I am rating this post PG-13 for explicit language.  My posts normally would not consist of any swear words, but in this case to get my point across I have no choice.  The swears aren’t my words though.

Bullies are a terrible thing aren’t they?  But I think many times we can lose sight of who the real bully is.  Especially when we come into something late in the game.  But let me share some words with you that have been tossed around by the so called victims and the so called bully.  Lets see what actually constitutes a bully.

Deranged people, trolls, despicable, twisted followers, raging belligerent Douchebag, belligerent, assholes, toxic people, obnoxious, bitches, ass clowns, giant asshole, unstable, childish, ignorant.

Nice, right?  Now how does narcissist sound?  How about uneducated?  How about words like it’s okay to go to the hospital.  Your baby could be in distress, get to a hospital.  Take care of yourself and get to the hospital.  Several other comments along these lines made to a laboring woman attempting a HBAC (Home Birth After C-section).  How does that sound to you?

So Who’s The Bully?

Is the bully the ones who are hurling insulting swear words?  Is it the ones who are urging someone for her own safety to go seek medical help?  Looks pretty different when you get the whole picture, now doesn’t it.

These are all words taken directly from bloggers themselves.  Bloggers who claim to be a victim and bullied are throwing around words like Douchebag, assholes, bitches, ass clowns, giant asshole.  Those are the words they are using to describe their so called bullies.  And what warrants this?  Well, apparently calling someone a narcissist or uneducated.  And telling a sobbing laboring woman whose midwife left her alone that it’s okay to go to the hospital is bullying.

If the shoe fits, then I say wear it.  Lets look at the definition of a narcissist.  Here’s the definition of Narcissism according to Psych Central:

  Narcissism, in lay terms, basically means that a person is totally absorbed in self.

So let us say that a mommy blogger writes a post that is supposed to be about her child and her child’s accomplishments, but not for a narcissist.  That post suddenly turns into sharing all of mom’s accomplishments.  A post that should read like so these days my child is eating this and the milestones she has reached are walking and talking.  Sounds like a great gushing mommy post, right?  Well, the narcissist turns that post into and on this day my child accompanied me to do this for the very first time and made me the center of attention because she peacefully slept in my arms.

Then the other terrible awful bully accusation of being uneducated.  That’s pretty self explanatory.  And really if someone who has no formal education is portraying herself as an educated person when she’s not, then as I said if the shoe fits.

I’m not even going to touch on how telling someone to seek medical attention is bullying.  I can’t by any stretch of the imagination wrap my mind around that one.  Even if a woman says she has no intention of going to the hospital I can’t imagine how saying for your own safety and well being please seek help would be bullying.

The Great Blogger Bully Battle

I haven’t even gotten into what the comments are like on either side of the coin from these bloggers followers.  I will admit both sides can get vicious when pushed, but the comments coming out of the victim corner sure do resonate loudly.  And it’s not a wonder that the so called bully has to turn to another forum to get her point across because these particular always the victim bloggers only allow comments that say, “You are right on!  Those people are big meanie heads.”  However, the so called bullies allow everyone to have a voice on their blog.  It doesn’t matter if they come there and call the writer the biggest moron to ever walk the planet, that is allowed to stand.

Do you know what is happening on those bullies blogs?  Interesting debate is what’s happening there!  Do you know what’s happening on the always the victim blogs?  A whole lot of validation of that blogger.

I don’t know about you, but for me when I see a hot button topic I want to hear all sides of the argument and I want to make up my own mind about who’s right and who’s wrong.  I don’t want to be told what to think.  And isn’t that the biggest problem of all?  It’s not that these bloggers who are the perpetual victim are being bullied, it’s that they are afraid that people will begin to see them for what they are.  Narcissistic and uneducated!  A chord has been struck and they want to cover up any evidence they can.

I Am Not A Sheeple

I will not be told what to think and when to think it.  If I think you’re wrong I’ll tell you as much.  I will do it in the politest way I possibly can, but you know what?  That just might mean me telling you that your opinion is absurd and inaccurate.  Does that mean that I think you are those things?  Probably not.  I can read things and I can disagree with them.  And when you start talking about hot button issues like abortion and rights there are going to be strong feelings on both sides.

If you truly believe in what you are saying, then allowing differing view points to speak is ideal.  If you lose some readers because of something  someone else says to sway them to the other side, then you probably never really had them to begin with.

Don’t tell me who I can and cannot like!  Don’t tell me I am unintelligent because I agree with what someone you don’t like says!  Don’t call me deranged because of who I associate with!  Don’t question my sanity or my status as an adult based on a side I take in an argument!  Just like you like to say people don’t know you, it works both ways.  You don’t know me.  You don’t know that person YOU are cutting down for only your “deemed worthy of commenting people” to praise and comment about.

I read this stuff all the time.  Constantly, people crying oh the trolls they are so relentless with me.  It’s so terrible.  They are so mean to me.  And everyone just falls in line having no idea what exactly is being discussed.  A totally cryptic comment and suddenly this blogger is getting the validation she craves so much.  Everyone hates a bully, so mere mention of bully or someone being mean sends people into a frenzy.  It doesn’t matter if a comment is left correcting some misinformation a blogger has written.  If the blogger perceives you as making her look bad, then she just cries bully or troll and gets everyone to rally around her.

This Is Not To Say Internet Bullies Don’t Exist

I know that internet bullies really truly do exist.  And while the victims in this case certainly sound an awful lot like bullies, and to an extent they really are, there are much much worse situations out there.  There are bullies out there making actual threats on people’s lives and on their families.  That is scary stuff and that is a problem.

This however is not even close to that level.  And when these people cry bully it’s like crying wolf.  Eventually the whistle blower is going to get herself into a truly hairy situation and no one is going to believe her.  Well, no one that matters will believe her.  This also makes it that much harder for those who are being truly tormented to get someone to take her seriously.

So lets save the word bully for the times that it truly applies.  And if you’re a blogger and can’t tell the difference between a differing opinion and bullying, then get out of the blogging business.  If you are a blogger and write purposefully inflamed posts, then be prepared for the outcome which just might be some angry people.  It’s great that you have passion for your beliefs and your views, but do not be surprised when someone has the same passion for their own beliefs and views.  Have an open mind.  I am reminded of a quote from Aristotle:

It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.

Lets entertain those different points of view.  Lets debate.  Lets discuss.  Lets be adults.  Stop crying bully and writing stuff filled with name calling all in the name of standing up to the bullies.  Because honestly that’s counterproductive.

When a child who spends years being bullied in school goes into school and shoots up the school we do not say that’s the answer.  Even if he fires back with his own insults that is not how we want our children to handle bullies.  It’s not eye for an eye justice that’s going to help improve these matters.  Tolerance and respect is the name of the game here and if you refuse to hear out anyone who has a different opinion then you don’t have tolerance or respect.

So who is the real bully after all?

Betrayed By Teachers

Most teachers get into teaching because they love children and want to nurture them and watch them grow.  Well, I think that’s how it begins for all of them because it certainly can’t be for the money.  But somewhere along the way they lost that passion, or maybe some just never had the patience to be a teacher.

My first year in college I thought I wanted to be a teacher.  I quickly realized that it wasn’t for me.  I still loved children, but I didn’t feel I could take the day in and day out bureaucracy of it all.  Twenty different personalities in one room with me it was all just too much.  I was fortunate to go to a college who believed in getting freshman into schools so they could see what it was like so I made my decision pretty quickly to move along.  So I didn’t go through 3 or 4 years of being taught how to teach to then be put in a classroom to discover it’s not for me.  Then you are kind of stuck on a career path that you are already starting to hate.

A Rash Of Teacher Bullying Stories

Maybe it’s because I’m more sensitive to this stuff with school aged children.  Maybe it’s because I have one who receives special services in reading.  Maybe it’s because I have seen first hand how a teacher can break a child’s spirit, but there just seems to be a rash of teacher bullying stories popping up.  I talked about another one a few months ago here and now there’s the story of  little Akian Chaifetz, a 10 year old Autistic boy, who was bullied and exposed to inappropriate conversations, not by other students, but by his teachers!  This is a long video that shows only a few snippets of the daily abuse this boy endured.  However it’s very powerful.  This father is understandably very angry and very emotional and he and his son deserve everything he is asking for!

Now I often wonder, how does a teacher get to this point?  I mean obviously the one who’s still teaching has been teaching long enough to have earned tenure which apparently has protected her from being fired.  Who’s protecting the children in the classroom she was moved to though?  Aren’t we supposed to protect the children?  This is just wrong!

It Happens More Than We Know

Everyday I send my children off to school.  And everyday I tell them to have a good day.  Everyday I hope that the people they run into are kind to them and that they are also kind to the people who are a part of their day.  Not everyday is a good day, I know, but I have to hope not every day is a bad day either.  But my middle daughter lived her own form of terror 2 years ago.

I do not know if it was to the extent of this.  I have my suspicions that it was because I was in that classroom.  At the end of my daughter’s 2nd grade year there was an incident that I witnessed with her teacher that I did not approve of.  She was really big on whole class punishments.  A few kids act out and the whole class has to suffer.  Now I always tell my kids when they complain about this stuff that they need to talk to these other kids and help them to stay in line so you don’t lose privileges, but it always seemed with this particular teacher things went too far.  Like they were not getting down to the lunch room for lunch in enough time to complete their lunch because of these punishments.  Take away recess, but don’t take away time for my child to get the nourishment she needs.  And my daughter wasn’t the only child complaining about these things.

But that year at the very final weeks of school they had field day.  My husband and I had gone to snap some pictures of the kids enjoying their day and to help out where we could.  And at one point (I think probably when the teacher thought we weren’t in ear shot) we heard the teacher tell the children that if they didn’t get in line right now that they would not be returning to the field after lunch.  My husband and I looked at each other and said oh no way is that happening.  If our daughter was not at that field then we were going to march into that classroom to get her because I signed a piece of paper saying that she could participate and she wasn’t about to miss out because of this teacher’s inability to control her temper.  And I was there, my daughter was not a child who was acting out in anyway that would even justify her being left behind.  They were at the field after lunch that day and I did not have to make a scene, but it was a glimpse into what she had likely been dealing with all year long.  I am generally not one to get in the way of what a teacher feels is necessary, but you better believe the mama lion comes out in me when I see my children being treated unjustly.

And even more recently, my daughter, who receives special services for reading complains about one of her reading teachers.  It’s not that she’s mean to her, but it doesn’t sound like she’s doing her job with her.  Her main reading teacher she loves going to.  And this woman works her hard.  I’m always telling my daughter when she is reading at home and can’t figure something out, what would Ms. P tell you?  And she gets a big smile on her face and taps the word out just like she would if Ms. P were sitting there watching her.  But she dreads the days she has to go with Ms. D because as my daughter says all she ever does is talk to other teachers and play on her cell phone.  *Mental note, I have got to talk to her team about this and find out what is going on.

There Are Always Two Sides

I will not go flying off the handle about this.  There are always two sides to a story and then the truth is in the middle there somewhere.  But we have got to stand up for our children.  Even if it means we’re going to be labeled as the difficult parent.  I would rather be difficult and wrong about my concerns than silent and have a right to be worried.  In the Cahifetz case this father was at his wits end.  No one could figure out why his son was acting out.  His son was communicating by acting out because that was the only way he was capable of doing it.  The teachers were saying oh no we’re loving caring teachers who would never hurt a fly.  And there was still a problem.  So this father did the only thing he could think to do.  He got some ears on that classroom.  His son couldn’t verbalize for him what was happening.  And everything else he was being told wasn’t adding up.

And he got his answers.  And the teacher apparently got a slap on the wrist.  And much like my case with my daughter the teacher was protected.  And mind you I had a wonderful relationship with the principal in that school.  He knew I wasn’t an overbearing parent who didn’t know what was going on with her children.  And yet when we all met he stood up for the teacher.  Not my daughter, the one person in this who truly matters.

Akian can’t get the past several months of that school year back.  My daughter can’t get her 2nd grade year back.  A teacher who is fired can get a job.  Maybe not teaching, but she can find a way to sustain herself.  The children that have been hurt by teachers like this, they continue to hurt.  The new students they get will be hurt too.  It’s a never ending cycle.  And for us only by the grace of God (well and the fact that we moved and got into a different school with a little Intel about the teachers there) my daughter had a teacher last year who managed to restore her faith in education.  Who got her to push herself and built her confidence to amazing levels.  He couldn’t erase what had happened to her, but he did make her see that school isn’t a bad place.

I hope Akian can find that amazing teacher like we did that he’ll have an amazing connection with.  Because there are still wonderful teachers out there.  But some not so good ones are peppered in and protected by things like tenure so they can continue their rein of terror on children.  We can only hope that this teacher took this as a chance to improve herself and reevaluate her style.  I’m guessing not though because my daughter’s 2nd grade teacher had been moved to our school, I can only assume after speaking to another parent that it was after she had caused a stir in her previous school.  You can’t just move the problem around and hope that fixes it.  There are just some people who were not meant to teach and we’re not talking we just caught someone on a bad day.  There were ongoing red flags for Akian’s dad and we had many red flags too.

We need to protect our children!  Just because some might not have the verbal skills to express what’s going on that does not give anyone the right to break a child’s spirit.  I hope Akian keeps on smiling and will love school again one day.  He absolutely did not deserve what happened to him!  None of the children in that classroom did.  And none of the children in any future classrooms of this “teacher” (and I use that term loosely) deserve that sort of treatment.  A dog doesn’t even deserve to be treated like that!

What Else Can We Do?

Every time I hear a story like this, I miss the two way mirrored classroom that was set up in the classroom of the preschool on my college campus.  It was mostly there for the professors to observe the student teachers, but parents could go in there too.  Everyone knew it was there, but no one knew when someone was watching you.  So you always had to be wary of that.  Knowing that your style could be observed at any point in time.  So you had to be on your game.

Now school buses are starting to use cameras to catch the things that occur on buses.  People are using nanny cams.  Why can’t we have a way to observe how a classroom is being run without anyone seeing us?  Set up video cameras in all of the classrooms.  Not because we want to catch the teachers doing something bad, but so that our children can be held more accountable too.  My kids never know when I’ll pop in to school to check on them or shoot their teacher an email to get clarification about what’s going on.  They are accountable for their actions with me at all times.  But why not make them even more accountable?  Why not make the teachers even more accountable?  Then these things can’t happen, or they could but they wouldn’t happen as often.

And there has got to be consequences to someone’s actions.  This is life.  The president of the United States can’t get away with murder because he’s our commander and chief.  Maybe he could if he has a good lawyer, but not simply based on his title.  Not based on how long he has been doing something.  What does it take for action to be taken against the bad apples in teaching?  Of unequivocal proof of a heinous act against a child isn’t it, then what is?

I can’t be with my children 24/7.  I can’t know every single thing that happens to them at every moment of the day.  I send them off on the school bus hoping that the driver will get them there safely.  I leave them with teachers that I hope are going to teach them what they are supposed to be taught.  Not spew hatred at them.  I don’t get to interview these people who are carting my children around and teaching them.  I have to hope that someone else did it right.  And I have to hope that they are continuing to keep tabs on these people that my children spend a good part of their day with.  Sure I could home school and avoid all this worry, but that is not how I have chosen to get my children their education.  I am entrusting my most precious commodity to people I don’t really know, I get that.  But there is a job that is to be done by the school board, the board of educations, the administrators, the principals, and the teachers.  They are to keep my child and every other child that enters those buildings safe and provide them with an education.  If they are not doing that, then they have failed every single child and parent that walks into that school and they should want to do better.  I expect them to do better.  I expect them to keep my children safe.  I expect them to educate my children.  And I expect them to do all of that above what any sort of tenure agreement tells them to do!

What do you think?  Should tenure save a teacher’s job when they are not performing that job correctly?
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Cyberstalking: Parents who Bully Their Kids

This is the final in the cyberstalking series.  You wouldn’t ever think children would be the victim of bullying by their own parents, but it happens all of the time.  Even well intentioned parents inadvertently end up bullying their children on the internet.  It’s a startling trend.

How Could Parents Bully Their Own Children?

Out of frustration with her child’s behavior a mother writes something on her Facebook wall and calls her child a name.  Thinking it won’t get back to her child of course forgetting that the internet is forever.

What’s worse though is the parent who does it constantly.  Constantly picking on the actions of one child and comparing one to the other as if one is a perfect angel and one is the devil.  It is those kind of daily things that a child will eventually have no trouble finding.  And I’m not entirely sure that if it’s being said on the internet that much worse isn’t being said and done at home to the child.  We’re supposed to be on our best behavior in public right?  Don’t want other people to see us lose our cool?  So if on the internet all you ever do is say that 2 year old of mine is such an Asshole, then what’s being said that we don’t hear?

But I Didn’t Mean It Like That

Hey listen, I feel you parents out there.  My oldest daughter turns 13 in just over a month.  My middle daughter turns 10 in a little less than a month.  I’ve got two girls full of hormones going haywire in my house right now and they will turn on you in a heartbeat.  And my husband can attest to this, my oldest daughter and I we can really go at it.  My husband wanted to strangle both of us a couple of weeks ago as we were arguing about school when we had the internet technician in our home fixing our internet.

In the moment I have said things to my daughter that I want to just hit the rewind and erase button on.  As soon as I say it and I see the look on my daughter’s face I want to grab her and squeeze her and kiss her all over and say I’m so sorry.  And you know what’s worse?  Those “I can’t believe I said that” moments in parenting, she remembers and she remembers them very vividly and maybe a little exaggerated too in the heat of the moment when we fight.  All of the loving hugs and kisses I have spent years spreading all over her mean absolutely nothing to her when we’re fighting.  I don’t love her and I never say I love her and I don’t do this to her sister, but only to her because I hate her.  That is what she remembers when she’s mad at me.

I couldn’t imagine if I was putting it on the internet too.  And if the world sees that I think my preteen is a monster, then how can I expect the world to view my child?  The world is going to say my God, this child’s mother can’t stand her own child she must be the devil incarnate.  I don’t want my children viewed that way by family and friends let alone strangers.  For the record I absolutely do not think any of my children are monsters, I really do have the best kids in the world, but they are human and they do make mistakes just like me.

When the words slip out in the heat of the moment with your child, while you can’t rewind and erase you can fix that.  You can sit down and talk it out once everyone has calmed down and is thinking rationally.  When you put the words on the internet in the heat of the moment you might be able to erase it, but it probably isn’t gone forever.  Someone saw it and someone shared it.  Somewhere it’s cached.  Somehow your child will see that and won’t realize that you called him an Asshole because you were angry and frustrated that he smeared your favorite lipstick all over the brand new white carpet.  Chances are by the time it’s found you won’t even remember why you called him an Asshole so how do you talk that out?  You can’t, you have no basis for why you did it other then you must have been really frustrated with him.  But your child’s self esteem is at stake here and you are supposed to be building him up not tearing him down.

How Do You Avoid Tearing Your Children Down On The Internet?

This is a tough thing for mom bloggers especially.  We are trying to share things with people to have them learn from our experiences or just to commiserate with them about raising children.  We want to be honest with our readers, but at the same time we need to realize some of these stories aren’t ours to tell.  So what’s a gal to do?

  • Think before you type.  Ask yourself is it more important that I help other people deal with things or is it more important that I help my child.
  • Think while you are typing.  Is this just an angry gotta get this off my chest post that later will bite me in the butt?
  • Think after you type.  Read what you wrote and think again isn’t it just good enough that I got those feelings out there?  Do people really need to read what I say?

That’s the thing with writing on the internet.  You have so many times to stop and think is this really worth it?  Are the page views really worth my child’s self esteem?  If you can still post something so cruel about your child on the internet after thinking before, during, and after you type it out, then you might have much larger problems that you need to deal with in your relationship with your children.  And remember, what you think of as sarcastic or tongue and cheek might not come off that way to your readers and probably won’t come off that way to your child 5-10 years down the road.

By the way, even if you aren’t a blogger you have all of these options on social media sites or message boards even.  This is your chance to say the words, rewind, and erase just make sure you don’t hit submit before you rewind and erase!

The bottom line is the internet is forever.  Even if a million people are like yeah that was a real bonehead Asshole sort of move, this is your child!  He’s probably not going to get where you were coming from for many years to come when he has his own children.  You know what?  I don’t know that even then he would get where you were coming from to put it on the internet like that.  Publicly especially, we should be our children’s biggest cheer leader.

This doesn’t mean we can’t share the bad things with people, just in a more positive way.  Maybe when we’ve cooled down and aren’t so angry about it and can even laugh about it.  Like my 4 year old dumped an entire bottle of cinnamon all over his bedroom yesterday.  I was furious at him as I was trying to clean up the tiny grains of cinnamon from his floor and out of every nook and cranny he found to dump it in.  Because he couldn’t just make a nice mountain of cinnamon, it had to be sprinkled everywhere.  When all was said and done though I could say well my garbage smells nice now and so does his room.  I know he wasn’t being come conniving little being.  It’s cinnamon.  He likes cinnamon and for whatever reason he wanted his bedroom sprinkled in cinnamon.  I wish a whole brand new bottle of cinnamon wasn’t in my garbage can, but I don’t think this will lead to him knocking over liquor stores in the future either.

Will you be more careful with what you say on the internet about your children now?  Now that you know someday they could find it?

If you haven’t done so already you can read the rest of the pieces in the Cyberstalking series:
Cyberstalking: One Mom’s Story 
Cyberstalking: A Mother’s Story About her Son
Cyberstalking: What do Trolls Got to do With This?
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Cyberstalking: What Do Trolls Got To Do With This?

In continuing on with my Cyberstalking series I would like to talk about trolls. Not those funny looking crazy haired dolls from when we were children, but internet trolls. This word is tossed around the internet so frequently that I think it has lost its meaning. And so many people view what a troll is differently. So I’m going to attempt to define it here or at least give you my idea of a troll.   

The History Of A Troll

Internet trolls are not much like the mythological trolls that live under bridges or in caves.  Not at all like Edgar here, grandfather of the trolls.  Internet trolls are people who intentionally try to get people aroused and inflamed.  They started out in the days when message boards were popular.  Well before blogs and all the social media sites hit the scene.  They would use the anonymity of the internet to insight arguments between people on message boards.  They sat back and watched it all unfold and wars between people began.  And then they would move onto the next message board to do the same thing.  As message boards slowly have become more and more taboo and blogs and social media began to grow in popularity they began to start trouble in these places.  And now we see so many people crying troll over any dissenting opinion on the internet!  Do internet trolls still exist?  Of course they do!  They probably always will because as long as there are people for them to mess with there will be fun to be had by messing with them.  But is every difference of an opinion a troll?  Absolutely not!

Definition Of A Troll:

According to the urban dictionary the definition of a troll is as follows

One who purposely and deliberately (that purpose usually being self-amusement) starts an argument in a manner which attacks others on a forum without in any way listening to the arguments proposed by his or her peers. He will spark of such an argument via the use of ad hominem attacks (i.e. ‘you’re nothing but a fanboy’ is a popular phrase) with no substance or relevance to back them up as well as straw man arguments, which he uses to simply avoid addressing the essence of the issue.

So not someone who has a different opinion.  Not someone who carefully and thoughtfully presents their side of an argument.  And because of the nature of the internet someone who does this usually uses another name to do so.  Hides behind anonymous comments or a different name.

Difference Of Opinion Does Not Equal Troll

I hear it all the time from bloggers.  I have all these trolls.  They keep coming to MY page just to argue with me.  But are their arguments on target with what you post about?  If so that’s not a troll.  Well, if they don’t agree with me they don’t have to read.  I know I don’t read everything I agree with.  Honestly, I don’t even want everyone who reads here to agree with me.  That would be rather boring and preaching to the choir don’t you think?  I want to get my opinion out to people who might not see things my way.  I want them to engage with me civilly in debate.I want them to change my mind on something or me to change their mind on something because I put forth a good effort at dissuading their point of view.

Not everyone is going to like me.  I get that.  Not everyone is going to understand me.  I get that too.  And while I have had a few debates on here recently I never once thought oh this person is just a troll.  People who completely disagree with my stance on something or how I do things and have told me as much were not trolls.

Doing a little spoof of Jeff Foxworthy’s ‘You might be a redneck if…’ bit

You might be a troll if…

  1. Telling a laboring woman who’s attempting a home birth that it’s okay to go to the hospital
  2. You talk to friends about something someone said or did
  3. You write a blog stating a differing opinion from another blogger
  4. You put forth any sort of sensible argument against what someone is saying
  5. You continue to feasibly argue your side of the coin even after a bunch of people have called you a bunch of different names
  6. You warn others about the dangers of getting involved with someone who is a habitual liar
  7. You read a blog that you rarely agree with
  8. You offer up an opinion about someone being discussed and it’s not all glowing

So Does That Sound Right To You?

Someone being concerned for human life suggesting she seek help is that mean or purposefully inflaming?  Talking to your friends about something you found to be unbelievable is that any different than what most of us do on a daily basis?  Writing a blog post, debating different opinions, and continuing to argue your point, is that mean?  Warning others about things you have learned about another person what’s wrong with that?  What does a blogger have to worry about if her so called troll is the one who’s lying anyways?  Are we not allowed to read things we disagree with?  Are we not allowed to then offer up factual evidence of why what is stated is incorrect?  Are we not allowed to tell others in conversation why we don’t like something or someone?  Are the ones pointing fingers at people labeling them trolls any better really than these so called trolls?  Isn’t all this beginning to sound a lot like the internet piracy act that so many bloggers are standing up against the government censoring us?

What Does All Of This Have To Do With Cyberstalking?

You know the story the boy who cried wolf?  I’m sure you do, but if not long story short a shepherd who was bored watching over his flock of sheep continued to call wolf to get the towns people running to save the sheep.  Until one day there really was a wolf and no one believed him when he cried it so no one came running and the sheep were eaten.  Well if a blogger continues to call troll then who will believe her when she really has a problem?  When someone is really following her around on the internet and making threats towards her and truly terrorizing her who will believe that?  This is why we have to be careful who we call trolls.

I have gotten to the point where I hear the word troll and I can’t take a person seriously because every little thing is considered trolling behavior.  It is going to make it that much harder for the real true offenders who end up crossing the lines from just doing it to get a rise out of people to actually stalking and threatening people to get convicted if everything someone does on the internet could be considered trolling.  The funny thing about it all is the bloggers who scream troll the loudest are the ones who also have the loudest most judgmental opinions about many public figures that I have ever seen.  People need to “mind their own uterus” but then when Michelle Duggar is pregnant again she needs to be punched in the throat.  Yes people, these are actual conflicting statements from one blogger on the internet.  And that my friends sounds to me like borderline cyberstalking/bullying with an actual physical threat in there and everything!

What do you think about internet trolls?  Is the term used much to frequently?

Be sure to check out part 1 in this series Cyberstalking: One Mom’s Story and part 2 in this series Cyberstalking: A Mother’s Story about her son.

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Cyberstalking: A Mother’s Story About Her Son

Continuing on with my Cyberstalking series. I have another guest blogger for you!

Teressa Morris is a part-time bookkeeper and part-time blogger. She is married to her highschool sweetheart and has two sons and two dogs. She is the owner and primary blogger at Window on the World, where she writes her observations on life from a Christian perspective.

Our son, Bud, is 17 and a senior in high school. Last summer he had a very scary experience with a cyberbully.

Here’s Our Story:

Some of Bud’s friends from junior high had taken a wrong turn in high school and started taking Methamphetamine’s. Bud had no use for that and stopped hanging out with them, although they all parted on good terms. The problem was that G, the younger brother of one of these boys, had looked up to Bud as a protector and was very resentful when Bud stopped hanging out with G’s brother and friends.

G is a troubled child – he struggles with mental health and weight issues and his brother’s friends would tease him and make him the butt of their jokes. Bud had always stuck up for G, and G looked at Bud’s absence as a betrayal. G developed an obsession with Bud. He started texting Bud, demanding that they meet to fight. Bud refused and ignored the texts, until one night in April, G texted Bud and told him to meet to fight that night or G would show up at our house and cause trouble. Bud was understandably scared as G is considerably larger than him, and because of G’s emotional instability. My husband, Art, agreed to sit up all night in case G tried to break in, and Bud was finally able to get some sleep. G never showed.
We convinced Bud that G was making idle threats and he calmed down for a little while.

By Now It Was Summer

One morning Bud and his 3 closest friends got a text from G, with lots of cursing and name-calling, demanding that they all come fight him at once. We all laughed it off. That night, Art & I went out with friends and Bud had his 3 friends over to play video games. About 10 p.m., G and 7 other boys showed up at our house, all dressed in black, and started pounding on the exterior walls and windows of our house screaming for Bud to come out and fight. Fortunately, Bud had the presence of mind to call the police and yell outside that he had done so. G and his friends ran away before the police got there. The police took an “informational report.”

After the night-time incident Bud became understandably paranoid. He would no longer leave the house unless we drove him to his destination, even if it was just around the corner. He and his friends used to walk all over town and now he was getting so little sunshine that he was eventually diagnosed with Vitamin D deficiency.

During the week that followed, one of Bud’s friends texted him and told him to check out G’s Facebook wall. G had a public and completely open Facebook page – anyone could see it whether or not they were his friend. Bud called me over to see what G had posted. Right there on G’s wall, was an invitation – ” bud morris, come over to my house… I have a bottle of beer and a freshly dug grave in my backyard for you…” “I want to grow my hair long so I can strangle bud with it.” Art, and I told Bud he needed to get a restraining order against G.

We went to the courthouse and got the paperwork, but Bud was terrified there would be retribution from G’s brother and friends if he followed through. So we put it on hold.

Then, on July 1st, Bud saw this message on G’s Facebook wall, “anyone down to get torches and pitch forks and begin an angry mob and go over to bud’s house and drag him outside by the throat and beat him til he’s dead in the street?” Bud went to his room and refused to come out. When I tried to talk to him he was actually shaking, he was so angry and scared.

I called a friend of ours who I knew Bud would listen to because he works closely with the police department. C told Bud the only way he would get through this was if he trusted us as his parents to protect him and the only way we could do that was by filing another police report and getting a restraining order. Bud finally agreed.

We printed all the pages from G’s Facebook wall from the past week and called the police. This time, partially due to the printed evidence and partly because G was a known troublemaker in the neighborhood, Bud was taken seriously. The police went to his house that night and arrested him for felony stalking as well as multiple counts of theft from other people which he had also confessed to on his Facebook wall. He spent a month in juvenile hall and received a year probation with a no-contact order on Bud. We also received a 3 year civil restraining order against G.

It has been more than six months since the arrest, and Bud is finally starting to feel some peace. He looked over his shoulder for a long time afterwards and still wanted to be driven everywhere. For awhile G’s brother and his friends would drive by our house and yell curses and insults at us. But I think Bud finally sees that they took him seriously and that they understand that retribution would just land them in the same trouble as G. At least I hope that’s what they’re thinking.

Thank you Teressa for sharing your son’s story. Be sure to check out all the great information Teressa has on Cyberstalking and helpful tips for those going through it!
Here’s Part 1 of the Cyberstalking Series!

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Cyberstalking: One Moms Story!

I am doing a series on Cyberstalking and to start it off I got Bambi of Mothering Many Feet to write a little about one recent experience she has had on the internet. It is an ongoing problem for her and a group of her friends who seek to make home birth safer. It’s a hot button issue which is very emotionally charged and therefore tends to explode into what you will see before you.

Bambi’s Story

As I am sure most know, our group has been a target of women who are mad about the fact that we stand for something totally different than they do. There are women who are angry that we speak out against the dangerous misinformation they promote. There are women angry that those of us with dead babies aren’t just thankful for the births we got and dare to call our midwives negligent. According to them, we need to accept responsibility for the deaths and make peace with them like some other mothers are willing to do. These very women are the ones who have made a list of our names and passed it around as some sort of master list of people to ban from pages.

One blogger accused us of hacking her blog and sending her threats. Though I admit, this blogger can be a nice person so in burying the hatchet, I deleted several of my blog posts about the misinformation and deaths in her community. Though, she never did admit to the lies spread about us, but we did get to see a blog post attacking one of our members, who had a baby die. One blogger saw a few of us from “the list” and came out swinging out of the blue although the few of us on her page had NEVER done anything on her page. Those ones, eh, whatever. These next few- HOLY SHIT!

One blogger has taken to attacking one member of our group at a time including photos of the women’s children! Another blogger has taken to taking screenshots of things said and putting them in whatever context she wants in order to make us look badly. What’s comical about this one is that she tried really hard to get us to see and feel and think how she does, but, we didn’t. She is trying to punish us for not being on board with HER ideals. She has also taken to creating a troll profile in order to be in a private group of ours so she can watch us and take screenshots of anything she wants since most of us have left the Fed Up group. This woman also follows us everywhere we go and tries to instigate arguments. Most of us have had to block her personal profile, but unfortunately, we can’t block her page, which is the avenue she uses.

I Share All Of This Because These Women Claim We Bully Them

Technically, cyberbullying occurs between children and teens. In the adult world, it’s cyberstalking. These last two women have turned to a page called The Mom Pledge about their woes and are getting support from these people who are against “mom bullying”, even after seeing blog posts these women have written.

What Is Cyberstalking?

According to Wikipedia

Cyberstalking is the use of the Internet or other electronic means to stalk or harass an individual, a group of individuals, or an organization. It may include false accusations, monitoring, making threats, identity theft, damage to data or equipment, the solicitation of minors for sex, or gathering information in order to harass. The definition of “harassment” must meet the criterion that a reasonable person, in possession of the same information, would regard it as sufficient to cause another reasonable person distress.[1] Cyberstalking is different from spatial or offline stalking. However, it sometimes leads to it, or is accompanied by it.[2]

Types Of Cyberstalkers:

1. The Rejected Stalker
2. Intimacy Seekers
3. Incompetent Suitors
4. Resentful Stalkers
5. Predatory Stalkers
6. Delusional Stalker
7. Erotomaniac
8. Harasser Stalker
9. Love Rats
10. Trolls

The main one we are dealing with tried really hard to get us to validate her decision to home birth based on previous trauma. We could not. This turned this woman against us, so ever since then, we have dealt with her creating fake profiles in order to infiltrate our private groups so that she can cap anything and post it online. These caps usually come with a bullshit story, so she can make it seem as though we are discussing something completely different than we are. She went so far as to try to hurt a friend of ours by pasting a bunch of caps together claiming this is what we said about the woman. Due to her trolling our private groups, she will follow us to any thread we are discussing and use it to put us down/bad mouth us to others.

We choose to ignore, but she………………. Well, you decide!

Thank you Bambi for sharing this story. I know she could go on and on about these problems. All in an attempt to prevent women from hearing her message about the safety of home birth. And for The Mom Pledge to even be a part of this! It’s just wrong on so many levels. Check back soon for more stories about Cyberstalking in this series on Cyberstalking.
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